And the Beat Goes on: the continuing legacy of 'The Singing Detective'

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From the 25 years of its original broadcast on British television in December 1986, this article aims to assess the continued influence of the British TV serial, The Singing Detective (BBC). It aims to clarify many of the major techniques employed in the programme and suggest ways in which its particular style and non-naturalistic aesthetic (with its roots dating back to the early 1960s) has influenced a whole generation of TV drama since. In particular, it will draw direct parallels between writer Dennis Potter's work and serials such as Twin Peaks, Oz, Six Feet Under and The Sopranos, citing various sources that suggest these connections are more than just hypothetical. The American cable channel HBO (Home Box Office) will come under particular focus, with the author drawing links between its current remit to produce experimental and adult-themed drama and Potter's own work. It will then investigate the state of contemporary British television drama and suggest why it arguably refuses to take as many risks as some of its American counterparts, citing various sources which suggest that contemporary British hard-hitting drama appears to have been forsaken for a plethora of heritage and period-based serials. In conclusion, it will argue that while the influence of The Singing Detective appears to have been profoundly significant elsewhere, its dramatic legacy is now surprisingly missing from British TV screens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-258
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Screenwriting
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2013


  • television
  • drama
  • naturalism
  • non-naturalism
  • serialisation
  • HBO
  • heritage drame


Dive into the research topics of 'And the Beat Goes on: the continuing legacy of 'The Singing Detective''. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this