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Singing Detective, The

Gambon goes googly eyed; cue the musical fantasy sequence! "I can just 'bout see tha' plot from up 'ere"

THE PINNACLE of Potterism. Here, over six weeks on peak time Sunday BBC1, was childhood repression, physical degradation, casual racism, a profusion of breastage, village school bullying, turds in desks, runaway wheelchairs, runaway Underground trains, too too too much flaky skin, PATRICK MALAHIDE’s bare bonking arse in the woods, imaginary hitmen, pulp crime fiction, palm court dance bands, word games, ALISON STEADMAN – or maybe JANET SUZMAN – being fished naked out of the Thames, talking scarecrows, the tallest tree in the world and MICHAEL GAMBON getting his penis greased. All set to the swinging sound of 1940s popular music classics. “When I grow up, everything, everything will be all right.”



  1. Dave Nightingale

    November 15, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Wot No Joanne Whalley as Nurse Mills? 🙁

  2. Arthur Nibble

    November 18, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    “Ah! I’m so sorry.That’s the one part of me that still sort of functions.”

  3. Lee James Turnock

    May 1, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Janet Henfrey as the teacher was bloody terrifying.

  4. Glenn A

    May 2, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    We had a deputy headmistress like that at my school. Didn’t she also get them to sing It’s A Lovely Day tomorrow in one episode?

  5. Lee James Turnock

    May 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I remember her putting “the fear of God” into them after the Michael Gambon character dropped a huge turd on her desk.

  6. Victor Serge

    August 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Just watched this for the first time. While it all seems dredged right from Potter’s subconscious (though he denied it was autobiographical), does the fact that it resonated with a broader audeince speak to his story-telling ability, or that sexual repression, tyrannical teachers and self-loathing are universal, at least for those in the UK?

    Oh yes, Henfrey as the blank-eyed scarecrow was even more terrifying than the classroom interrogation!

  7. richardpd

    August 26, 2018 at 11:32 am

    I remember my Dad really liking this when it was first shown.

    Around the time it was shown Mary Whitehouse was sued by Potter’s Mum for suggesting she had an adulterous affair which then influenced Dennis’s writing.

  8. Tom Ronson

    March 31, 2022 at 3:42 am

    Definitely Dennis Potter’s masterpiece. Also inspired one of the funniest lines in Bottom – ‘I couldn’t believe that nurse. All I said was “Hello! Did you watch The Singing Detective?” – and she twatted me with a kidney bowl!’

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