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Encyclopedia > The Singing Detective
The Singing Detective
Image:Singing Detective Poster.jpg
Format Musical/Film Noir
Created by Dennis Potter
Starring Michael Gambon
Jim Carter
Lyndon Davies
Patrick Malahide
Bill Paterson
Alison Steadman
Janet Suzman
Joanne Whalley
Imelda Staunton
Country of origin UK
No. of episodes 6
Production
Executive
producer(s)
Rick McCallum
Producer(s) Kenith Trodd
Running time 300 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC1
Original run November 16, 1986December 21, 1986
External links
IMDb profile
TV.com summary

The Singing Detective is a critically acclaimed BBC television miniseries, written by Dennis Potter and starring Michael Gambon. The Singing Detective was a 2003 film based on the BBC mini-series of the same name, a work by Dennis Potter. ... The cover of the video/DVD for The Singing Detective television series File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... The musical film is a film genre in which several songs sung by the characters are interwoven into the narrative. ... Two silhouetted figures in The Big Combo (1955). ... Liber Amoris 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. ... Sir Michael John Gambon, KBE (born October 19, 1940), is an acclaimed Irish-British actor who has worked in television, film and theatre. ... Jim Carter may refer to: Jim Carter (actor) - British television and film actor Jim Carter (golfer) - PGA Tour golfer Jim Carter (PSM) - Plastic Spunk Monkey Jim Carter (American football player) - retired NFL linebacker Jimmy Carter (James Earl Carter, Jr. ... Patrick Malahide (born March 24, 1945) is an English actor, who has played many major film and television roles. ... Bill Paterson is a Scottish actor who has appeared in many films, plays and television series. ... Alison Steadman OBE (born on July 26, 1945) is an award-winning English stage, television and film actress. ... Janet Suzman (born 9 February 1939) is a South African actress and director. ... Joanne Whalley (born 25 August 1964 in Salford, Lancashire) is an English actress. ... Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton OBE (born on January 9, 1956) is an Academy Award-nominated English actress. ... Rick McCallum The image above is believed to be a replaceable non-free image. ... BBC One (or BBC1 as it was formerly styled) is the oldest United Kingdom, and indeed, the world. ... is the 320th day of the year (321st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The year 1986 in television involved some significant events. ... is the 355th day of the year (356th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The year 1986 in television involved some significant events. ... For other uses, see BBC (disambiguation). ... A miniseries (sometimes mini-series), in a serial storytelling medium, is a production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. ... Liber Amoris 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. ... Sir Michael John Gambon, KBE (born October 19, 1940), is an acclaimed Irish-British actor who has worked in television, film and theatre. ...


Jon Amiel directed all six episodes ("Skin", "Heat", "Lovely Days", "Clues", "Pitter Patter", "Who Done It") for the BBC with some co-production funding from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The serial was first broadcast on BBC1 in 1986 on Sunday nights from November 16 to December 21 with later PBS and cable television showings in the United States, where it won a 1989 Peabody Award. It was included in the 1992 Dennis Potter retrospective at the Museum of Television & Radio and then became a permanent addition to the Museum's collections in both New York and Los Angeles. The DVD set was released April 15, 2003. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Australian Broadcasting Corporation or ABC is Australias national non-profit public broadcaster. ... BBC One (or BBC1 as it was formerly styled) is the oldest United Kingdom, and indeed, the world. ... is the 320th day of the year (321st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 355th day of the year (356th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Not to be confused with Public Broadcasting Services in Malta. ... Cable TV redirects here. ... The George Foster Peabody Awards, more commonly referred to as the Peabody Awards, are annual international awards given for excellence in radio and television broadcasting. ... Museum of Television and Radio, New York City The Museum of Television & Radio (MTR) (formerly The Museum of Broadcasting) is a set of archives in the U.S. dedicated to the collection of programs and advertising broadcast via radio and television. ... is the 105th day of the year (106th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The serial was adapted into a 2003 film featuring Robert Downey Jr. and Mel Gibson, with the setting altered to the United States. The Singing Detective was a 2003 film based on the BBC mini-series of the same name, a work by Dennis Potter. ... Robert John Downey, Jr. ... Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson, AO (born January 3, 1956) is an American-Australian actor, historian, Academy Award-winning director, producer and screenwriter. ...

Contents

Plot

The story revolves around mystery writer Philip E. Marlow and his most recent hospital stay. Having reached its peak, his psoriatic arthropathy (a chronic skin and joint disease) forms lesions and sores covering his entire body, and partially cripples his hands and feet. Dennis Potter suffered from this disease himself, and wrote with a pen tied to his fist much in the same fashion Marlow does in the last episode. Although severe, Marlow's case was intentionally understated compared to Potter's real case: Potter's skin would sometimes crack and bleed.[1] Psoriatic arthritis (or Arthropathic psoriasis) is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects around 20% of people suffering from the chronic skin condition Psoriasis. ... In medicine, a chronic disease is a disease that is long-lasting or recurrent. ... This article is about the medical term. ...


As a result of constant pain, a fever caused by the condition, and his refusal to take medication, Marlow falls into a fantasy world involving his Chandleresque novel, The Singing Detective, an escapist adventure about a detective (also named "Philip Marlow") who sings at a dance hall and takes "the jobs the guys who don't sing" won't take. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A fantasy world is a type of fictional universe in which magic or other similar powers work. ... For other persons named Raymond Chandler, see Raymond Chandler (disambiguation). ... Escapism is mental diversion by means of entertainment or recreation, as an escape from the perceived unpleasant aspects of daily stress. ...


The real Marlow also experiences flashbacks to his childhood in rural England, and his mother's suicide in wartime London. The rural location is presumably the Forest of Dean, Potter's birthplace and the location for filming, but this is never stated explicitly. The death of his mother is one of several recurring images in the series; Marlow uses it (whether subconsciously or not) in his murder mystery, and sometimes replaces her face with different women in his life, real and imaginary. The noir mystery, however, is never actually solved; all that is ultimately revealed is an intentionally vague plot involving smuggled Nazi war criminals and Soviet agents attempting to stop them. This perhaps reflects Marlow's view that fiction should be "all clues and no solutions." A flashback is a psychological phenomenon in which an individual has a sudden, usually vivid, recollection of a past experience. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... The Forest of Dean is a geographical, historical and cultural region in the county of Gloucestershire, England. ... Mystery fiction is a distinct subgenre of detective fiction that entails the occurrence of an unknown event which requires the protagonist to make known (or solve). ... Nazism in history Nazi ideology Nazism and race Outside Germany Related subjects Lists Politics Portal         Nazism or National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus), refers primarily to the ideology and practices of the Nazi Party (National Socialist German Workers Party, German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) under Adolf Hitler. ... CCCP redirects here. ...


The three worlds of the hospital, the noir thriller, and wartime England often merge in Marlow's mind, resulting a fourth layer, in which character interactions that would otherwise be impossible (e.g. fictional characters interacting with non-fictional characters) occur. This is evident in that many of Marlow's friends and enemies (perceived or otherwise) are represented by characters in the novel: particularly, one of the boys from his childhood, Mark Binney, becomes conflated with Raymond, Marlow's mother's lover, and appears as the central antagonist in the "real" and noir worlds (although the "real" Binney/Finney is ultimately a fantasy as well). The use of Binney as a villain stems from an event in his early childhood where Marlow framed the young Binney for defecating on a disciplinarian elementary teacher's desk. The innocent Binney is brutally beaten in front of the student body, and Marlow is lauded for telling the "truth". These events haunt Marlow, as it is revealed that the real Binney eventually ends up in a mental institution. The villainous Binney/Finney character is killed off in both realities. Two silhouetted figures in The Big Combo (1955). ... The thriller is a broad genre of literature, film, and television. ... For other uses, see Antagonist (disambiguation). ... Defecation or feceation (known colloquially as pooping or shitting) is the act of eliminating solid or semisolid waste material from the digestive tract. ... A psychiatric hospital (also called a mental hospital or asylum) is a hospital specializing in the treatment of persons with mental illness. ...


Several of the actors play different parts: Marlow and his alter-ego, the singing detective, are both played by Gambon. Marlow as a boy is played by Lyndon Davies. Patrick Malahide plays three central characters - the contemporary Finney (who Marlow thinks is having an affair with his ex-wife, played by Janet Suzman); the imaginary Binney (a central character in the murder plot); and Raymond, a friend of Marlow's father who has an affair with his mother (Alison Steadman). Steadman plays both Marlow's mother, and the mysterious "Lili", one of the murder victims. Patrick Malahide (born March 24, 1945) is an English actor, who has played many major film and television roles. ... Janet Suzman (born 9 February 1939) is a South African actress and director. ... Alison Steadman OBE (born on July 26, 1945) is an award-winning English stage, television and film actress. ...


Production

According to Potter's original script, the hospital scenes and noir scenes were to be shot with television (video) and film cameras respectively, with the period material (Marlow's childhood) filmed in black-and-white.[1] However, all scenes were ultimately shot on film, over Potter's objections. Potter had also wanted the hospital scenes to maintain the sensibility of sitcom conventions.[1] Although this was tempered in the final script, some character interactions retain this concept. For example, Mr. Hall and Reginald, who are also intended to serve as a mock chorus for the main action occurring in the hospital.[1] Black-and-white or black and white) can refer to a general term used in photography, film, and other media (see black-and-white). ... A sitcom or situation comedy is a genre of comedy performance originally devised for radio but today typically found on television. ... The Greek chorus (choros) is believed to have grown out of the Greek dithyrambs and tragikon drama in tragic plays of the ancient Greek theatre. ...


Originally, the title of the series was "Smoke Rings", and the Singing Detective noir thriller was to be dropped after the first episode because Potter felt it would not hold the audience's attention.[1] The title may have referred to a particular monologue Marlow has in the first episode, referring to the fact that, despite everything else, the one thing he really wants is a cigarette.[1] In perhaps another hold over, Marlow's medical and mental progress is gauged, in some ways, by his ability to reach over to his dresser and get his pack of cigarettes.[1]


Sources

Borrowing portions of his first novel, Hide and Seek (1973), Potter added autobiographical aspects (or, as he put it, deeply "personal" aspects),[1] along with 1940s popular music and the aforementioned film noir stylistics. The result is regarded by some as one of the peaks of 20th-century drama.[2] Marlow's hallucinations are not far from the Philip Marlowe in the film adaptation of Raymond Chandler's Murder, My Sweet, with Dick Powell as Marlowe. Powell himself would later portray a "singing detective" on radio's Richard Diamond, Private Detective, serenading to his girlfriend, Helen Asher (Virginia Gregg), at the end of each episode. Ed Bishop had the title role in BBC Radios The Adventures of Philip Marlowe. ... Farewell, My Lovely (film) redirects here. ... Richard Ewing Dick Powell (November 14, 1904 – January 2, 1963) was an American singer, actor, producer, and director. ... Virginia Gregg and Dick Powell during a rehearsal for Richard Diamond, Private Detective. ... Virginia Gregg Burket (Born: March 6, 1916 in Harrisburg, Illinois, USA-Died: September 15, 1986 in Encino, California, USA from lung cancer) was an American actress. ...


A reference is made in the last episode to a novel by Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. This may be meant to suggest that Marlow is an unreliable narrator. Agatha Mary Clarissa, Lady Mallowan, DBE (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976), commonly known as Agatha Christie, was an English crime writer of novels, short stories and plays. ... The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (published in 1926) is a detective novel by Agatha Christie. ... Illustration by Gustave Doré for Baron Münchhausen: tall tales, such as those of the Baron, often feature unreliable narrators. ...


Music

As well as its darker themes, the series is notable for its use of 1940s-era music, which is often incorporated into surreal musical numbers (most notably "Dry Bones", "Accentuate the Positive" and "The Teddy Bear's Picnic"). This is a device Potter used in his earlier miniseries Pennies From Heaven. The main theme music is the classic "Peg O' My Heart", of Ziegfeld Follies fame. The use of upbeat music as the theme for such a dark story is perhaps a reference to the Carol Reed classic The Third Man, with a harmonica in the place of a zither (The Third Man is indeed referenced in a number of camera shots, according to DVD commentary).[1] The 1940s decade ran from 1940 to 1949. ... Dem Bones or Dry Bones or Dem Dry Bones is a well-known traditional spiritual, often used to teach basic anatomy to children (although its description is far from anatomically correct). ... The opening title sequence to the first episode of Pennies from Heaven. ... The theme music of a radio or television program is a piece that is written specifically for that show and usually played during the title sequence and/or end credits. ... Peg O My Heart is a popular song with words by Alfred Bryan and music by Fred Fisher, published March 15, 1913 and featured in the musical Ziegfeld Follies Of 1913. ... This article is about the Ziegfeld Follies Broadway shows . ... Sir Carol Reed (30 December 1906 – 25 April 1976) was an English film director, winner of an Academy Award for his film version of the musical, Oliver! (1968). ... This article is about film noir. ... A harmonica is a free reed wind instrument. ... Concert zither The zither is a musical string instrument, mainly used in folk music, most commonly in German-speaking Alpine Europe. ...


Director Jon Amiel compiled and spliced the generic thriller music used throughout the series from 60 library tapes he had brought together.[1]


The following is a chronological soundtrack listing: In film formats, the soundtrack is the physical area of the film which records the synchronized sound. ...

Henry Hall (2 May 1898–28 October 1989) was a British bandleader. ... Anne Shelton (November 10, 1923 - July 31, 1994) was a popular United Kingdom vocalist who is widely remembered for providing inspirational songs for soldiers both on radio broadcasts and in person at British military bases during World War II. Born Patricia Sibley in Dulwich, London, she had a No. ... Fredrick Malcolm Waring (born June 9, 1900 in Tyrone, Pennsylvania, died July 29, 1984, State College, Pennsylvania) was a popular musician, bandleader, and radio and TV personality of the 20th century, sometimes referred to as the man who taught America how to sing. ... This article is about the American Jazz composer and performer. ... Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby (May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977) was an American popular singer and Academy Award-winning actor whose career lasted from 1926 until his death in 1977. ... The Andrews Sisters on the cover of the reissue collection From left to right: Maxene, Patty, and LaVerne. ... Dick Haymes (born September 13, 1918 in Buenos Aires) was one of the most popular American male vocalists of the 1940s. ... Ronnie Ronalde (born Ronald Charles Waldron, 1923, London) is a British music hall singer and siffleur. ... Paper Doll was a hit song for the Mills Brothers. ... The Mills Brothers were an American jazz and pop vocal group of the 20th century. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Ray Noble is a common personal name that can refer to different people: Ray Noble: a baseball player Ray Noble: a musician This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Lili Marleen is a famous German song, popular during World War II. The words were originally written by Hans Leip in 1915, and later published as Das Lied eins jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht (The Song of a Young Sentry). It was set to music by Norbert Schultze in 1938. ... Lili Marleen by Lale Andersen Lale Andersen (March 23, 1905 – August 29, 1972) was a German chanson singer-songwriter born in Bremerhaven, Germany. ... The Ink Spots were a popular black vocal group that helped define the musical genre that led to rhythm & blues and rock and roll, and the subgenre doo-wop. ... Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby (May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977) was an American popular singer and Academy Award-winning actor whose career lasted from 1926 until his death in 1977. ... The Andrews Sisters on the cover of the reissue collection From left to right: Maxene, Patty, and LaVerne. ... ÁSammy Kaye (born Samuel Zarnocay, Jr. ... The Mills Brothers were an American jazz and pop vocal group of the 20th century. ... Al Jolson (May 26, 1886–October 23, 1950) was a highly acclaimed American singer, comedian and actor of Jewish heritage whose career lasted from 1911 until his death in 1950. ... Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996), also known as Lady Ella and the First Lady of Song, is considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th Century. ... The Ink Spots were a popular black vocal group that helped define the musical genre that led to rhythm & blues and rock and roll, and the subgenre doo-wop. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Ray Noble is a common personal name that can refer to different people: Ray Noble: a baseball player Ray Noble: a musician This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... For other uses, see Teddy Bears Picnic (film). ... Henry Hall (2 May 1898–28 October 1989) was a British bandleader. ... Well Meet Again is a 1939 song made famous by British singer Vera Lynn with music written by Ross Parker and words by Hughie Charles. ... Dame Vera Lynn DBE (born 20 March 1917) is a retired British singer whose career flourished during World War II, when she was nicknamed The Forces Sweetheart. She is best known for the popular songs Well Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover. Lynn is one of the...

Trivia

The British Film Institute (BFI) is a charitable organisation established by Royal Charter to encourage the development of the arts of film, television and the moving image throughout the United Kingdom, to promote their use as a record of contemporary life and manners, to promote education about film, television and... 100 Greatest British Television Programmes was a list compiled in 2000 by the British Film Institute (BFI) chosen by a poll of industry professionals, to determine what were the greatest British television programmes of any genre ever to have been screened. ... Hammersmith Bridge, seen from the Westminster to Kew tourist boat Rowing crews racing under Hammersmith Bridge Hammersmith Bridge is a crossing of the River Thames in west London, just south of the Hammersmith town centre area of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham on the north side of the...

Further reading

  • Mundy, John (2006). "Singing Detected: Blackpool and the Strange Case of the Missing Television Musical Dramas". Journal of British Cinema and Television 3 (1): 59-71. Edinburgh University Press. 

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The Singing Detective (supplementary audio track by Jon Amiel and Kenith Trodd). DVD. Disc 1. Prod. BBC; dist. BBC Video, 2002.
  2. ^ Arena:Dennis Potter, bbc.co.uk

External links

For the in-memory database management system, see In-memory database. ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
Singing Detective, The (1059 words)
Two key incidents in The Singing Detective are based on real-life incidents in childhood--his mother, a pub pianist, being kissed by a man, and Potter's writing a four-letter word on the flboard when his precocious facility as a young writer made him unpopular with other schoolchildren.
The Singing Detective is thus not only the serial that the TV viewer is watching, but the fiction that Marlow is rewriting in his head.
In terms of narrative frequency, The Singing Detective is further marked by a high degree of repetition--of words, events, and visual images--as the same event, or part of it, is retold, re-worked, or recontextualised.
"The Singing Detective" - Salon (1234 words)
"Singing Detective" could ever hold a candle to the 1986 BBC production directed by Jon Amiel that, for my money at least, is still the greatest thing ever presented on television.
The pop culture of "The Singing Detective" -- hard-boiled detective novels and big-band pop -- was distinctly American in flavor.
At the end of the original "Singing Detective," you felt as if you were looking back at a vast landscape so fully imagined you could enter it.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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