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High brow, low retention

The cultural establishment claims that demanding television programmes draw smaller but more committed audiences. New research suggests that this is wishful thinking. Harold Lind sees no escape from cultural elitism

By Harold Lind   July 1996

I knew Dennis Potter slightly at university and was never in the slightest doubt that he was a person of extraordinary talent, so great that it could reasonably be described as genius. Thus far, I align myself with our cultural establishment. But we part company in our view of the nature of that genius. The establishment view is that it was manifested in Potter’s social and political thinking, even more in his writing. When I knew him, I regarded Potter’s thinking as typical of the confused soft left, and his writing as producing adequate but not exceptional journalism. His real…

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