Dr. Finlay's Casebook (TV & radio)

Dr. Finlay's Casebook (TV & radio)
Doctor Finlay's Casebook
Format Comedy/Drama
Created by A. J. Cronin
Starring Bill Simpson
Andrew Cruickshank
Barbara Mullen
Country of origin  United Kingdom
Language(s) English
No. of episodes 191
Running time 50 min.
Original channel BBC
Original run 16 August 1962 – 3 January 1971

Dr. Finlay's Casebook is a television series that was broadcast on the BBC from 1962 until 1971[1]. Based on A. J. Cronin's novella entitled Country Doctor, the storylines centred on a general medical practice in the fictional Scottish town of Tannochbrae during the late 1920s. Cronin was the primary writer for the show between 1962 and 1964.



The main characters were Dr. Finlay, the junior partner in the practice, played by Bill Simpson, Dr. Cameron, the craggy senior partner, played by Andrew Cruickshank, Janet, their unflappable housekeeper and receptionist at Arden House, played by Barbara Mullen. Other recurrent characters included Dr. Snoddie, Finlay's crusty detractor and Janet's admirer, played by Eric Woodburn, and gossipy Mistress Niven (the district nurse), played by Effie Morrison.


  • Bill Simpson as Dr. Alan Finlay
  • Andrew Cruickshank as Dr. Angus Cameron
  • Barbara Mullen as Janet MacPherson
  • Eric Woodburn as Dr. Snoddie
  • Effie Morrison as Mistress Niven
  • Neil Wilson as Sgt. Gilbey
  • David Macmillan as Constable Dickie
  • Molly Urquhart as Matron
  • Robert James as Mr. Gibson
  • Delia Paton as Sister
  • Bryden Murdoch as Galbraith
  • Marigold Sharman as Mrs. Rae
  • James Copeland as 'Hooky' Buchanan
  • Helena Gloag as Mrs. Ballantyne
  • Leonard Maguire as Lewis Gilbride
  • Calum Mill as Andrew McGregor

Filming location

Although it is widely documented that the original series was filmed in the town of Callander in Perthshire, the very first six episodes were filmed in Tannoch Drive, Milngavie, where the fictional Arden House was situated on the right-hand side as one approaches Tannoch Loch. It was the ducks on that loch that formed part of the opening sequence of the programme. The preceding shot is of the Red Bridge over the River Teith. In one of those first episodes, Dr. Finlay (Bill Simpson) crashed his old Bullnose Morris into the wall of Arden House—and that was not in the script. Another episode, filmed at night along Mugdock Road[citation needed], found the local policeman, somewhat inebriated, on his bicycle in a scene with Dr. Snoddie. Only exterior scenes were filmed on location, the interiors being shot in various BBC studios in London.


From 1970 until 1978, episodes from Dr. Finlay's Casebook were broadcast on BBC Radio 4 with some of the same actors from the television programme. Twenty episodes were broadcast on BBC 7 in the autumn of 2003 and have been repeated annually since. In 2001 and 2002, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a version of the original Cronin stories using the titles, The Adventures of a Black Bag and Doctor Finlay - Further Adventures of a Black Bag ; these have been rebroadcast by BBC 7. The adaptations are set in Levenford, the original setting chosen by Cronin, rather than Tannochbrae. The role of Dr. Finlay was played by John Gordon Sinclair. Dr. Cameron was played by Brian Pettifer, and Janet was played initially by Katy Murphy, and then by Celia Imrie. David Tennant was a frequent guest actor.


The programme's famous theme tune was Trevor Duncan's march from A Little Suite. The other two movements from the Suite were often used as background music. The characters from the series are also featured in a song entitled Dr. Finlay by Andy Stewart, which scored a minor Top 50 hit in 1965.


Cronin received copies of the scripts, and he wrote a blunt letter to the series' script editor in 1964, expressing his dissatisfaction with the progression of the show. Word leaked to the media, and in June 1964, stories appeared in the national press suggesting that the author wanted the series to end. One newspaper even accused the author of "maliciously doing millions out of legitimate enjoyment." The outcry from the viewing public was immediate, and sackfuls of mail were dispatched to Cronin's home in Switzerland. He issued a statement on 7 June to refute the charges made against him:

I have had hundreds of letters from viewers saying how sorry they were that the series was ending and that they were sorry that I was to blame. I don't like to disappoint anybody, but just lately the series has got out of line. The scripts have been getting ragged and introduced extraneous characters. If you overrun a programme, you end up with a soap opera. What annoys me is that the BBC have placed the whole onus of the row on me. I have written telling them it is a matter of improving scripts. I have no intention of stopping the series.

By the following year, the series was in every sense a cult, even a national institution. A Bill Simpson Fan Club was set up, Andy Stewart's Dr Finlay was in the Hit Parade for five weeks, and Andrew Cruikshank was invited as a guest of honour at the British Medical Association's annual dinner to speak on medical matters as if he was a real GP.[2]

See also

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  1. ^ BBC
  2. ^ Haining, Peter On Call with Doctor Finlay. London: Boxtree Limited, 1994

External links

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