It was a Friday, May 17th 1935, when Dennis Christopher George Potter was born in the small hamlet of Joyford, just stone's throw from the larger neighbouring village of Berry Hill itself a mile and half from the small market town of Coleford. Potter's family were living with his father Walt's parents, and it's on the outside of this house, today called Holmdale, that the plaque has been erected. So cramped was accommodation in 1935 Dennis' mother Margaret gave birth next door at Brick House. As the young Dennis grew up he played in the woods and fields near by; walked up the lane to Christchurch School; and attended the local chapel. Later he gained entry to Bell's Grammar School in Coleford. He would finish his schooling in London, before completing National Service, and then a degree at Oxford. He become a BBC trainee, journalist, stood for Parliament, and then...became one of the most influential television dramatists of his time, a producer, screenwriter, commentator. Throughout all of this time the Forest of Dean remained crucial to him both personally and creatively. He would return to it again and again in his work - in print and on TV. Despite the demands of work being centred on London he would return frequently to see his parents, family, friends, visit 'The Club'. In 1966 he returned with is wife and young family to live in the Forest, at Lydney, before finally settling in near by Ross-On-Wye where he would live for the rest of his life. Potter's relationship to the Forest - in the Forest of Dean - has perhaps too often been portrayed as 'problematic'. Certainly his unflinching honesty regarding both its problems and his sometimes complex feelings towards it did not endear him to everyone in the area. From his first appearance on television (as an Oxford Undergraduate) to his documentary Between Two Rivers (1960), and his dramas that featured the Forest, it could be guaranteed that a slew of letters would arrive at the local Forest of Dean newspapers, many criticising his work. But as many would be written in his defence and in praise of his latest television outing. In his early career he engaged with his local critics, often corresponding with the local paper in response to specific letters, often with some whit. The Forest of Dean remained an important part of Dennis Potter his whole life, and in recent years his importance to the Forest of Dean has begun to be properly, publicly, recognised. In 2004 there was a week-long festival in his honour; there have been other events; two fine public artworks have been created; and the Dennis Potter Archive & Exhibition has been established at The Dean Heritage Centre. and now, this Blue Plaque irrevocably marks, in perhaps the simplest yet most widely recognised and easily understood way, the link between the Forest and one of its finest ever creative minds.
The plaque has been erected by the Foresters Forest Landscape Partnership, funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Other Blue Plaques are to follow, as well as the project's own Green Plaques marking individuals who though of less national importance are of considerable local significance.