Dr Finlay’s Casebook

This is a Television Series loved by us all I think. The very last season they ever did was filmed in colour but this picture is from a Christmas Special in 1965

ABOVE – A scene from the ‘ The Gifts of the Magi’ a Christmas Special written by Harry Green. The Episode tells how Alison Bell, a former BBC Radio producer, goes talent-hunting at the Cottage Hospital children’s party. Eventually for the sake of a very sick child, she persuades Doctors Finlay and Cameron, and Snoddie to do their party pieces. When the day arrives each doctor seems bent on outshining the others – only to find that someone else outshines them all.

ABOVE – We see the doctors preparing with Janet looking on.

The popular series Dr Finlay’s Casebook was set in the 1920s in a pre-NHS medical practice in the fictional Scottish town of Tannochbrae (the series was actually filmed in the Highland town of Callander).

ABOVE – The cover of the Scottish Radio Times

The beautiful ‘Tannochbrae’

The little town of Tannochbrae – in truth, not much more than a village – had a 26-bed cottage hospital, with the Lanark Infirmary nearby, and an ambulance available when needed from the police station or neighbouring Knoxhill.

Arden House

The residents of Arden House were Dr Angus Cameron (Andrew Cruickshank), a confirmed bachelor who loved chess, was prone to asthma and was the type of old-fashioned doctor who intimidated patients into recovery.

The ‘young’ Dr Alan Finlay (Bill Simpson),  and no-nonsense housekeeper Janet MacPherson – played to perfection by Barbara Mullen.

ABOVE – A postcard from Tannochbrae

The original book


This delightful BBC TV series – which first appeared on our screens on 16 August 1962 – became hugely popular.

The last series was filmed in Colour which showed off Scotland’s beauty to great effect

Bill Simpson was plucked from reading the news with Scottish ITV in Glasgow. Like Dr Finlay, he was an ex-farmer and hailed from the Ayrshire fishing village of Dunure, almost an exact replica of Tannochbrae. In fact, the prodigal son returned to Dunure to film an episode in the series.

The BBC took great pains to maintain period detail in the series and there was a surprisingly large amount of location footage, clearly shot in rural Scotland. This helped create a realistic setting for the stories as well as provide a sense of isolation.

Among its active population, Tannochbrae numbered a good few workers from the colliery and shipyard not far away and – being near the Clyde and a pleasant loch – it attracted businessmen who commuted from their offices in Glasgow.

The daily medical needs of a sleepy lowland community between the wars proved hugely successful with viewers and Dr Finlay’s Casebook was a Sunday evening must for millions of viewers during the 1960s.

During the final season, the inhabitants of the Arden House surgery also appeared on radio, where they carried on dispensing common sense and rubbing ointment for a further seven years.


The show made stars of the dapper Bill Simpson, veteran actor Andrew Cruickshank and Barbara Mullen.

ITV revived Doctor Finlay in 1993 with Ian Bannen, Annette Crosbie and David Rintoul playing the parts of Doctor Cameron, Janet and Doctor Finlay and, in 2001, John Gordon Sinclair took on the title role in new adaptations of Cronin’s stories for BBC Radio 4.

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