Meet one of the greatest TV writers of all time

American film buffs know Dennis Potter as the writer of Pennies from Heaven and The Singing Detective — brilliantly turned miniseries that later became Hollywood movies. But in England, Potter’s remembered as a fiery, unconventional, often-outraged figure: a coal miner’s son (and Oxford scholarship boy) with an uncanny eye for the dirt behind his nation’s daydreams. He was perhaps the finest television writer of his time, and earlier this week three of his seldom-seen TV dramas became available on DVD.

Blade on the Feather features Donald Pleasence as a college professor with a criminal past. Rain on the Roof is a riveting set piece about a marriage gone terribly awry. Cream in My Coffee sends an elderly couple back to the scene of their first assignation. The films, which aired on London Weekend Television in 1980, come in a three-disc set, which also includes the famous hour-long interview Potter gave on Channel 4 just a few months before his death (from pancreatic and liver cancer, in 1994). The author — who sips liquid morphine throughout and talks about naming his tumor Rupert, after Rupert Murdoch — is remarkably candid, and unbelievably composed.

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