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the Complete Review
the complete review - interviews


Potter on Potter

Dennis Potter

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To purchase Potter on Potter

Title: Potter on Potter
Author: Dennis Potter
Genre: Interviews
Written: (1993)
Length: 147 pages
Availability: Potter on Potter - US
Potter on Potter - UK
Potter on Potter - Canada
  • Edited and with an Introduction by Graham Fuller
  • The interviews with Dennis Potter amalgamated here were conducted in 1988 and 1992
  • Includes a Filmography and Bibliography
  • Includes 43 photographs

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Our Assessment:

B+ : good overview of Potter's career, largely in his own words

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
New Statesman & Society A 17/6/1994 Boyd Tonkin
Sight and Sound . 6/1993 .
TLS . 26/3/1993 Mick Imlah
Voice Lit. Supp. . 2/1995 Katherine Dieckmann

  From the Reviews:
  • "Potter knew very well what his niche as a licensed irritant permitted. This recognition -- even, sometimes, his amazement at what he got away with -- shines through (...) Potter on Potter." - Boyd Tonkin, New Statesman & Society

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Potter on Potter offers Dennis Potter in his own words, as he discusses his life and career with Graham Fuller. Fuller has adeptly taken material from a number of interviews and fashioned a book that covers most of Potter's life and work, neatly dividing it up into chapters with different foci.
       This volume is, of course overshadowed by Seeing the Blossoms (1994), which includes Potter's famous interview with Melvyn Bragg, filmed when he was already gravely ill. Fuller completed his interviews in 1992, arguably still with a very different man: there was no death sentence hanging over Potter yet, there is only the hint of a previous incarnation of Karaoke and no mention of Cold Lazarus. Still, Fuller's book is useful -- and there are certain advantages to considering Potter before the final phase.
       In his introduction, and in the introductory passages at the beginning of each chapter, Fuller succinctly gives the necessary background. There are six chapters (and a seventh as a Conclusion), each of which explores a different facet of Potter's life and career. The first looks at Potter's childhood, while the rest focus more directly on the work.
       Fuller chooses to examine Potter's work basically by genre, rather than chronologically -- though, in fact, there is a basic chronological agreement, as Potter's career did indeed almost move from one phase to the next. After the biographical first chapter, the second looks at The Single Plays, focussing on Potter's plays for television. The third chapter considers his adaptations of other writers' works, a particularly useful (because so often overlooked) aspect of Potter's career. Potter's discussion of his adaptations Casanova and Tender is the Night are of particular interest.
       The fourth chapter consider the Serials with Songs, including Potter's most famous works, Pennies from Heaven and The Singing Detective, as well as the less successful Lipstick on your Collar.
       The fifth chapter considers the Films and Stage Plays -- again a very useful overview, because it is a part of Potter's work that is not often discussed. Finally, the sixth chapter considers Potter's novels and his work as a director of his own films -- interesting reflections on aspects of his career he is not as well known for (and did not achieve as great success with).
       These interviews offer much insight into Potter's work. He expresses himself clearly and well, and Fuller has edited the interviews together into a very presentable and clear text. The volume functions well as an (auto)biography of Potter, offering a surprising amount of information and insight, given how short the book actually is. Except that there is nothing about the significant last year it could almost pass as a substitute for a massive tome such as Humphrey Carpenter's Dennis Potter (see our review).
       There is also an exemplary Filmography -- the best we have seen in any Potter-book (save that it only goes to 1992). It even lists what songs were used in what episodes of what productions. A standard bibliography (now slightly out of date as well) and 43 illustrations round out the book.
       Potter on Potter is essential reading for any Potter-fan, and also generally of interest. A shame Faber has let it fall out of print.

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Potter on Potter: Dennis Potter: Other books by Dennis Potter under review: Books about Dennis Potter under review:

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About the Author:

       English author Dennis Potter (1935-1994) is best known for his television scripts Pennies from Heaven and The Singing Detective.

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