A Matter of Principle

A Matter of Principle

1962 - United Kingdom

Should a doctor tell his patients the truth - whatever the cost? Harry Branksome, brilliant surgeon, is dedicated to the truth, no matter whom it hurts. 

Surgeon Harry Branksome is a bore. He has stripped himself of all emotion, all kindnesses. He treats both patients and colleagues with either brutal indifference or savage rudeness. This is the way he has chosen to live. The way that helps him bear the heavy responsibility of having men's lives in his hands. 

A superb technician at the operating table, he has become unfeeling, ill-mannered and unsympathetic in all his personal relationships. The key to A Matter of Principle is whether or not Branksome's brilliance as a surgeon will continue to outweigh his deficiencies as a human being, and whether or not he can survive the political intrigues at the large London teaching hospital where he works without a radical alteration to his approach. 

Branksome's character was quite a problem for Charles Gray, who played the part. "I started off rehearsals by trying to give Branksome a bit of charm, in spite of the way he behaved. But that made it difficult for everyone to say what a pig he was - and tended to slow up the pace. So I decided to act him as the boor he undoubtedly is." 

In the even more thankless part of the rather pathetic woman who loves Branksome was Pamela Brown. "It's not the sort of part I'd want to do on stage," she told TV Times. "But on television there is more opportunity to register emotions in close-up." 

A Matter of Principle was adapted for television by John Clark from the book 'A Lady's Hand' by Edward Candy. Candy was the pen-name for Mrs B. A. Neville, herself a doctor. "I picked the pen-name because I started writing detective stories and felt a man's name more suitable," she said. "I didn't want to be thought of as a writer of women's books. The play is a story about people who could be in any profession. I set it in a teaching hospital because I was trained in one and knew I wouldn't make mistakes in the detail." 

An ATV Network Production by H. M. Tennent shown in the Play of the Week strand at 9:15 - 10:40pm on Tuesday September 11th 1962.   

Published on April 3rd, 2020. Written by Based on original TV Times article and adapted for Television Heaven.

Read Next...

Dr Finlay's Casebook

Based on a series of stories 'The Adventures of a Black Bag' by Dumbartonshire born novelist A. J. Cronin, Doctor Finlay's Casebook proved to be an instant hit with viewers in spite of stiff competition from US exports Dr Kildare and Ben Casey.

Also released in 1962

All Summer Long

Willie has tried to make his father aware of the danger to their house from flood water, but Dad thinks that Willie's fears are excessive. Willie decides to spend all summer long building a wall to keep out the river, but his efforts are in vain.

Also tagged Single Drama

Already It's Tomorrow

After a road accident, an attractive girl recovers consciousness in a strange room. With her is a young man she has never seen before.

Also released in 1962

Albert TV play

Single play based on a true story about an ingenious and daring escape from a German POW camp for Allied naval officers during WW2

Also tagged Single Drama

Another Saturday Night and Sweet FA

Every weekend, long-suffering referee Mr. Armistead wades into the melee to try to teach two sets of testosterone-fuelled maniacs the value of restraint, justice and fair play.

Also tagged Single Drama

The Offshore Island

Post-apocalyptic drama - one of the first TV plays on a politically sensitive topic, about the survivors of a nuclear attack on the British isles.

Also tagged Single Drama


An expensive investigative agency operating in San Francisco protects the lives of people who had become targets of the criminal underworld.

Also released in 1962

Dumb Martian

Earthman Duncan Weaver on a solo tour of duty on one of Jupiter's moons buys a Martian woman as a companion. He mistreats her, assuming her to be just a "dumb Martian." He learns, to his cost, that she has more intelligence than he gives her credit for.

Also tagged Single Drama

The War Game

A Chinese invasion of South Vietnam triggers a new world war between East and West. In the town of Rochester, Kent, the anticipation of a nuclear attack leads to mass evacuations. This one-off drama proved to be so controversial that the BBC, who made it, refused to broadcast it for 20 years.

Also tagged Single Drama