Lipstick on Your Collar (TV series)

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Lipstick on Your Collar is a 1993 British television serial written by Dennis Potter. It was first broadcast on Channel 4 in February and March 1993. Expanded from Potter's earlier television play Lay Down Your Arms (1970), it features Ewan McGregor in his first major role.

Lipstick on Your Collar
Lipstick on Your Collar (TV series).jpg
DVD cover
Created byDennis Potter
Written byDennis Potter
Directed byRenny Rye
Opening theme"Lipstick on Your Collar"
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes6
Executive producerKenith Trodd
ProducerDennis Potter
CinematographySean Van Hales
EditorClare Douglas
Running time60 minutes
Original networkChannel 4
Original release21 February –

28 March 1993
Related showsPennies From Heaven (1978)
The Singing Detective (1986)


The main story is set in a British Military Intelligence Office in Whitehall during 1956, where a small group of foreign affairs analysts find their quiet existence disrupted by the Suez Crisis. Mick Hopper (Ewan McGregor) is completing his national service as an interpreter of Russian documents. Bored with his job, Hopper spends his days creating fantasy daydreams that involve his colleagues breaking into contemporary hit songs. Sylvia Berry (Louise Germaine) is married to the violent Corporal Pete Berry (Douglas Henshall). Sylvia is an object of desire for Mick's fellow clerk Private Francis Francis (Giles Thomas) and a middle-aged theatre organist named Harold Atterbow (Roy Hudd). In contrast to the street-wise Hopper, Francis is a clumsy Welsh intellectual whose academic career has been interrupted by his army call up. The appearance of the bookish niece of a seconded American officer enables the two conscripts to pair off with suitable partners, after initial mismatching.

The main theme of the series is conflict between the old order, as represented by the middle-aged officers in Whitehall plus Francis' prudish Uncle Fred and Aunt Vickie, and the new 'rock n roll' generation represented by Hopper and Sylvia. Though chronologically the series is set in the late summer and autumn of 1956 culminating in the invasion of Suez, many of the songs used, including the title song, were not released until later in the 1950s.

Some of the side themes include the influence of American rock and roll on British society, the gulf between the senior analysts, who are regular army officers, and the conscripted other ranks, the work of Russian playwright Chekhov, and an appreciation of opulent theatre organs. The unusual context – a military culture transplanted into a civil service style office environment – reflects Potter's own national service during the 1950s.


Additional informationEdit

Lipstick on Your Collar is an expansion of the earlier play Lay Down Your Arms (1970).[1] Some critics view it as being the final entry in the musical trilogy Potter began with Pennies From Heaven (1978) and The Singing Detective (1986). This was the final serial produced during Dennis Potter's lifetime and was nominated in 1994 for two BAFTA-awards, in the categories "Best Makeup" and "Best Music".


The series contained among others the following music:


  1. ^ Lay Down Your Arms, Official Dennis Potter website, York St John University

External linksEdit