Dennis Potter is the most gifted and influential playwright in television history. Millions of people have been fascinated by his novels, plays, adaptations and films. Brilliant Oxford student, journalist, an early television critic, a failed parliamentary candidate, Potter belongs to that generation of the working-class which rose to prominence in the media during the sixties.
Seldom less than controversial, Potter’s plays have ranged from the lives of Christ and Casanova to dramatic milestones such as Brimstone and Treacle, Pennies from Heaven and The Singing Detective. This pioneering study of Potter’s work uncovers a playwright pre-occupied by guilt, betrayal and a society diverted from its traditional values by consumerism. Far from being in the vanguard of sexual liberation and explicitness, a frequent criticism, Potter is concerned with sexual responsibility and integrity in relationships. The source of worth, "Potterland" as Peter Stead terms it, is not modern, media-centred London but the working-class community of his childhood in the Forest of Dean.
Potter’s challenging body of work is revealed as a continually developing and deeply principled response to the changes of the last thirty years. Peter Stead has written an invaluable introduction to Dennis Potter’s work, analysing the major plays and assessing his place in contemporary British culture.