1 9 8 9 (UK)
4 x 50 minute episodes
Dennis Potter is arguably the most important creative figure in the history of British television. From 1965 until his death in 1994, he constructed a personal work of such depth and consistency that it will probably never be equalled in the medium.
The most prolific yet also most controversial of television playwrights, he remains the undisputed figurehead of that peculiarly British phenomenon of writers who make it their passion to show that television can be just as powerful a vehicle for artistic expression as cinema or theatre.
In 1989, after a falling out with his erstwhile producer Kenith Trodd, Potter decided to direct a television adaptation of his “feminist” novel, Blackeyes.
The result was a critical bloodbath in the United Kingdom, with the director accused of precisely the misogyny and sexploitation he claimed he had been trying to expose on screen.
Blackeyes was the story of former model Jessica (Carol Royle) who angrily discovered that her 77-year-old Uncle Maurice (Michael Gough) had written a successful sexy novel about a beautiful young model named ‘Blackeyes’ (Gina Bellman) which was based on her own real-life modelling experiences.
Jessica desperately wanted to rewrite the tale more truthfully but lacked the required skill.
Immersed in a typically Potter-esque amalgam of reality and fiction, slimy advertising men like Stilk (Nicholas Woodeson) and the seemingly decent observer, Jeff (Nigel Planer), played their parts in showing how young girls can become abused in the glamour industry.
Potter also directed the four episodes and provided the copious narration in his unmistakable West Country burr.
Maurice James Kingsley