After 10 or 11 weeks in the hospital, Marlow has a session with a psychiatrist, Dr. Gibbon, that does not go well. Gibbon believes that the root of Marlow's skin disorder is psychological and that he...
Writer Philip Marlow is in hospital being treated for a severe skin affliction, something he has suffered from for 25 years but is now worse than it has ever been. He finds himself in a general ward ...
Re-working material from his first novel, "Hide and Seek" (1973), and folding this into a prismatic blend of autobiographical details, popular music and 1940s film noir, Writer Dennis Potter delivered a drama now regarded as a twentieth century masterwork. Detective novelist Philip Marlow (Sir Michael Gambon) suffers from the crippling disease of psoriatic arthritis. Confined to a hospital bed, Marlow mentally re-writes his early Chandleresque thriller, "The Singing Detective", with him in the title role, drifting into a surreal 1945 fantasy of spies and criminals, along with vivid memories of a childhood in the Forest of Dean. As past events and 1940s songs surface in his subconscious, Marlow's voyage of self-discovery provides a key to conquering his illness, while his noir-styled hallucinations evoke the Philip Marlowe of Chandler's Murder, My Sweet (1944), starring Dick Powell, who later became a "singing detective" on radio's "Richard Diamond, Private Detective" (1949), crooning ...Written by
Bhob Stewart <email@example.com>
Filming had to be stopped for one scene where Joanne Whalley, playing Marlow's nurse, pulls down his pyjama bottoms to administer soothing cream to his skin. Unbeknownst to Whalley, Sir Michael Gambon had had stockings and suspenders painted onto his legs, the sight of which made the whole cast and crew burst into laughter. See more »
There's no point in reiterating the praise for this miniseries. Many have called it the best television production ever, and as far as I can tell, they're absolutely correct. This is (NBC notwithstanding) the true definition of 'must-see TV'.
I just want to comment on something that struck me when I watched this recently on DVD. There's no way that an actor like Michael Gambon could ever get cast as the leading man in an American production (for TV or movies). He's just not physically attractive enough in the conventional sense; for example, he has the beginnings of a double-chin (more of a sloping-down from his chin to his collar), and I can't imagine any American producer being willing to give such an "not hot" actor so much screen time in the lead role.
Yet, it hardly needs be said, he is 100% perfect in this role, and it's hard to imagine anyone else doing as good a job. He can convey more feeling (rage, helplessness, love, hatred) in one close-up of his eyes than some actors do in their entire careers. His presence in this film is, in a sense, a reminder of how lucky we all are that it ever got made at all, by a BBC that was willing to give producer Kenith Trodd almost complete autonomy, as long as he stayed within budget. With the possible exception of HBO, you just don't see that sort of artistic freedom too often over on this side of the pond.
Anyway, as others said, it's a masterpiece, brilliantly written and brilliantly acted. Truly one of the most incredible uses of the television medium ever.
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