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Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1998, 21 January 1999

... an empty Leeds and the train to King’s Cross. 10 September. Watch some of a programme about Dennis Potter, but the assumptions it makes about the relationship between art and life are so naive and wide-eyed and scarcely above the tabloid level that I don’t persist. It takes Potter at his own self-valuation ...

Dazed and Confused

Paul Laity: Are the English human?, 28 November 2002

Patriots: National Identity in Britain 1940-2000 
by Richard Weight.
Macmillan, 866 pp., £25, May 2002, 0 333 73462 9
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Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom 
by Tom Nairn.
Verso, 176 pp., £13, September 2002, 1 85984 657 2
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Identity of England 
by Robert Colls.
Oxford, 422 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 19 924519 3
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Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, October 2002, 1 85619 716 6
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... the Open University and the new wave of BBC comedy and drama (Dad’s Army, Monty Python, Dennis Potter). This was part of a cultural revival. Union Jacks began to appear in the oddest places: on Mary Quant miniskirts and draped round the shoulders of Pete Townshend (Patriots is always keen to assert the world-beating quality of British ...

The Whole Secret of Clive James

Karl Miller, 22 May 1980

Unreliable Memoirs 
by Clive James.
Cape, 171 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 224 01825 6
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... A little over a year ago, a very good play was screened on BBC Television, Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills. A troupe of adult actors climbed into shorts and re-enacted the days of Potter’s youth – fights, ordeals, boasts, burnings, with an Indian file of girls manoeuvring in relation to the Indian file of boys, each brave or squaw as solemn as Sioux ...

Nothing nasty in the woodshed

John Bayley, 25 October 1990

Yours, Plum: The Letters of P.G. Wodehouse 
edited by Frances Donaldson.
Hutchinson, 269 pp., £16.99, September 1990, 0 09 174639 6
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... impute, is lost by Wodehouse, and turned into a mutually jokey fantasy from the world of Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright and Gussie Fink-Nottle. Intellectuals, and journalists looking for worms in the apple, find it hard to forgive Wodehouse for being so apparently sunny and straightforward. Surely there must be some dark secret somewhere? Reviews of his letters ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997, 1 January 1998

... Literary Diary which records the birthdays of various contemporary literary figures. Here is Dennis Potter on 17 May, Michael Frayn on 8 September, Edna O’Brien on 15 December, and so naturally I turn to my own birthday. May 9 is blank except for the note: ‘The first British self-service launderette is opened on Queensway, London 1949.’ 4 ...

The Tell-Tale Trolley

Stefan Collini, 8 September 1994

Townscape with Figures: Farnham, Portrait of an English Town 
by Richard Hoggart.
Chatto, 205 pp., £16.99, June 1994, 0 7011 6138 8
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... Richard Hoggart loves shopping. It is not just the fact that, being retired, he can now potter off at hours when others are chained to their desks; even in The Uses of Literacy there were signs that we were talking serious shopping. Love of a bargain is one thing at work here (he reports with some pride that even now most of the books he buys are ...

Flat-Nose, Stocky and Beautugly

James Davidson: Greek Names, 23 September 2010

A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names. Vol. V.A Coastal Asia Minor: Pontos to Ionia 
edited by T. Corsten.
Oxford, 496 pp., £125, March 2010, 978 0 19 956743 0
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... Greek names could be meaningful but that they were meant. It is no accident that an Athenian potter named his potter-to-be son ‘Good with His Hands’ (Eucheir), or that ‘He Who Loves Horses’ named a daughter ‘Thessalian Victory’ (Thessalonike), and there is some evidence for political sloganeering in the use ...

What are we telling the nation?

David Edgar: Thoughts about the BBC, 7 July 2005

Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC 
by Georgina Born.
Vintage, 352 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 0 09 942893 8
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Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World 
BBC, 135 pp.Show More
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... space, not just for Edge of Darkness, but for Alan Bleasdale’s Boys from the Blackstuff (1981), Dennis Potter’s sexually provocative and formally challenging Singing Detective (1986) and Richard Eyre’s film of Charles Wood’s anti-Falklands Tumbledown (1988). When a newly aggressive ITV, freed from its franchise limitations by the 1990 ...

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