music, The Singing Detective and 405 music. now Dennis is turning to 50s music.’

The connections end there though. Anyone anticipating the Potter trademarks of greased limbs and intertwining body parts will be switching back to their Red Hot Dutch satellite channels pretty swiftly. ‘This will be quite I different in its appeal.’ says Whitman. ‘and quite contrasting in style. It has a whole new

‘Anyone anticipating the Potter trademarks of greased limbs and intertwining body parts will be switching back to their Red Hot Dutch satellite channels pretty swiftly.’

atmosphere and feel to it. There isn’t anything more controversial than anything you would see in any drama currently being made.’

The words Potter and romantic comedy make for an uneasy three-in-a-bed romp given his past. but that’s what Lipstick On Your Collar essentially is. Set in 1956. in the summer of Suez. it follows the lives of four young people led by the Americanophile Mick Hopper. a rock ’n’ roll digging dude played by Scottish newcomer Ewan McGregor.

‘Fundamentally it’s about a changing world in post-war Britain.’ says Whitman. ‘The old world’s on its way out and a new one’s coming in. symbolised by rock ’n’ roll music. The young characters represent this new world. The two boys work in the War Office during their National Service and their senior officers are of a different class and a different age. All the music comes out of the character Mick Hopper and he’s just a young man who’s mad about music and mad about girls. If he’s bored or pissed off in the office he just dreams up a song. He has fun with his superior officers by making them perform the songs. You have these stiff dotty British army officers lip- synching to rock and roll numbers.‘

Well, it’s not Happy Days. but there are still

plenty of potential pitfalls in setting a series in I that done-to-death decade. As Head Over Heels proved. it’s easy to slip into a TV and film-derived image of the 50s, all Cadillacs. classic Coke bottles and leather jackets. that bears little resemblance to the real thing. Whitman stresses the care they took to avoid a self-consciously period feel.

‘Dennis was absolutely insistent right from the beginning that there was nothing period about it in its feeling. The characters’ present was 1956. and it has to appear as their present on the screen. There’s no moody antique lighting. it’s all very bright. We’ve been quite original about that. as most people who make period programmes all have this sort of dingy old feel about them. Lipstick doesn’t. It’s very very bright and the skies beyond the War Office windows are this glorious Technicolour blue. and all the colours are very very vibrant throughout, which makes it really, very


Like Pennies From Heaven and The Singing Detective. Lipstick On Your Collar has more


than a sprinkling of the autobiographical. Potter worked in a desk job during his National Service in the Suez Crisis summer of I956. and you get the impression he rather enjoyed it. This is easily his most optimistic work to date. ‘It’s very upbeat. very accessible, very young. 'very colourful.’ says Whitman. ‘And there’s so much comedy. He’s such a clever writer that there’s always such humour in what he writes, ;even when it’s quite a serious scene.’

2 Good clean mainstream fun for all the family? Well Potter is always going to be more .complex than that. but Lipstick On Your Collar 7is the closest he’s come to populism. “Everyone iwho’s seen it is absolutely thrilled by it,‘ says 'Whitman. Certainly Channel 4 chief Michael fiGrade was chewing on his cigar in a iparticularly contented fashion when the series iwas unveiled at the launch of the new season. And he knows a thing or two about crowd-

fLipstick On Your Collar starts on Channel 4 on {2/ February at 9pm.

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The List 12—25 Fcbruary 155315