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Dennis Potter: a unique Forest voice
Dennis Potter
Dennis Potter
Last updated: 14 May 2004 0952 BST
line This year sees the tenth anniversary of the death of the writer Dennis Potter, a coalminer's son from the Forest whose life will be celebrated at the Voices In The Forest festival.
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Voices in the Forest

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The tenth anniversary of Dennis Potter's death this year will be commemorated by the Voices in the Forest festival, which features a week of events culminating in a day of celebration on Sunday June 27.

Potter is arguably the most famous Forester of his generation.

Born in 1935 in the village of Berry Hill near Coleford, the son of a coalminer, by his death in 1994 he had dominated British screen drama for almost three decades.

From the age of 26 he was afflicted with Psoriaic Arthropathy, a disease which combines the symptoms of skin disease psoriasis and arthritis.

Prior to this he had pursued careers in journalism and politics, but his illness forced him to withdraw from the public eye.

Writing

Potter decided to concentrate on his writing, first rising to prominence in 1965 when four of his plays were transmitted in the BBC's respected Wednesday Play slot, which was dedicated to cutting-edge contemporary drama.

His non-naturalistic style was partly a reaction to what he described as the "dreary" drama of the time.

Potter's plays featured surreal touches such as characters breaking into song (Pennies From Heaven, which made a star of Bob Hoskins) and children played by adults (Blue Remembered Hills).

The Singing Detective
Michael Gambon in The Singing Detective

Influential

During his career he wrote 28 plays, including The Singing Detective, Brimstone And Treacle and Lipstick On Your Collar, which provided actor Ewan Macgregor with his first major starring role.

In February 1994 Potter was diagnosed as suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Against the medical odds he survived another four months to complete his works Cold Lazarus and Karaoke, which, in an unusual colloboration, were broadcast on both Channel 4 and BBC1.

Festival

You can learn more about Potter and the Forest of Dean at the Voices in the Forest community festival.

Work is already under way with schools and community groups to produce new work for the week-long festival, which will include talks, music and screenings.

Voices In The Forest
Venue Beechenhurt, Forest Of Dean
Date Sunday June 27
Info Voices In The Forest

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