Do You Know About Dr. Finlay?

Yes, yet another medical based British telly series to tell you about. Based on a novella entitled Country Doctor by author and doctor A.J. Cronin, Dr. Finlay’s Casebook was a television series that was broadcast on the BBC from 1962 until 1971. The storylines centred on a general medical practice in the fictional Scottish town of Tannochbrae during the late 1920s.  
The latest television series featuring Dr. Finlay is set in the post-WWII era, with the plot lines revolving around a small local medical practice in Scotland. One of the recurring themes is the transition to the National Health Service, instituted in Britain in 1948. Doctor Finlay supports the move, while other doctors resist the change. The show stars David Rintoul as Dr. Finlay, Ian Bannen as his semi-retired practice partner, Dr. Cameron, and Annette Crosbie as his housekeeper, Janet. Other central characters include Finlay’s assistant, Dr. Neil, played by Jason Flemyng and Finlay’s new partner, Dr. Napier, played by Jessica Turner. The series is a Scottish Television production (now known as STV Productions) that was filmed in Auchtermuchty, Fife, Scotland. It aired in the U.S. on PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre.

Life in post-war Scotland–or to be precise, post-war Tannochbrae–is not getting any easier for Dr. John Finlay. His workload is increasing now that former partner Dr. Cameron is semi-retired, his relationship with young Dr. Neil is strained, and he is also preparing the practice for the setting up of the National Health Service. Meanwhile the ever-reliable housekeeper Janet is preparing for her marriage to local pharmacist Angus Livingstone, though she is worried about her successor at Arden House.

The interactions between three generations of doctors adds extra depth and interest to the stories. Each fellow has his own quirks and weaknesses. We like them all, even when they are cantankerous (Cameron), humorless (Finlay), or cocky (Neil).

A look at the plot synopsis for the first episode, which aired on 9 May 1993, will give you the flavor of this character driven series: In 1946, Dr. John Finlay is finally demobilized and he returns to life in private practice in his native Scotland. His partner, Dr. Alexander Cameron, has stayed on passed his retirement age to keep the practice open pending his return but it is now far less prosperous that when he left it and is barely paying for itself. Dr. Cameron hires a new locum, Dr. David Neil, to join the practice but fails to consult Finlay before doing so. Finlay and Neil begin to question the elder member of the practice’s judgment when they suspect he had mis-prescribed medication to a pregnant woman.

For the remainder of the series, the private lives of the characters and concerns of the patients drive the plots and often tug at the heartstrings. Settle in with a cuppa and enjoy these dvds, which should be available through most public libraries.

2 thoughts on “Do You Know About Dr. Finlay?”

  1. Remember David Rintoul in Pride and Prejudice — from the BBC in the late 80's? He was an excellent Darcy, suitably underwhelmed by the Bennet girls and life in Meryton. I'm glad he is still out there as a leading man!!

Leave a Reply