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Dennis Potter's ‘A Beast with Two Backs’, is back!

The University of Warwick and the University of Gloucestershire are working together to put on the first regional theatrical screening of playwright Dennis Potter’s ‘A Beast with Two Backs’ which is taking place in the Forest of Dean.

Part of the BBC's celebrated Wednesday Play series of the 1960s, this early work by Potter is set in Lydbrook, near Potter's home town, an isolated Forest of Dean community in 19th Century Britain.

Dennis Potter, who was one of Britain's greatest playwrights, died in 1994 at the age of 59. He wrote 28 plays including The Singing Detective, Pennies From Heaven, Brimstone and Treacle and Lipstick on Your Collar.

The partnership between the University of Warwick and the University of Gloucestershire, with the support of the British Film Institute, the Forest of Dean Local History Society, and the Dean Heritage Centre will see Dennis Potter’s ‘A Beast with Two Backs’ rediscovered.

In 1968 a forest village became a movie set as actors, directors, cameras, costumes and a bear congregated to capture Potters play on film. They spent a week there making Potter's Wednesday Play, ‘A Beast with Two Backs’. Using local school children and adults as extras, with the local pub standing in as hair and make-up headquarters, on-location filming took place in the village and surrounding area.

The play is a fictional account drawing on an event that happened in the Forest of Dean in the 1890s when four Frenchmen came with dancing bears, who were subsequently killed by miners coming off the late shift in retaliation for a rumoured attack on a young local girl.

Now, nearly 50 years after broadcast, the play is returning for a day of recollection, talks, exhibition, and the first ever theatrical screening of the play itself. You can take part in this free event from 10.30am on Saturday 18th July, at Lydbrook Memorial Hall, Lydbrook, Gloucestershire, GL17 9PP.

Marcus Prince, TV Programmer, of the British Film Institute (BFI) said: "The BFI is proud to be working with the University of Warwick, the University of Gloucestershire and the Potter in Place initiative to facilitate the screening of A Beast with Two Backs, a play so firmly rooted in Potter’s home community of the Forest of Dean."

The exclusive screening forms part of an ‘impact’ project by Dr Joanne Garde-Hansen, Associate Professor in Culture, Media and Communication, in collaboration with Jason Griffiths and Hannah Grist at the University of Gloucestershire which seeks to bring a rarely seen television play to an audience that remembers the value of television for their community.

Joanne Garde-Hansen has said of the project: “The impact of bringing Potter's work back to the Forest lies in understanding how the cultural memory of television is connected to a particular site and region. The dialogue and memories generated from the viewing will also offer valuable insights into the legacy of past television for a sense of identity and community.”


PR146 8 July 2015

For further details please contact Alex Buxton, Communications Manager, University of Warwick at or on 02476 150423 / 07876 218166.

or visit:

Alex Buxton

Communications Manager, University of Warwick

Tel: +44 (0)2476 150423

Mob: +44 (0)7876 218166