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As Christmas is all about television, a Dennis Potter season will be true to it. The man embodied television

By Andrew Billen   January 2005

An unexpectedly affecting moment in BBC2’s forthcoming documentary on Dennis Potter comes when we hear how the dramatist hit upon the idea of having actors mime to records of popular songs. Painting the Clouds with Sunshine, the documentary’s title, is taken from the song ventriloquised by Bob Hoskins’s music salesman in Potter’s 1978 masterpiece Pennies from Heaven. It was also, it turns out, the favourite lyric of Potter’s father, a Forest of Dean mineworker. But Potter senior was a terrible singer. We can imagine his son in his moment of inspiration in front of his shaving mirror, opening and closing…

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