Pennies from Heaven (TV series)  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Shop


Featured:

Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Enlarge
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Pennies From Heaven is a 1978 BBC musical drama serial written by Dennis Potter. The title is taken from the song "Pennies from Heaven" written by Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston. It was one of several Potter serials (another being The Singing Detective) to mix the reality of the drama with a dark fantasy content, and the earliest of his works where the characters burst into extended performances of popular songs.

Synopsis

"Part 1 Down Sunnyside Lane"

In the mid-1930s, Arthur and Joan Parker (Bob Hoskins and Gemma Craven) are an incompatible married couple living in the London suburbs. Arthur, a travelling sheet music salesman, is a passionate man who is frustrated by his wife's repressed nature. On a car journey to the Gloucester area he picks up 'the accordion man', a vagrant (Kenneth Colley) who invariably busks on the instrument in the vicinity of the other characters, but the signs of the man's mental illness soon lead Arthur to reject him after they spend several hours together. While trying to persuade a shopkeeper (Arnold Peters) to take some of his goods, Arthur notices a female customer with whom he immediately becomes besotted. Arthur and 'the accordion man' both manage to frighten the young woman. Before returning to London, Arthur has sex with Marjorie, a Gloucestershire prostitute (Rosemary Martin) in the back of his car.

"Part 2 The Sweetest Thing"

Arthur's bank manager (Peter Cellier) refuses to give him a loan. Eileen Everson (Cheryl Campbell), the woman he encountered, is a junior school teacher in the Forest of Dean who lives with her widowed coal mining father and two brothers, also miners. Meanwhile, Arthur has returned to the area to trace the woman he is obsessed with. He finally encounters Eileen in a wood near the Eversons' cottage, and returns to their home where Arthur claims his wife has died in a motorcycle accident. He and Eileen eventually make love after the rest of the household have gone to bed.

"Part 3 Easy Come, Easy Go"

The Parkers' marriage briefly revives after Joan smears lipstick on her nipples, and appears to respond to some of her husband's sexual fantasies. Joan is persuaded to use her inheritance to finance Arthur's desire to open a record shop. Meanwhile, Eileen has discovered she is pregnant and is forced to give up her job. After unexpectedly meeting a young blind girl (Yolande Palfrey) in a field, whom he lusts after under his breath, Arthur reappears at the Everson family home, and his relationship with Eileen revives. The blind girl is raped and murdered, for which Arthur is arrested, but soon released. Eileen moves to London, and loses contact with Arthur again.

"Part 4 Better Think Twice"

Almost destitute, Eileen eats little and is in arrears for her cheap hotel room. She meets the superficially sympathetic Tom (Hywel Bennett), a wealthy man with no obvious occupation, and becomes dependent upon him. Arthur opens his new record shop, but he has very few customers, an exception being Tom. The two men get along very well, and Arthur delivers some records to the apartment where Eileen is recovering from an (illegal) abortion paid for by Tom, but the couple are not reunited. Arthur later glimpses Eileen in the pub where she had met Tom, and they leave for the record shop. Unaware of Arthur's connection to Tom, Eileen explains that the man who paid for her abortion now has a hold over her, and he intends to be her pimp. The couple decide they have to escape from London, and shatter Arthur's stock of fragile shellac discs.

"Part 5 Painting the Clouds"

A police inspector (Dave King) visits Joan after Arthur's unexplained disappearance and the destruction of his retail stock. Her comments about Arthur's sexual tastes, particularly his wish for his wife to move around the house without wearing her knickers, lead the police to make a connection with the murder of the blind girl whose undergarment had been removed. 'The accordion man' is haunted by her image and his responsibility for the murder. (It is clear he is not delusional over this event.) He is disorientated when running into Eileen while she is street walking; the dead girl bears a resemblance to her. Arthur is now living off Eileen's immoral earnings, and she is a client of a Conservative MP, Major Archibald Paxville (Ronald Fraser), who she unsuccessfully attempts to blackmail. 'The accordion man' commits suicide, probably by throwing himself off Hammersmith Bridge (which also features ominously in The Singing Detective), and his corpse is discovered. Arthur and Eileen's false optimism for the future is dashed when they see a newspaper headline indicating he is wanted for murder.

"Part 6 Says My Heart"

Arthur and Eileen are on the run. They spend the night in a barn, but Eileen's attempt to find help eventually leads her to shoot dead a lonely and deranged farmer (Philip Locke). They feed and clean themselves in his farmhouse, and scavenge through the man's possessions for money and things they can sell. Leaving the farm Arthur stops, thinking he has seen 'the accordion man', but cannot restart their stolen car. Passing police take the couple in for questioning, and Arthur is charged with the murder of the blind girl. In the crown court inconsistencies in Arthur's various accounts, and a witness unwittingly confusing Arthur's fixation on Eileen for an obsession with the blind girl lead to his conviction and execution. After Eileen notes the time set for his hanging has passed, Arthur reappears and a happy ending is announced by the two characters.

It should be noted that Arthur displays the character of an unreliable narrator and may in reality be a mass kidnapper and murderer who hallucinates people to offload the blame for his crimes.

See also

  • Al Bowlly, song composer used extensively throughout the series




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pennies from Heaven (TV series)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools