||DR FINLAY'S CASEBOOK
Everyday goings on at a Scottish village practise.
178 episodes of 50 minutes duration. Black and White. 1962-1967.
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 ('Dad's Army') Laurie, Gordon ('Upstairs, Downstairs' / 'The Professionals') 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.
MAKING DR. FINLAY by DAVID NISBET
My parents bought a small hotel in 1962 (I was 4 at the time). The Lake Hotel, which was pretty much a family run business. My grandparents were also involved in the running of this. The hotel was only open during the summer as there was never enough business to justify opening it over the winter.
The BBC started 'Dr Finlay's Casebook' in 1962 and needed a base to work from. Tannochbrae was in fact Callander and The Lake Hotel was isolated and central enough to make it ideal. They used the hotel for many years.
Bill Simpson was married here and bought a house, Tamavoid, nearby.
While the BBC were at the hotel many actors came and stayed for short periods, presumably because they had a part in the program. Andrew Cuickshank, Barbra Mullen (naturally), Marius Goreing, Alexandra Bastedo, James Ellis, Tracy Reid, Anthony Valentine, etc.
My mum always reminds me that I was chased down the corridor by Alexandra Bastedo and I locked myself in my bedroom to avoid her...a mistake I wouldn't make now.
Tracy Reid seemed to be involved with Bill Simpson and I remember her staying at Tamavoid one Xmas. We used to go and hang around there with Tracy's daughter, Lucy. They were always playing 'Oliver!' music at that time...probably because Tracy's dad had something to do with it. Tracy had a part in 'A Shot in the Dark' and a part in one of the big American soaps of the 70s (Dynasty I think).
James Ellis ('Z Cars' and 'All Creatures Great And Small') stayed at the hotel for ages, with his family, and we all played together. My dad had some good 8mm stuff of us five kids, Bill and James playing football. (I also found a picture of James Ellis and his kids on the swing in front of the hotel.) I heard something tragic happened to one of his kids, but don't know anymore.
Andrew Cruickshank mentions the hotel, and my Grandfather, in his book.
Marius Goreing ('The Expert'), dropped in a few years ago to see my parents. Unfortunately, they were out but I had a quick chat with him. He is married to one of the production people from the 'Casebook.'
As the hotel was seasonal, we used to go on the family holiday in the off-season. This usually meant a stop over in London. We used to get free tickets to go and see some of the people my parents knew in plays. One time, we were staying with Mary Miller, and went to see some play that she was in. It was a great insight; we were all in her car as she fought with the traffic round Marble Arch. She then appeared a completely different person on the stage half an hour later. Backstage afterwards, my brother and me were bungled into a dressing room with Robert Morley while Mary got changed.
We also got to see Marius Goreing in 'Sleuth' with somebody else quite well known.
I was also in a couple of episodes of 'Dr Finlay.' One part was running down the hill in front of Bill's house (The Legacy episode). One other part was running out of the way when Dr Finlay's car came flying along the road.
My dad had to do a lot of car driving, but you never saw his face. I remember him taking the car, and us, somewhere and the sound crew passing, stopping and recording the sound of the car passing.
All the outdoor stuff was shot around the Trossachs and the indoor stuff was in a studio in London. There was a noticeable lack of windows in the "doctor's house"
There seemed to be a lot of late night parties. We did have a recording of Bill doing a party piece...a song called A Roman Soldier, a parody on A Scottish Soldier (which was in the charts at the time with Andy Stewart) and made reference to his big nose.
Click HERE to see David Nisbet's exclusive pictures.
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