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The Singing Detective [Paperback]

Dennis Potter
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 15.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

4 April 2003
This is the unabridged original text of Dennis Potter's acclaimed six-part television serial. The narrative counterpoints life in a hospital ward of a writer crippled by a horrific skin disease with the plot of his atmospheric thriller to the point where fantasy and reality seem to exchange places. The result is the most painful and disturbing screen drama of the 1980s.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (4 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571145906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571145904
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 549,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Dennis Potter was born in 1935 in Gloucestershire. After National Service he won a place at New College, Oxford where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He became one of Britain's most accomplished and acclaimed dramatists. His plays for television include Blue Remembered Hills (1979), Brimstone and Treacle (commissioned in 1975 but banned until 1987), the series Pennies from Heaven (1978), The Singing Detective (1986), Blackeyes (1989) and Lipstick on Your Collar (1993). He also wrote novels, stage plays and screenplays. Seeing the Blossom, his final television interview, was published in 1994. He died in June 1994.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychological thriller: Potter at his best 30 Mar 1999
By A Customer
A writer lies in a hospital bed, crippled by psoriasis, and in his delirium weaves together the present, memories of his childhood in a rural mining community, and the exploits of his fictional alter ego, the suave 1940s 'singing detective'. This is the screenplay of the late Dennis Potter's 1986 psychological thriller for television, whose autobiographical elements make this probably the most revealing and definitive Potter work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent play in excellent condition 9 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was inspired to buy this play by Dennis Potter after the fantastic television series was transmitted again recently. I remember it vividly from its first broadcast in the 1980s and was astonished that Murdoch, whom Potter despised, was in the news again with the phone hacking scandal. He would have been delighted at the publisher's comeuppance! The book, despite its age, was in excellent condition and delivered swiftly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A BRILLIANT SCREENPLAY 4 Sep 2011
If you are a fan of the brilliant BBC Television presenation or simply a fan of Dennis Potter, this is a fascinating read. However, it is not a novel or a "novelization," it is his sparsely written screenplay. If you have never read a screenplay before, I would not reccomend you begin with this one.

The story revolves around an author, Marlow, in a London hospital ward who is nearly paralyzed by arthritis and psoriasis. Marlow drifts in and out of the present and the past, fantasy and fiction, weaving his own life with that of the fictional detective in his pulp fiction novels. Pure genius, pure Dennis Potter!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potter's masterpiece 4 Sep 2004
By A Customer
Potter's greatest TV serial. a must-have item for any intelligent reader/viewer.
great stories, great dialogue, great characterization.
this printed text can be enjoyed by new Potter fans who haven't watched the BBC serial: it reads like a novel. no one writes a better TV serial'n Dennis Potter.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Screenplay 5 April 2000
By Howard Duck - Published on
The Singing Detective may be the best screenplay ever written. I have the video and the original text (including cast) which I obtained thru interlibrary loan and copied. Its richness derives, not only from its excellent production, directing and cast, but also from its similarities to Dennis Potter's own life. Am now looking for the soundtrack: The Other Side of the Singing Detective, BBC CD 708 or ZCN 708 (cassette). email address:
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this a book? 6 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on
As the Designer responsible for producing the "prop" book to which the protagonist refers throughout the series, I can tell you it existed only as a cover pasted over an unrelated 1940's pulp novel. Extracts from the book, as read by Michael Gambon on screen, formed part of the original scripts written by Dennis Potter, a copy of which I am fortunate to hold. These are well worth the read for the rich visual imagery interwoven with dialogue. If this book exists, I guess it reproduces the same shooting script. If not, that would be a pity.
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT! 4 Sep 2011
By S. Paretsky - Published on
What we have here is not a novel or a "novelization" but rather, the screenplay for the brilliant BBC Television presentation of "The Singing Detective." If you have never read a screenplay, this may not be the place to begin, for even viewing this work as a multi-part series is challenging (in a good way) to the audience. However, if you are familiar with screenplays or you've seen this magnificent production starring Michael Gambon then you are in for a real treat.

Dennis Potter's story is about an author in a London hospital ward, nearly paralyzed by arthritis and psoriasis. Like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel, Marlow drifts between the present and the past, reality and fantasy. Marlow weaves the elements of his own life with that of the cheap, dime-store detective in his pulp fiction novels. The result is truly extraordinary.

Although currently out of print, copies are available at surprisingly good prices.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More like a Cubist painting than a book 16 Mar 2009
By Jeff - Published on
The Singing Detective is the complete screenplay of a 6 part British TV series of the same name. I've not seen the TV series, but from reading the screenplay, I can tell that it is far more like a Cubist painting by Braque than it is any straightforward telling of a mystery story. If you liked The Usual Suspects and can imagine it as a screenplay, the result would look a lot like The Singing Detective.

The story follows a young man named Philip Marlowe through to his last days in a British hospital. It introduces us to his family, friends, wife through a series of flashbacks and scene shifts which happen chop-a-block throughout the tale. Reading this book, I'm reminded strongly of the protagonist in Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan, who got unstuck in time and is constantly shifted forwards and backwards along his time line for brief periods before he is off to another spot on his time line.

There's a murder, there's robbery, there's connivance, and there is most certainly deceit in this tale. In some sense, it is just a microsm of human foibles, told without any adornment.

At the end, I was glad I read the screenplay, but it made me realize that watching the series is likely to be far more rewarding.
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