Lipstick on Your Collar

Lipstick on Your Collar is a 1993 British television serial written by Dennis Potter, originally broadcast on Channel 4. It is also notable for being Ewan McGregor's first major role.


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. Ewan McGregor plays Mick Hopper, who is doing his national service as an interpreter of Russian documents. Bored with his job, Hopper spends his days creating fantasy daydreams that involve his work colleagues breaking into contemporary hit songs. Louise Germaine plays Sylvia Berry, the blonde wife of the violent Corporal Pete Berry (Douglas Henshall). Sylvia is an object of desire for Mick's fellow clerk Private Francis Francis and a middle-aged pipe-organist named Harold Atterbow (Roy Hudd). Unlike 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.

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

While this piece has the form of a romantic comedy, unlike the less conventional works of Dennis Potter's middle period, it is not without graphic sex and violence, as well as Potter's characteristic flashes of dreamlike imagery. The centrepiece of this production is the surreal musical sequence set to the song In A Persian Market.


Additional information

Lipstick is viewed by some critics as being the final entry in the musical trilogy Potter began with Pennies From Heaven (1978) and The Singing Detective (1986). The serial was the last production of Dennis Potter during his life. He died from cancer in 1994, having written two works which were produced posthumously. The series was nominated in 1994 for two BAFTA-awards, in the categories "Best Makeup" and "Best Music."

The title of the series is actually anachronistic. The plot is set during the Suez Crisis of 1956, but the Connie Francis title track (played during the opening credits) was released in 1959, long after the conflict had ended.


The series contained among others the following music:

External links

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