Obituary: Dennis Potter

MARK LAWSON's obituary of Dennis Potter (8 June) contains an error. Vote Vote Vote for Nigel Barton was not postponed until after the 1964 election, writes Ron Brewer. At that time I was Potter's election agent. He told me during the election that he was writing a play about electioneering. His preface to The Nigel Barton Plays (1967) explains that Vote Vote Vote for Nigel Barton was due for transmission on 23 June 1965 but that it was removed from the schedules just a few hours before it was due to be shown. It was eventually televised on 15 December of that year.

It was shortly after his adoption as Labour candidate for East Hertfordshire that Potter was struck by the illness that was to dog him for the rest of his life. But he never spoke of abandoning his candidature and the fight for Labour in this hopeless seat.

The electors were in for a treat. His election pamphlet was exquisitely written (it is the only one I have kept from more than 30 years of electioneering). His thoughtful speeches sparkled. They were made without notes and, though they lacked rhetorical flourish, caught his audience by their sheer honesty, language and wit. He gave no sign that a few minutes before he entered the hall, he had taken a trip round the back where he could ease the nausea and vomiting caused by his medication.

Potter urged me to watch his play. It was a shock. I knew that writers took much of real life in to their writing and many of the scenes in Vote Vote Vote had a basis in events during two years of campaigning. But I was shaken to see and hear a television character repeating episodes of my life which I must have discussed with Potter. If that were not enough, my sly asides, more joky than cynical, were repeated in the play as a heavy sardonic approach. John Bailey, who took the part of Jack Hay, the election agent, even used my gestures. But I understood that Potter, who had come to hate and dislike the process of seeking out votes, was trying to explain how those who strove for political ideals had somehow to protect themselves by developing a veneer against pain and hurt.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?