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Encyclopedia > Dennis Potter

Liber Amoris

Dennis Christopher George Potter (17 May 19357 June 1994) was a controversial British dramatist who is best known for several widely acclaimed television dramas which mixed fantasy and reality, the personal and the social. He was particularly fond of using themes and images from popular culture. Image File history File links Potterlife. ... May 17 is the 137th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (138th in leap years). ... 1935 (MCMXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... June 7 is the 158th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (159th in leap years), with 207 days remaining. ... 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International year of the Family. ... A dramatist is an author of dramatic compositions, usually plays. ... Popular culture, or pop culture, is the vernacular (peoples) culture that prevails in any given society. ...

Potter was born in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. His father was a coal miner in this rural mining area between Gloucester and Wales. During his National Service he learned Russian at the Joint Services School for Linguists. He won a scholarship to New College, Oxford, and started work for the BBC in the late 1950s, later writing sketches for That Was The Week That Was. He also worked as a journalist and considered becoming a Labour MP – unsuccessfully standing for Hertfordshire East in the 1964 general election, and claiming that by the end of the campaign he was so disillusioned with party politics that he did not even vote for himself – before embarking on his career as a television playwright. The (Royal) Forest of Dean is a region in the county of Gloucestershire, England. ... Gloucestershire (pronounced ; GLOSS-ter-sher) is a county in South West England. ... Gloucester (pronounced ) is a city and district in south-west England, close to the Welsh border. ... For an explanation of often confusing terms such as Great Britain, Britain, United Kingdom, England and Wales and England, see British Isles (terminology). ... National service describes a form of military service in which all citizens (or all male citizens) of one particular nation can participate, either voluntarily or (more often) non-voluntarily. ... The Joint Services School for Linguists (JSSL) was founded in 1951 by the British armed services to provide language training, principally in Russian, and largely to selected conscripts undergoing National Service. ... College name New College Named after Blessed Virgin Mary Established 1379 Sister College Kings College Warden Prof. ... The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is the largest publicly-funded radio and television broadcasting corporation of the United Kingdom (see British television) and the world. ... The 1950s were a decade that spanned the years 1951 through 1960. ... That Was The Week That Was, also known as TW3, was a satirical television comedy programme that aired on BBC Television in 1962 and 1963. ... The Labour Party has since its formation in the early 20th century been the principal left wing political party in the United Kingdom (see British politics). ... A Member of Parliament, or MP, is a representative elected by the voters of an electoral district to a parliament; in the Westminster system, specifically to the lower house. ... For the Nintendo 64 emulator, see 1964 (Emulator). ...


Television work

Potter's career as a playwright began conventionally enough with works like Vote, Vote, Vote for Nigel Barton (The Wednesday Play, 1965), a BBC play about a parliamentary candidate, based on Potter's own experiences as such. He took a major step into controversy with Son of Man (The Wednesday Play, 1969), starring Irish actor Colin Blakely, an alternative view of the last days of Jesus, which led to his being accused of blasphemy. The Wednesday Play was a British television drama anthology series, which ran on BBC ONE from 1964 to 1970. ... This article is about Jesus of Nazareth. ... Look up blasphemy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

His 1971 serial Casanova was criticised for its sexual content. Another play, Brimstone and Treacle (Play for Today, 1976), was withheld by the BBC for many years due to concerns over the depiction of the rape of a disabled woman. It was eventually broadcast on BBC2 in 1987, although a film version had been made, with Sting in the leading role, in 1982. Casanova is a British television drama serial, written by the acclaimed television playwright Dennis Potter. ... Brimstone and Treacle is a 1970s play by Dennis Potter about a middle-aged middle-class couple living in a North London suburb who are unfortunate enough to have their beautiful undergraduate daughters life reduced to a severely handicapped existence by a hit-and-run driver. ... The Play for Today logo, seen here in the opening title sequence from 1976. ... BBC Two (or BBC2 as it was formerly styled) was the second UK television station to be aired by the BBC and the first British television channel to broadcast regularly in colour (from 1967), envisaged as a home for less mainstream and more ambitious programming. ... Film refers to the celluloid media on which movies are printed. ... Sting in Budapest, 2000 Gordon Matthew Sumner, CBE (born October 2, 1951), usually known by his stage name Sting, is an English musician from Newcastle upon Tyne. ...

Potter's groundbreaking play, Blue Remembered Hills, was first shown on the BBC on 30 January 1979. There may have been a second showing soon afterwards, but it finally returned to the British small screen at Christmas 2004, and again in the summer of 2005, showcased as part of the winning decade (1970s) having been voted by BBC4 viewers as the golden era of British television. The BBC video has long been unavailable, but it finally received a DVD release in September 2005. The adult actors playing the roles of children were Helen Mirren, Janine Duvitski, Michael Elphick, Colin Jeavons, Colin Welland, John Bird, and Robin Ellis. It was directed by the late Brian Gibson. The moralistic theme was the child is father of the man. Blue Remembered Hills is a television play by Dennis Potter, originally part of the BBCs Play for Today series. ... January 30 is the 30th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... This page refers to the year 1979. ... DVD-R writing/reading side DVD (also known as Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc) is an optical disc storage media format that can be used for data storage, including movies with high video and sound quality. ... Mirren with Malcolm McDowell in O Lucky Man! (1974) Dame Helen Mirren, DBE (born Ilyena Lydia Mironova on 26 July 1945) is an English stage, television and movie actress. ... Janine Duvitski is a English character actress who trained at the East 15 Acting School in London. ... Michael Elphick (born September 19, 1946 in Chichester, West Sussex; died September 7, 2002 in London) was a British actor best remembered for starring in the TV series Private Schulz, Boon, Three Up, Two Down, and Harry. ... Colin Jeavons Colin Jeavons is a Welsh character actor, born 20 October 1929 in Newport. ... Colin Welland is a British writer (born in Leigh, Lancashire, England), known as a screen writer, and television script writer. ... John Bird (born November 22, 1936) is a British satirist, actor and comedian. ... Robin Ellis Robin Ellis (born January 8, 1942 London) is a British actor who is best remembered as having starred in both Poldark mini-series on television, playing Captain Ross Poldark. ... Brian Gibson (September 22, 1944 _ January 4, 2004) was a film director. ...

Potter had used the dramatic device of adult actors playing children before, however the powerful imagery of "Blue Remembered Hills" lives on with the generation that first saw it, not least because of its uneasy, claustrophobic feeling provoking elements of xenophobia and a consideration of fearing the outsider, such was the prevalence of the post-war mood within British society.

Potter continued to make news as well as winning critical acclaim for drama serials such as Pennies From Heaven (1978) – which brought Bob Hoskins into the limelight – and The Singing Detective (1986), which did the same for Michael Gambon. Both series were adapted as feature films with 'Pennies' gaining Potter an Oscar nomination. His TV serial, Blackeyes (1989, also a novel), a drama about a fashion model was reviewed as self-indulgent by some critics. In 1992 he directed a film, Secret Friends (from his novel, Ticket to Ride), starring Alan Bates and executive-produced by Robert Michael Geisler and John Roberdeau (producers of Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line). Secret Friends premiered in New York at the Museum of Modern Art as the gala closing of the Museum of Radio & Television’s week-long retrospective of Potter’s work for TV. Potter also proposed to write an 'intermedia' stage play for Geisler-Roberdeau based on William Hazlitt’s Liber Amoris, or The New Pygmalion (he died before it could be commenced). Potter's romantic comedy Lipstick on Your Collar (1993) was a return to more conventional themes. Pennies From Heaven is a 1978 BBC Television drama serial by the highly-regarded television playwright Dennis Potter. ... Bob Hoskins Robert William Bob Hoskins (born October 26, 1942) is a British actor best known for playing Cockney rough diamonds and gangsters, and for family films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988, Eddie Valiant). ... The Singing Detective The Singing Detective was a 1986 BBC television miniseries, written by Dennis Potter and starring Michael Gambon. ... Michael Gambon in Charlotte Gray, (2001) Sir Michael Gambon (born October 19, 1940) is an actor who has become known worldwide for his role as Albus Dumbledore in the two latest Harry Potter films; he is also a Samuel Beckett scholar. ... Blackeyes was a 1989 BBC TV series, written and directed by British playwright Dennis Potter, starring Gina Bellman as the title character. ... A model is a person who acts as a human prop for purposes of art, fashion, advertising, pornography, etc. ... Alan Bates as butler in Gosford Park (2001) Sir Alan Arthur Bates CBE, (February 17, 1934 – December 27, 2003) was a British actor. ... Terrence Malick (born November 30, 1943, Waco, Texas) is an enigmatic American film director, screenwriter, and producer. ... The Thin Red Line is a phrase or title that refers to an outgunned military unit holding firm against attack: The Thin Red Line (1854 battle), the original reference to the resistance by 93rd (Highland) Regiment in the Crimean War The Thin Red Line, 1962 novel by James Jones about... View across garden, in new MoMA building by Yoshio Taniguchi. ... William Hazlitt (10 April 1778 – 18 September 1830) was an English writer remembered for his humanistic essays and literary criticism, often esteemed the greatest English literary critic after Samuel Johnson. ... Lipstick on your Collar is a 1993 Television serial written by Dennis Potter. ...

Although Potter won few awards, he is held in high regard by many within the television and film industry, and he was an obvious influence on such creators as Steven Bochco, Alan Ball, Margaret Edson and Alain Resnais. His work has been the subject of many critical essays, books, websites and documentaries. Steven Ronald Bochco (born December 16, 1943) is an American television producer and writer. ... Alan Ball (born in Atlanta, Georgia circa 1957) is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, director, producer and occasional actor, who is best known for writing the screenplay for the Oscar-winning film American Beauty. ... Margaret Edson (b. ... Alain Resnais (born June 3, 1922 in Vannes, France) is a famous French film director, perhaps best known for his masterpieces Hiroshima mon amour (1959), written by Marguerite Duras, and Last Year at Marienbad (Lannée dernière à Marienbad) (1961), written by the French novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet. ...


During the early 1960s, Potter began to suffer from an acute form of psoriasis known as psoriatic arthropathy, a rare hereditary condition that affected his skin and caused arthritis in his joints. There is some indication that this disease is the one the Bible refers to as "leprosy" (which is not Hansen's disease). For the rest of his life, Potter was frequently in hospital, sometimes completely unable to move and in great pain. The disease eventually ruined his hands, reducing them to what he called "clubs". He had to learn to write by strapping a pen to his hand. Photograph of an arm covered with plaque psoriasis Psoriasis is a disease whose main symptom is gray or silvery flaky patches on the skin which are red and inflamed underneath when scratched. ... Arthritis(from Greek arthro-, joint + -itis, inflammation) is a group of conditions that affect the health of the bone joints in the body. ... Father Damien was a Roman Catholic missionary who helped lepers on Hawaii and also died of the disease. ...

In February 1994, Potter learned that he had terminal cancer of the pancreas and liver. It was thought that this was a side effect of the medication he was taking to control his psoriasis, also considerably aggravated by his chain-smoking habit. With typical sardonic humour, he named his cancer Rupert, after Rupert Murdoch, who represented so much of what he hated about British society. When normal cells are damaged beyond repair, they are eliminated by apoptosis. ... The pancreas is an organ that serves two exocrine - it produces pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes. ... The liver is the largest internal organ of the human body. ... Rupert Murdoch Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC, KCSG, (born 11 March 1931) is an Australian-born American based media proprietor based in New York City who is a major shareholder and the Chairman and Managing Director of News Corporation. ...

He continued to care for his wife, Margaret Morgan Potter, who was suffering from the breast cancer that would soon claim her life, and then he died (aged 59) a week after she did. Breast cancer is cancer of breast tissue. ...

Last interview

Shortly before his death, Potter gave a memorable, if uncomfortable to witness, interview to Channel 4 (he had broken most of his ties with the BBC as a result of his disenchantment with Directors-General Michael Checkland and especially John Birt, whom he had famously referred to as a "croak-voiced Dalek" ), in which he described his work and his determination to continue writing until the end. As he sipped on a morphine cocktail, he told a visibly moved Melvyn Bragg: "My only regret is if I die four pages too soon." Channel 4 is a public service television broadcaster in the United Kingdom (see British television). ... Sir Michael Checkland (born 1936) was Director-General of the BBC from 1987 to 1992, having been appointed after the forced resignation of Alasdair Milne. ... John Birt, Baron Birt (born 10 December 1944), served as the Director-General of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) from 1992 to 2000, having previously been deputy director-general since 1987. ... The Daleks (pronounced DAH-lecks; IPA: ) are a fictional extraterrestrial race of mutants from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. ... Morphine (INN), the principal active agent in opium, is a powerful opioid analgesic drug. ... Melvyn Bragg Melvyn Bragg, Baron Bragg (born 6 October 1939, in Wigton, Cumbria) is a British author, screenwriter and television and radio host and journalist. ...

Final works

His final two serials were Karaoke and Cold Lazarus (two related stories, both starring Albert Finney as the same principal character, one set in the present and the other in the future). They were aired posthumously in the United Kingdom as part of a rare collaboration between the BBC and rival Channel 4 in accordance with Potter's wishes. Karaoke was a television play written by Dennis Potter with the knowledge that he was dying from cancer of the pancreas. ... Cold Lazarus is a television play written by Dennis Potter shortly before his death, and broadcast after it in 1994. ... Albert Finney is an English actor, born 9 May 1936 in Salford, Lancashire, England. ... The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is the largest publicly-funded radio and television broadcasting corporation of the United Kingdom (see British television) and the world. ... Channel 4 is a public service television broadcaster in the United Kingdom (see British television). ...

External links

  • Dennis Potter & The Singing Detective - critical essay from The British Film Resource
  • A bibliography of works related to Dennis Potter
  • Dennis Potter at The Internet Movie Database
  • Official Web site
  • British Film Institute Screen Online (An Interview with Dennis Potter)

  Results from FactBites:
Dennis Potter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (955 words)
Dennis Christopher George Potter (17 May 1935—7 June 1994) was a controversial British dramatist who is best known for several widely acclaimed television dramas which mixed fantasy and reality, the personal and the social.
Potter was born in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
During the early 1960s, Potter began to suffer from an acute form of psoriasis known as psoriatic arthropathy, a rare hereditary condition that affected his skin and caused arthritis in his joints.
  More results at FactBites »



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