Dr. Simon Sparrow (Dirk Bogarde) graduates and sets out into the world. Hilarious internships with a miserly doctor and his young wife, a country doctor paid in kind not cash, and a quack ...
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Dr. Simon Sparrow (Dirk Bogarde) graduates and sets out into the world. Hilarious internships with a miserly doctor and his young wife, a country doctor paid in kind not cash, and a quack specializing in rich neurotic women. He applies for a surgery position at a hospital, insults the senior surgeon, then rescues one of the hospital's Governors and finally gets his place on the staff.Written by
Derek Picken <email@example.com>
'At large' turns out to be a polite term for 'out of work' - but never for long, in the orderly Fifties, when there would always be another job just round the corner. This makes a good basis for a picaresque tour of medical surgeries from the highest to the humblest, as the Dirk Bogarde character is repeatedly told to take his talents elsewhere.
It comes at the cost of a steady, developing narrative, but it provides opportunities for an exceptionally large cast of popular performers. Donald Sinden gets plenty of exposure as an old-style moustachioed seducer, Michael Medwin as the governor's blue-eyed boy, Shirley Eaton as every man's fantasy of a blonde nurse, Dandy Nichols as the nuisance patient who just wants yet another repeat prescription. A most watchable duo are Lionel Jeffries as the weird-looking head of a run-down surgery in the North, and his playful blonde wife acted by Dilys Laye - the only time I've seen her outside the Carry Ons, where she's always made-up to look goofy, but genuinely glamorous here. James Robertson Justice simply acts himself, though that quarterdeck roar is a bit too Fifties to stomach now. And I can't think why they wheeled-on the eccentric Edwardian leftover A.E. Matthews, whose talent never seemed to me to compensate for the trouble he always caused on-set. But if you know who to look out for, you may catch the author of the Doctor books, Richard Gordon, doing his few seconds' walk-on, à la Hitchcock.
This is not rated as the best of the series, the dialogue being pretty clichéd, and the comic sub-plots mostly silly (especially the piece of business over a rich patient leaving her fortune to the Donald Sinden character), and we now know that Bogarde was getting bored with just doing his matinee-idol every time. But his career was just about to take some interesting turns...
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