This was a remarkable pair of linked TV dramas that were the swansong of playwright Dennis Potter, who wrote them when he was dying of pancreatic cancer. He struggled to get them finished before he passed away, but died before they were televised, leaving an express wish that they be filmed as a co-production between the BBC and Channel 4. Both were directed by Renny Rye.
Both series's were screened in April '96 and both starred Albert Finney as dying screenwriter Daniel Feeld. In 'Karaoke', Feeld discovers to his horror that the subject of the final play he is writing (also called 'Karaoke') is in fact coming true in real life all around him- events seem to happen in reality soon after he completes the latest stage of his work, and even the names of his characters are the same as their apparent counterparts in real life.
'Cold Lazarus' takes up Daniel's fate deep into the future 300 years later, in a dystopian England that makes more than a nod to Pete Townsend's early '70s rock project 'Lifehouse'. The streets of old London are ruined and dangerous, the country is run by ruthless American oligarchs obsessed only with profit, and people live in a world of virtual reality, with all real experiences either illegal or taboo (so nothing's changed much really!)
This unsettling pair of TV dramas represent one of Potter's masterpeices - the brave writer put his all into them before he succumbed to his disease. Both are available on DVD- if you've not seen them yet, and you can cope with the horrible fate of Daniel Feeld in the final parts, then try and watch them. (And why is the Science Centre shaped like toadstools? Maybe because there's not mushroom inside....)