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The Singing Detective Song (or (It’s a) Potter Play), is a song that appeared on Spitting Image. The song is a parody of The Singing Detective, using the main character of Phillip E. Marlow having another one of his fever dream sequences. It mocks many of the devices and conventions that Dennis Potter often relied on in his plays. As always, Spitting Image wanted to knock down a beloved and renowned genius as being nothing more than a series of the same tricks.

Visual and Lyric Explanations[]

As the song mentions, the entire composition and visuals are in reference to Dennis Potter conventions. The instruments and singing is done in a 1930s upbeat song, while the video is a recreation of the dream sequences that occur in the singing Detective. Members of the Hospital staff appear to choreograph a song number with plenty of strange visuals and scenery changes.

The intro line "Mister thinly-disguised author" is likely in reference to the fact that character Phillip E. Marlow is not so subtly a stand in for many of Potter's own beliefs and experiences (in fact, he experienced the very same condition that Marlow deals with in the story). Potter's brief part at the end of the song is mocking the idea that Potter doesn't just get aroused by the sexual themes in his plays. The line "someone in a cornfield screwing your mum", is in reference to the reveal in The Singing Detective that Marlow's mother was having an affair with his father's friend. The line "we know they're is gonna be a repeat" is a implying that while The Singing Detective didn't win the most prestigious award, it still will go on to have so much success it doesn't even matter.

Members of the Hospital staff include Bob Hoskins and Sting. In the scene at the performance, Pete Townshend appears as the guitar player and Phil Collins on drums.



Now, Mister thinly-disguised author, take your ointment like a good little boy.

(Phillip E Marlow)

Oh God! Here come the bloody nurses. I hope I don’t get a stiffy.


Yes it’s a jolly, jaunty, 30s song.
Bring in some dancing and you-can’t-go-wrong.
A girl in suspenders, hip-hip-hooray!
We’re in a Dennis Potter play!

It may be a trick that he’s used before,
Combining pretty text with an old time score.
The Potter is the greatest playwright e-ever,
And you can't deny he’s frightfully clever!

Yes it’s a happy, upbeat, mel-o-dy,
Juxtaposing dreams with re-a-li-ty!
Sentimental tunes
Verses big today.
Yes, it’s a Dennis Potter play!

It’s a subtle mix of tears and laughter.
Who gives a jot? We didn’t win the BAFTA.
We’re all smiling brightly in the face of defeat.
Cause we know there’s going to be-a-repeat.

If there’s a bit of tit and bum,
Someone in a cornfield screwing your mum,
Then a breezy number, that’s bright and gay,
Bet your bottom-dollar it’s a Potter play!

(Dennis Potter)

That’s terribly unfair. Christabel didn't use this device at all. It was a terribly serious piece about Nazis.
Oh dear, I’ve got a stiffy!


Yes it’s a jolly, jaunty, 30s song.
Bring in some dancing and you can’t go wrong.
A girl in suspenders, hip-hip-hooray!
We’re in a Dennis Potter play!

(Melody followed by humming for the rest of the song and scat).



Spitting image The Singing Detective song