Cold Lazarus

Cold Lazarus is a four-part British television drama written by Dennis Potter with the knowledge that he was dying of cancer of the pancreas.[1][2]

Cold Lazarus
Created byDennis Potter
StarringAlbert Finney
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes4
Producer(s)Kenith Trodd
Editor(s)Clare Douglas
Running time60 minutes
Original networkChannel 4
Original release1996

It forms the second half of a pair with the television serial Karaoke. The two serials were filmed as a single production by the same team; both were directed by Renny Rye and feature Albert Finney as the writer Daniel Feeld. The plays were unique in being co-productions between the BBC and Channel 4, something Potter had expressly requested before his death. The show was first aired on Channel 4 in 1996 on Sunday evenings, with a repeat on BBC1 the following day.

Parts of Karaoke and Cold Lazarus were filmed in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, which is where Dennis Potter was born and raised, and children from local schools including St. Briavels Parochial Primary School appeared in the film as extras in flashbacks.

As a result of the BBC and Channel 4 collaboration on these works, the copyright and further usage rights have remained unclear for years.[citation needed] However, both are available to watch online via the Channel 4 website, and Virgin Media's on demand service. Both Karaoke and Cold Lazarus were released on DVD from Acorn Media in September 2010.[3]


Cold Lazarus is set in the 24th century, in a dystopian Britain where the ruined streets are unsafe, and where society is run by American oligarchs in charge of powerful commercial corporations. Experiences are almost all virtual, and anything deemed authentic (such as coffee and cigarettes) has either been banned or replaced by synthetic substitutes.[4]

At a cryonics research institute in London, funded by the pharmaceuticals tycoon Martina Masdon (played by Diane Ladd), a group of scientists led by Dr. Emma Porlock (Frances de la Tour) is working on reviving the mind of the 20th-century writer Daniel Feeld (Albert Finney), whose head was frozen after Feeld's death shortly after the events of Karaoke. Unable to see any profit in the project, Masdon considers discontinuing it, but the media mogul David Siltz (Henry Goodman), who has been spying on Masdon, envisages making a fortune from broadcasting Feeld's memories on TV, and proposes to Porlock that her team work for him.

Porlock is unaware that a member of her team, Fyodor Glazunov (Ciarán Hinds) is a member of the resistance group RON (‘Reality Or Nothing’), which attempts to undermine the reliance of society upon advanced technology by carrying out violent attacks. Glazunov identifies Kaya, another of Porlock's team, as a potential recruit to his superior Andrew Milton (David Foxxe), but Milton kills Kaya, believing her unsuitable. Angered by Kaya's murder, Glazunov kills Milton. Porlock then discovers the truth about Glazunov but, to distract him from the possibility of killing her, consults with him about the Siltz deal. Glazunov approves of the broadcast of Feeld's memories, which he believes might provoke a revolt against the 'inauthentic' life propagated by the authorities. It is shortly after this that Porlock accepts Siltz's offer, just as Masdon realises the potential of the Lazarus project.

As more of Feeld's thoughts and memories are unearthed, it becomes evident not only that Feeld's mind is conscious of its predicament, but also that Feeld is attempting to communicate with the scientists, and is pleading to be allowed to die. At this point Glazunov, Porlock and Luanda Partington (another long standing member of the team) begin to doubt the morality of their project. Another of their team, Watson, having been coerced into informing on his colleagues, unwittingly denounces Glazunov as a RON member and saboteur. Having been warned, Glazunov heads for the laboratory to put Feeld out of his misery. In the confrontation that ensues, Glazunov is able to kill Siltz, and, after a final communication with Feeld (in which they make eye contact), he destroys the laboratory, Feeld's head, and himself, in the process.


The series also featured an early TV appearance by Rupert Penry-Jones as a militiaman.

Additionally, some of the cast of Karaoke appear in Feeld's flashbacks.


Many of the futuristic costumes made for the actors to wear in Cold Lazarus were later bought by the film company Wibbell Productions and subsequently used in the feature film The Vampires of Bloody Island in 2007.

Wibbell later sold many of them individually to private collectors in 2013.


  1. ^ [1] Archived 8 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Derek Elley (19 June 1996). "Cold Lazarus". Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  3. ^ [2] Archived 11 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "DVD Savant Blu-ray x Review:". 12 September 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2015.

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