Music to my eyes

Arts (Television): Music to my eyes


1 December 1986

The Times

After three episodes, The Singing Detective (BBC1) is developing into the most compelling television drama I have ever seen.

An institution with the courage, imagination and the production values to make something like this must be fundamentally healthy at its core.

And a man who can create such a dramatization of his own life, illness and fantasies - and then transform this into an entertaining exploration of the creative process - is quite simply a genius. But then, as he has made amply clear in his previous dramas in his recent novel Ticket To Ride, Dennis Potter is currently one of the nearest things we have to this Faustian state.

The casting is impeccable. Charles Simon (the grotesque old man in hospital), Joanne Whalley (the nurse), Patrick Malahide, Lyndon Davies and Alison Steadman are just a few of the actors to be distingushed by their script and direction (John Amiel).

And alternatively rasping and crooning over all, is Michael Gambon, the invalid writer in agony who juggles between his hospital bed, his childhood and his fiction and from his wild imaginings conjures a detective story in search of his past life.

Potent with cheap music, redolent with the imagery of copulation and death, it is a story that shocks, challenges and finally astonishes.

last updated october 2014