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Sextet, The: Follow The Yellow Brick Road (BBC-2 1972, Denholm Elliott, Dennis Waterman)

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Similar in tone to Moonlight on the Highway, Follow The Yellow Brick Road sees Jack Black (the name apparently taken from the character in Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood) convincing himself that he is in the middle of a TV Play. He is a jobbing actor and ends up seeing a psychiatrist to try and get to the root of his problem.

The central message is seemingly a spiritual one, Jack has lost his faith, the psychiatrist remarks that his condition is not that unusual “after all many people believe God writes the script”.

Broadcast as part of The Sextet, six one of plays, Follow The Yellow Brick Road is quintessential Dennis Potter that carries echoes both past and future and at the time was easily his most personal work to date. There are nods to his love for vintage popular music both in the title and on the soundtrack.

There are also pokes at commercial television with Jack caught up in appearing in tv commercials, including one for Waggytail Din Din dog food!

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In later years Potter admitted that he didn’t think much of the play but it actually stands up well and definitely fits into the cycle of plays he was producing at the time.

production details
UK / BBC Two / 1×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 4 July 1972

Writer: Dennis Potter / Costumes: Ursula Reid / Script Editor: Margaret Hare / Production Design: Spencer Chapman / Producer: Roderick Graham / Director: Alan Bridges

Series: The Sextet / Episode 4 (of 8)

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cast
DENHOLM ELLIOTT as Jack
DENNIS WATERMAN as Dr Bilson
RUTH DUNNING as Old Lady
BERNARD HEPTON as Colin
NICOLETTE PENDRELL as Nurse
MAUREEN NELSON as Staff Nurse
MICHELE DOTRICE as Veronica
BILLIE WHITELAW as Judy


Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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