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I had the good luck to see a number of episodes of this series when it aired on the CBC as a summer replacement when I first moved to Canada. It jumped out at me, as being so superior to any drama series that I had ever seen on American television at the time. The series featured a very slim cast of an elderly doctor, his young partner, the landlady in their house/surgery, and the outsider whose medical condition was the subject of that particular drama. Not unlike "All Creatures Great and Small", with a smaller, interior budget, and more articulate patients. Or, at least, as articulate as rural Scots are likely to be to the North American ear.
I first saw this when I was a trainee nurse in Timaru Public Hospital in the 60s.I think I learned more watching the series than I did in the class room!There was a particularly memorable episode in which Dr Cameron is poisoned from mouldy Rye and hallucinates.The three principal actors are consistently brilliant and the memory of this series is so strong that I have been unable to watch the remake.If you can get to see any episodes don't miss them! The tension between Cameron and Findlay over the emerging new science of Psychiatry is wonderful, as the series is set before and then during WW2. The title music and the accents and voices of the principals are firmly in my memory although I have not see an episode for 30yrs.This is classic BBc and as relevant today as it was 40yrs ago.
I am glad that this site has been updated since I last looked in - when
Effie Morrison was only credited with 4 episodes!!! Now it is up to a
more realistic 38! The lack of content until recently explains why
there are so few comments on this popular and long lived series.
I am too young to remember many of the episodes well - so any reminders would be most welcome! However I did grow up near to where the original writer, A J Cronin, grew up and the production team did a very good job in creating the right ambiance. It is recommended that anyone read up on A J Cronin in order to understand what his stories are based on. He first wrote "Country Doctor" in 1935 and followed by "Adventures of a Black Bag" and "Further Adventures of a Black Bag" on which the Dr Finlay is based - as well as a string of Oscar nominations from his "Citadel" and "The Stars Looked Down". Noel Coward also relied on him for the medical specialities of the doctor in "Brief Encounter".
A lot of the "human interest" of his stories would have come not just from his own experiences but also those of his paternal grandparents, who ran a pub in the district, and from his mother - who was Scotland's first female public health inspector!
Although he practised medicine in South Wales, when he qualified as a doctor from Glasgow, Dr Finlay is definitely set in his home district on the River Leven, which leaves Loch Lomond and ends up going into the River Clyde after a 6 mile run and a 25 foot drop. Unfortunately some industry was attracted to the limited power of the river - leaving few postcard opportunities in the towns for the TV crews!
The first 6 episodes were filmed on the edge of Glasgow at Milngavie's Tannoch Loch and on Tannoch Drive (A J Cronin's choice of name for the town was "Levenford" not "Tannochbrae") On such details does destiny spin! Once the BBC knew that it could pull in an audience it upped the budget and spent enough money to film in somewhere pretty. In fact the views from Callander to the surrounding hills are much of a muchness with those that A J Cronin saw from his hometown - but the towns are chalk and cheese! Viewers escapism won out! (Probably just as well!)
For all those 40+ who lived in the UK in the 1960's, this series will be remembered. Much better than the re-make of the 1990's. Release on DVD? - probably not, but oh what a shame. Dr Finlay, Dr Cameron and Janet the housekeeper - with other characters such as Dr Snoddie. Just to hear the signature tune brings back happy memories of a time where there were better values than we experience in society today. One can view episodes of this series on YouTube. The Scottish accents may make some ex pats home sick - but what's wrong with that? Andrew Cruikshank, who played Dr Cameron appeared in several films during that era - including Miss Marple "Murder She Said" - alongside another good actor - Margaret Rutherford.
I don't think I will ever forget Janet's sweet voice as she answered
the telephone, 'Arden Hoos". Not to mention the theme music. Great
scripts and superb acting from the three main players.
I agree that for those of us with such fond memories of the original, the more recent remake was unwatchable. Much as I admire Ian Bannen, he could not compare with Andrew Cruikschank in the role of Dr. Cameron.
What is wrong with the BBC that, firstly, they didn't take care of the original tapes, and secondly, they don't allow us to see the rest by releasing them on DVD? Thank you, whoever suggested youtube--I'm on my way there now!
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