Dennis Potter in the Present Tense
Potter in the Present Tense is Project Adorno's tribute to the
television screenwriter Dennis Potter. It brings together the Adornos'
words/music with samples from interviews with the following people: Potter's
daughter Jane Chowns; his long-term producer Kenith Trodd (sic); academics
John R Cook, Hannah Grist and Jason Griffiths; and John Belcher, the keeper
of the flame in Potter's native village.
show charts Potter's course from humble beginnings (he was the son of a
miner in the Forest of Dean) to celebrity status as the man behind Pennies
From Heaven, The Singing Detective and Lipstick
on Your Collar. Project Adorno's accompanying film was shot in the
Forest of Dean and other places with Potter associations.
1) Intro (ambient) Daughter
Jane sums up DP's character and themes, accompanied by a roll-call of
elemental-sounding place-names from the Forest.
2) Arena (spoken
word) A pastiche of one of DP's often scathing television reviews -
the subject of this one being himself.
the Present (song) Celebrates one of DP's best-known
interviews, in which he speaks of 'the nowness of now'.
Church of the Mixed Metaphor (song) Alludes to DP's
upbringing as a chapel-goer and to the imagery in Sankey & Moody's
famous collections of hymns.
Nights in Coleford (song) Forest leisure-time
revolved around the local social club. DP, for better or for worse, saw this
as a symbol of the class that he was leaving behind.
Bowlly Part 1 (spoken word) Imagines DP at a Fulham FC
match in the early 1950s and links it with his feelings for his favourite
singer, the '30s crooner Al Bowlly.
7) Blackeyes (song) Explores
DP's most controversial work, the novel/screenplay Blackeyes:
was he being misogynistic or simply writing about misogyny?
Bridge (song) DP's mother came from Hammersmith, and
the bridge is used emblematically in both Pennies From Heaven and The
9) Potterhead (song) Inspired
by Hannah Grist's revelation that DP still has a number of obsessive fans:
'Potter-mad is an understatement.'
Detective' sequence (ambient) The interviewees discuss
their first impressions and lasting memories of DP's meisterwerk.
11) 1993 (song) Praveen
connects his own experience of working in the civil service with watching
the similarly-themed Lipstick on Your Collar on TV.
Bowlly Part 2 (spoken word) Focuses on Bowlly himself,
who was killed by a WW2 bomb-blast as he sat in bed reading.
Remembered Hills' sequence (ambient) Jane Chowns and
John Cook discuss Blue Remembered Hills - DP's play in
which children are played by adults.
Potter (song) As much a tribute to the Lou Reed/John
Cale album Songs For Drella as to DP himself!
15) Razoxane (song) A
reggae number concerning the miracle drug that came close to curing DP's
and Seek (song) Asks whether the novel Hide and
Seek is really 'the key to Potter' - and also whether DP's
narrator-characters are really DP himself.
Last Words (song) Inspired by DP's final interview with
Melvyn Bragg, tipping lyrical nods to Ira Sankey and The The, and segueing
into Jane Chowns's summing-up.
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