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There's a lot to like about this series - beautiful Scottish locations and some really great acting from the cast. James Fleet (Vicar of Dibley) is excellent as the hesitant younger brother of pompous doctor, Gregor Fisher. Other guest stars included Sarah Parish from Cutting It and the always excellent Graham Crowden. Maybe a bit too subtle for Sunday afternoons (though still much better than Last of The Summer Wine - which I actually quite enjoy), this was an undemanding funny sitcom from writer, Bernard McKenna (one of Python Graham Chapman's collaborators) - and his comedy pedigree really shines through in some of the more farcical episodes.
After 'Rab C. Nesbitt' ended its eighth ( and what was supposed to be
final ) series on BBC2 in 1999, Gregor Fisher moved on to do 'Brotherly
Love' - a now forgotten sitcom made by BBC Scotland which cast him as
Hector Robertson, the pompous G.P of the fictional Scottish village of
Invercorrie. At the time of its showing, I held a very negative opinion
of the programme as to me it felt like a poor substitute for 'Rab C.'.
Having re-watched it recently, I feel I was unduly harsh towards the
show and can now watch it and raise a chuckle without feeling even the
slightest bit guilty. 'Brotherly Love' began life as a pilot in which
Hector Robertson met up with his estranged brother Frank ( Tom Mannion
) at the funeral of their Uncle Archie. Throughout their lives, Frank
and Hector have endured a love/hate relationship, mainly due to a crush
they once had on beautiful local artist Kate Cameron ( played by the
sexy Caroline Langrishe ) who was once their childhood friend.
The series ( which arrived the year after the pilot ) sees Frank ( now played by James Fleet, fresh from 'The Vicar Of Dibley' ) reluctantly moving in with bachelor Hector and opening up the pub as 'Robertson's Bar', where he takes on Kate as a barmaid. The pub's first day is not a success as Hector chases away most of its first customers who turn out to be his patients by chastising them for how many units of alcohol they are drinking, how many cigarettes they are smoking etc. Hector's arrogant and sometimes thoughtless nature tends to land himself and Frank in trouble, which then leads to friction between the two brothers. However, realising they don't really have anyone else, the two brothers do their best to make the most of a bad situation.
Also involved with Frank and Hector's affairs are Hector's hard faced receptionist Miss. Grogan ( June Watson ) and useless secretary Angie McPhee ( Jody McMillan ), the dull Reverend McDonald ( Ralph Riach ) and incompetent handyman Billy Bolster ( the late Tom Watson ).
As I recall, 'Brotherly Love' went out on Sunday evenings at 7:30 P.M ( a slot usually reserved for 'Last Of The Summer Wine' ), where it was unjustly ignored. While Bernard McKenna's scripts were hardly comedy classics, I must admit he did come up with some good lines, such as a furious Hector finding out his brother has been taking baths in the evenings rather than a more cost-economical shower - ''I'm surprised the electric meter is still attached to the wall the way it whizzes around every time you take a bath!''. Caroline Langrishe is simply delightful as Kate and her involvement in Frank and Hector's misdemeanours were often the best part of the show. James Fleet is also excellent as the put upon Frank and the chemistry between him and the always reliable Gregor Fisher was marvellous. Tom Watson got many laughs as the cack handed Billy. The late Graham Crowden had a memorable guest role in one episode as a rich lord who tried to coerce an unwilling Hector into marrying his plain daughter.
A couple of years later, Gregor was given the lead role in another sitcom for BBC Scotland - the unsuccessful ( though which I liked at the time ) 'Snoddy', in which he was a Golf obsessed police inspector. As I have pretty much covered earlier in this review, 'Brotherly Love' is one of those shows that manages to pull of the trick of being pleasantly amusing without being particularly funny. At present it is not available on DVD. If it were to come out, I would buy it, even if it were only to marvel at Gregor Fisher's wonderful acting ability.
Can anyone let me know where I can get copies of this series? I have an old customer who would love to watch the whole series again - only for the love of the scenery! I have tried a web search for it and there was a website that said it had the copies available for download. However, they wanted my credit card details and it looked dodgy to say the least. From what I also found, USA did run the series but I missed that as well. Also tried calling BBC but there is no option to request for copies (and pay for them) in their options. The lady on the phone was helpful - she gave me the phone number of the National Film Archives. Just tried the number - it is a dud. Small wonder - there are a lot of out of date people out there :(
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