British Film

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Peter Stead, in Dennis Potter, contradicts this second point by offering an interpretation of The Singing Detective that differs from mine. He says "the writer Marlow deconstructs his life and comes to terms with the fact that it was Nicola he killed off in his book and that in childhood he betrayed another child in school and inadvertently revealed information that lead to what might have been his mother's suicide". Here he has the body representing Marlow's wife and places doubt on his mother's suicide, I believe this to be an error in interpretation. During the course of the six episodes the corpse appears as Sonia (episode 2), his mother (episode 5) and then Nicola (episode 5). But it is stated that the screenplay of the novel, and hence the novel itself, was written before Marlow met Nicola. Also, the corpse is dragged up from beneath Hammersmith bridge. The only time a character from the childhood flashbacks appears to intrude on the film-noir fantasy (apart from Marlow's casting of Mark Binney) is when his mother appears as a prostitute in Episode 3. In one scene she appears on Hammersmith bridge, this scene transpires not to be a crossover but the point in the 1930's story just before his mother threw herself off that same bridge. This also ties in with Potter's sex/death association. When the corpse appears as Nicola this is a sign that Marlow is gaining control over his hallucinations, it is prompted by Reg, the reader meeting the author, who says "I bet you just lie there all day thinking about murdering people". In the last two episodes it is evident that Marlow can control his fantasies to a certain extent, he enters one of the Finney/Nicola scenes and puts words into Finney's mouth attacking Nicola before losing control again and the fantasy Nicola accuses him of using his illness as a weapon. Marlow reworks the novel in the ward to kill his wife, as part of his paranoid fantasy about Finney, but in the novel itself the body irrefutably represents his mother.

Dennis Potter - The Singing Detective
Dennis Potter - Detective
Dennis Potter - Marlow
Dennis Potter - Infirmity
Dennis Potter - Guilt
Dennis Potter - Sexuality
Dennis Potter - Auteur
Dennis Potter - Religion
Dennis Potter - Autobiography
Dennis Potter - Auteur
Dennis Potter - Other
Dennis Potter - Bibliography
Dennis Potter - Links
The Singing Detective