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.
Archibald Joseph Cronin (1896 - 1981) had studied medicine in Glasgow then practised as a doctor for some years before devoting himself to an extremely successful career as a writer whose works were easily adopted for film and television. The TV series of Dr Finlay's Casebook was set in the late 1920s in the small Scottish town of Tannochbrae (in reality the Perthshire village of Callander) and concerned itself with the ups and downs of the elderly, irascible ex-surgeon Dr Angus Cameron (Andrew Cruickshank) and his young, newly arrived junior, Dr Alan Finlay (Bill Simpson). In the best tradition of most medical dramas at that time conflict arose between the modern ideas of the younger doctor and the accepted practises of the elder, and each believed that he knew best.
In the end, of course, both men learned from each other and solved whatever that week's problem was. If ever they did not see eye-to-eye their no-nonsense housekeeper Janet (Barbara Mullen) soon brought them to task. The series ran for nine years and during that time a number of Scottish character actors stopped at Arden House for their share of medicinal therapy, among them John Laurie, Gordon Jackson and the charismatic figure of James Robertson Justice.
By the 1990s the success on ITV of such rural dramas as The Darling Buds of May and Heartbeat encouraged the company to bring doctor's Cameron and Finlay out of retirement. Named simply Doctor Finlay the new series, starring David Rintoul (Dr Finlay), Ian Bannen (Dr Cameron) and Annette Crosby (Janet), was set in 1946 and joined Finlay on his return to Tannochbrae following his wartime service.
Published on December 8th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.