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Interview with Dennis Potter, An (1994)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Dennis Potter walks into an empty television stage where two chairs and a table have been set up, followed by Melvyn Bragg, who asks Potter how his new script is going and when he started it. Potter tells him that he has been working at it since he received news of his fatal illness and that he is observing a strict work regimen so that he can finish his work while he still has the energy. Potter describes the initial misdiagnosis and the eventual release that came from knowing the truth and the determination it gave him to finish the plays he was working on.

Potter talks about his rejection of traditional religious dogma and of his childhood in the Forest of Dean and how it inspired his television play 'Blue Remembered Hills'. He remembers how he came to realise that writing for him was a vocation and how he used his own life as an inspiration for his work. Potter also recalls how he used to hate working on the Daily Herald newspaper, and how despicable he finds the effect that Rupert Murdoch has had on the mass media, revealing that he has named his main cancer 'Rupert'.

Potter takes a moment to rest and take some morphine, then goes on to discuss the genesis of his serial 'Pennies from Heaven', then describes his response to the controversies over 'Brimstone and Treacle' and 'Blackeyes', and how hurt he was by the accusations of misogyny.

Potter asks that his last two plays, 'Karaoke' and 'Cold Lazarus' be jointly produced by the BBC and Channel 4 so they might be a fitting memorial. Bragg thanks the camera crew, then he and Potter leave the studio.