8.7/10
3,903
47 user 15 critic

The Singing Detective 

Tormented and bedridden by a debilitating disease, a mystery writer relives his detective stories through his imagination and hallucinations.
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1  
1986  
6 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
Michael Gambon ...  Philip Marlow 6 episodes, 1986
Patrick Malahide ...  Mark Binney / ... 6 episodes, 1986
Joanne Whalley ...  Nurse Mills 6 episodes, 1986
David Ryall ...  Mr. Hall 6 episodes, 1986
Gerard Horan Gerard Horan ...  Reginald 6 episodes, 1986
Leslie French Leslie French ...  Mr. Tomkey / ... 6 episodes, 1986
Ron Cook ...  First Mysterious Man 6 episodes, 1986
George Rossi ...  Second Mysterious Man 6 episodes, 1986
Sharon D. Clarke ...  Night Nurse 6 episodes, 1986
Lyndon Davies Lyndon Davies ...  Philip (aged 10) 6 episodes, 1986
Geff Francis Geff Francis ...  Porter 6 episodes, 1986
Janet Suzman ...  Nicola 5 episodes, 1986
Alison Steadman ...  Mrs. Marlow / ... 5 episodes, 1986
Jim Carter ...  Mr. Marlow 5 episodes, 1986
Imelda Staunton ...  Staff Nurse White 5 episodes, 1986
Janet Henfrey Janet Henfrey ...  Schoolteacher 5 episodes, 1986
Bill Paterson ...  Dr. Gibbon 4 episodes, 1986
William Speakman William Speakman ...  Mark Binney (aged 10) / ... 4 episodes, 1986
Simon Chandler ...  Dr. Finlay 4 episodes, 1986
Charles Simon Charles Simon ...  George Adams 4 episodes, 1986
Wally Thomas ...  Grandad Baxter 3 episodes, 1986
Kate McKenzie Kate McKenzie ...  Sonia 3 episodes, 1986
Trevor Cooper ...  Cloth Cap / ... 3 episodes, 1986
Charon Bourke Charon Bourke ...  Amanda 2 episodes, 1986
Mary MacLeod Mary MacLeod ...  Sister Malone 2 episodes, 1986
Thomas Wheatley Thomas Wheatley ...  Registrar 2 episodes, 1986
Ken Stott ...  Uncle John 2 episodes, 1986
Jo Cameron Brown ...  Aunt Emily 2 episodes, 1986
Niven Boyd Niven Boyd ...  First Soldier 2 episodes, 1986
Angela Curran Angela Curran ...  Mary 2 episodes, 1986
David Thewlis ...  Second Soldier 2 episodes, 1986
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Storyline

Reworking 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, Dennis Potter delivered a drama now regarded as a 20th-century masterwork. Detective novelist Philip Marlow (Michael Gambon) suffers from the crippling disease of psoriatic arthritis. Confined to a hospital bed, Marlow mentally rewrites his early Chandleresque thriller, "The Singing Detective," with himself 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 to ... Written by Bhob Stewart <bhob2@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Australia | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 November 1986 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Singing Detective See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(6 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer Kenith Trodd originally wanted Nicol Williamson for the lead role. Director Jon Amiel insisted on Michael Gambon instead. (Ironically, Williamson turned down the role when offered it.) See more »

Quotes

Philip Marlow: I used to think that all I wanted was the good opinion of honorable men and the ungrudging love of beautiful women. Now I know for sure that all I really want is a cigarette.
See more »

Connections

References The Big Sleep (1946) See more »

Soundtracks

Peg o' My Heart
(uncredited)
Music by Fred Fisher
Performed by Max Harris & His Novelty Trio during the credits
See more »

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User Reviews

A Great Series, Now Out on DVD
17 May 2003 | by AndyENSee all my reviews

I discovered this at my local library and it is truly one of the all time great TV shows. A complex plot that rewards viewers' patience. Great performances, particularly by Gambon. Thus far the movie hasn't been released nationwide so I can't speak for the quality, but even if it proves to be terrible, at least it appears to have paved the way for the DVD version, which I pretty much expected when I learned of the film. This series deserves to be better known world-wide than it is, and hopefully the DVD set (which includes a director/producer Commentary track for every episode, specials on Dennis Potter, etc.) will make the series better known to people.


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