8.6/10
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47 user 15 critic

The Singing Detective 

Tormented and bedridden by a debilitating disease, a mystery writer relives his detective stories through his imagination and hallucinations.
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1  
1986  
6 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
Michael Gambon ...  Philip Marlow 6 episodes, 1986
Patrick Malahide ...  Mark Binney / ... 6 episodes, 1986
Joanne Whalley ...  Nurse Mills 6 episodes, 1986
David Ryall ...  Mr. Hall 6 episodes, 1986
Gerard Horan ...  Reginald 6 episodes, 1986
Leslie French Leslie French ...  Mr. Tomkey / ... 6 episodes, 1986
Ron Cook ...  First Mysterious Man 6 episodes, 1986
George Rossi ...  Second Mysterious Man 6 episodes, 1986
Sharon D. Clarke ...  Night Nurse 6 episodes, 1986
Lyndon Davies Lyndon Davies ...  Philip (aged 10) 6 episodes, 1986
Geff Francis Geff Francis ...  Porter 6 episodes, 1986
Janet Suzman ...  Nicola 5 episodes, 1986
Alison Steadman ...  Mrs. Marlow / ... 5 episodes, 1986
Jim Carter ...  Mr. Marlow 5 episodes, 1986
Imelda Staunton ...  Staff Nurse White 5 episodes, 1986
Janet Henfrey Janet Henfrey ...  Schoolteacher 5 episodes, 1986
Bill Paterson ...  Dr. Gibbon 4 episodes, 1986
William Speakman William Speakman ...  Mark Binney (aged 10) / ... 4 episodes, 1986
Simon Chandler ...  Dr. Finlay 4 episodes, 1986
Charles Simon Charles Simon ...  George Adams 4 episodes, 1986
Wally Thomas ...  Grandad Baxter 3 episodes, 1986
Kate McKenzie Kate McKenzie ...  Sonia 3 episodes, 1986
Trevor Cooper ...  Cloth Cap / ... 3 episodes, 1986
Charon Bourke Charon Bourke ...  Amanda 2 episodes, 1986
Mary MacLeod Mary MacLeod ...  Sister Malone 2 episodes, 1986
Thomas Wheatley Thomas Wheatley ...  Registrar 2 episodes, 1986
Ken Stott ...  Uncle John 2 episodes, 1986
Jo Cameron Brown ...  Aunt Emily 2 episodes, 1986
Niven Boyd Niven Boyd ...  First Soldier 2 episodes, 1986
Angela Curran Angela Curran ...  Mary 2 episodes, 1986
David Thewlis ...  Second Soldier 2 episodes, 1986
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Storyline

Reworking material from his first novel, "Hide and Seek" (1973), and folding this into a prismatic blend of autobiographical details, popular music and 1940s film noir, Dennis Potter delivered a drama now regarded as a 20th-century masterwork. Detective novelist Philip Marlow (Michael Gambon) suffers from the crippling disease of psoriatic arthritis. Confined to a hospital bed, Marlow mentally rewrites his early Chandleresque thriller, "The Singing Detective," with himself in the title role, drifting into a surreal 1945 fantasy of spies and criminals, along with vivid memories of a childhood in the Forest of Dean. As past events and 1940s songs surface in his subconscious, Marlow's voyage of self-discovery provides a key to conquering his illness, while his noir-styled hallucinations evoke the Philip Marlowe of Chandler's "Murder, My Sweet" (1944), starring Dick Powell, who later became a "singing detective" on radio's "Richard Diamond, Private Detective" (1949), crooning to ... Written by Bhob Stewart <bhob2@aol.com>

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Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Australia | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 November 1986 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Singing Detective See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(6 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The illustrations during the opening titles were done by comic book artist Mark Thomas. See more »

Quotes

Philip E. Marlow: [of nurses] Like all morons with a mania for order, they put everything you really want exactly where you can't get at it.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Harry & Paul's Story of the 2s (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Peg o' My Heart
(uncredited)
Music by Fred Fisher
Performed by Max Harris & His Novelty Trio during the credits
See more »

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User Reviews

 
As Good As TV Gets
20 February 2002 | by shark-43See all my reviews

I absolutely adore this piece of work. Jon Amiel's sensitive, clever direction, Dennis Potter's biting, brilliant script and the towering lead performance by the great Michael Gambon makes this a treat to watch. It's for those viewers who like to be treated as if they have a brain in their head and they don't need everything spelled out for them and telegraphed what is about to happen. With patience, this story unfolds with amazing power and in the long run, stunning optimism. There are three stories going on, really: an ill writer with a horrible skin condition is hospitalized and he rants and yells at all of those who come by him; fellow patients, nurses and doctors. But as he lays in bed, he begins to hallucinate from his high fever and he begins to re-write an old crime noir novel he once wrote called, The Singing Detective. He also is completely overwhelmed with memories from his childhood and growing up amongst a poor, ignorant coal-mining family in the woods of England. Aside from the amazing Gambon, this film is loaded with great performances: from Janet Suzman to Bill Patterson to Alison Steadman (as his unhappy Mother). I own a copy of this magnificent mini-series and I watch it over and over. A masterpiece. Mr. Potter, rest in peace, sir.


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