The Singing Detective(1986) is in some ways a contradiction. It is often
regarded as the epitome of Dennis Potter's writing, the peak of his creativity
and the culmination of all his previous themes, but at the same time it stands
out as a very atypical work, with its use of genre and the absence of many Dennis
The thematic consistency across Dennis Potter's work has resulted in him
being dubbed a 'TV Auteur', but in this text the use of genre may undermine
this. W. Stephen Gilbert, in Fight and Kick and Bite says
"The Singing Detective
is a summation of Potterana. It is his Hamlet, his Ulysses ... his White Album.
It is a vade mecum of his themes and concerns and characters and techniques". I
think it is more reasonable to regard The Singing Detective as a turning point,
an accumulation of many old themes and an introduction of new ones for further
exploration. Even if it doesn't cover all of Dennis Potter's themes it is the one single
work in his canon that attempts to bring together the greatest number of themes
in one text.
This project examines some of Dennis Potter's themes as expressed in The Singing Detective.
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