Dennis Potter’s ‘Lipstick On Your Collar’ DVD review

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Ever wanted to watch Ewan McGregor lip-sync through 1950’s classics over a 6 hour marathon? Well soldier, this is the show for you.

The last project that Dennis Potter saw to completion within his lifetime before the posthumous glory of Karaoke and Cold Lazarus, 1993’s Lipstick On Your Collar is a typically strong offering from one of Britain’s last great television writers. What could easily be seen as a companion piece to Pennies From Heaven (and by extension The Singing Detective) sees all of the familiar tropes of Potter’s work at the forefront of this (perhaps overlong) offering.

Fresh from the BBC drama The Scarlet And The Black, Ewan McGregor makes for a very passable lead in a strong ensemble as Private Mick Hopper, a young dreamer who is spending his last months of National Service in The War Office where his life is made a living hell by a passing collection of dignitaries, rank and file officers and pencil-pushers who are only interested in exerting their authority on those left at home; especially Hopper whose most taxing job seems to be making the tea.

Hopper is a mentor to timid Private Francis Francis (Giles Thomas), a hapless Welshman, obsessed with local beauty Sylvia (Louise Germaine, a glamour model who at times outshines the “names”), the wife of one of their workmates who is also plagued by the attentions of lecherous cinema organist Harold Atterbow (Potter regular Roy Hudd).

Renny Rye, Potter’s most common collaborator, once again creates a gorgeous 50’s dreamscape where characters burst into song and lip-sync classics of the time with alarming regularity, but manages to elevate each moment of magic realism into a believably candy-coated reverie.

Released on DVD on 4th October 2010 by Acorn Media.