Welcome to Action TV Online homepage for the British magazine of archive and cult Television.
Sutherland's Law
BBC 1972 - 1976
Man Overboard
TX : 23rd August 1972
Director : David Cunliffe
Script : Anthony Coburn

Cast :
Gareth Thomas (Alec Duthie), Don McKillop (Sergeant MacIntyre), Sandra Clark (Janet Campbell), John Mackenzie (PC Meregnie), Sheelah Wilcocks (Kate Campbell), Neil Wilson (Archie Campbell), Richard Hampton (Hugh MacPhail), Steve Gardner (Willy Campbell), Derek Francis (Mr Sutherland), Roger Hammond (Sheriff), Robert Fyfe (Mr MacPhee), Maev Alexander (Christine), Richard Armour (Mr Robertson), Jill Brooke (Mrs Murray) and James Cosmo (Ian Campbell).

Synopsis :
The new Fiscal in the town of Glendoran conducts a Fatal Accident Enquiry. But, did Ian Campbell fall accidentally or will the Court find a murderer amongst the witnesses?

Notes :
Episodes were originally transmitted 8:10pm to 9:00pm.

A Cry For Help
TX : 6th June 1973
Director : Roderick Graham
Script : Martin Worth (From a story by Lindsay Galloway)

Cast : Mary Riggans, Louise MacLaren, Jameson Clark, John Shedden, John Mulvaney, Arthur Boland, Callum Mill, Charles Kearney, Isabel Begg, John Fitzpatrick and Lesley Mackie.

Publicity : Laying Down Scots Law - Iain Cuthbertson, a Soho gang-leader in Budgie and a Chief Constable in Scotch on the Rocks (Friday), talks to George Rosie about being a Procurator-fiscal in BBC-1's Sutherland's Law: "Let's put it this way," says Iain Cuthbertson about his home on the Solway Firth, "I'd rather be out of work up here than out of work down in London". Which is hardly surprising; Cuthbertson and his wife, actress Anne Kristen, live in some style in an elegant nineteenth-century house. "1837 it was built," he says, "and made entirely of granite. Nice, isn't it?. See that little island over there," he says, pointing across the Solway mud flats, "a bird sanctuary. Oyster-catchers, redshanks, curlews, some geese. The terns will be back soon. And there's a nice mussel bed on the other side …". He made his mark on the British stage in the late 1950s when he landed the job of running the famous Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. But managing a theatre in Gorbals Street had a way of being different from managing other theatres. "There used to be a plate-glass display window out front," he says, "but it had to go. The local theatergoers kept kicking it in".

National recognition came with the ITV series Budgie when Cuthbertson was Charlie Endell, the Soho-Scot (a common breed), pimp, racketeer, pornographer, clip-joint operator, and protection artist. "I really enjoyed that character," Cuthbertson says with some relish. "The Keith Waterhouse scripts were absolutely fantastic. Not a redundant word among them. They were put together beautifully". Did he get fan-mail from the underworld? "Not exactly," he says, "but I did meet quite a few villains. There seems to be some strange tie-up between them and what Adam Faith used to call the TWSB - Throbbing World of Show Biz …". The Cuthbertson / Faith partnership was a hugely popular one. So why did it end? "Credibility," he says, "the situations had all been worked out. It became less and less likely that somebody like Charlie Endell would employ a bungler like Budgie. So we broke it up. Maybe we were wrong? Tom and Jerry seem to go on for ever". Now he is on the other side of the fence as John Sutherland, Procurator-fiscal of a Highland town in Sutherland's Law (Wednesday, 8:00pm, BBC-1). What is a Procurator-fiscal? "A bit like the American District Attorney," Cuthbertson explains, "or the French Examining Magistrate. In Scottish law the police don't prosecute. They take their evidence to the Fiscal, who investigates it, then decides whether to lay the case before the Sheriff. There's nothing like it in English law … It's a marvellous part". And the future? "Well, the main reason I became an actor was to learn how to write plays," he says, "and I think I'd like to take that up again. The whole business of writing fascinates me … having the idea, the background reading, doing the research …". (Radio Times, May 31, 1973 - Article by George Rosie).

Synopsis : An old woman lies dying by the side of the road. Sutherland knows his way of life is at stake.

Notes : Episodes were originally transmitted 8:00pm to 8:50pm on BBC 1.

The Sea
TX : 13th June 1973
Director : Neil McCallum
Script : Anthony Coburn

Cast : James Cosmo (Ian Campbell), Sheelah Wilcocks (Kate Campbell), Sandra Clark (Janet Campbell), Neil Wilson (Archie Campbell), Steve Gardner (Willy Campbell), Richard Hampton (Mr Robertson), Roger Hammond (Sheriff) and Robert Fyfe (Mr MacPhee).

Synopsis : The new Deputy Fiscal in the town of Glendoran conducts a Fatal Accident Enquiry. But did Ian Campbell fall accidentally from the deck of the fishing boat Alert, or will the Court find a murderer amongst the witnesses? Will Sutherland have to admit that blood is sometimes not as thick as water?

The Travelling People
TX : 20th June 1973
Director : Roderick Graham
Script : Nick McCarty

Cast : Stassia Stakis, Bruce White, Sheila Latimer, Simon Lack, Katy Gardiner and Clem Ashby.

Synopsis : Why should a beautiful girl be running through a wood in the middle of the night carrying a one-hundred-and-twenty-one-pound Salmon? And who shot her?

The Dutchies
TX : 27th June 1973
Director :
Paul Ciappessoni
Script : David Fisher

Cast : Angus MacPhail, Jessie Morton, Hans Mater, Saul Reichlin, Jackie Farrell and Benny Young.

Synopsis : What matters more - that justice should be served or that a whole town should be ruined? Sutherland has to decide whether the Law serves the people, or the people serve the Law.

The Running Man
TX : 4th July 1972
Director :
Geraint Morris
Script : Jack Gerson

Cast : David Mowat (Callum), Betty Gillin (Miss Graham), Eileen McCallum (Sally Morrison), W H D Joss (Prison Governor), Roy Hanlon (McCann), Paul Kermack (Craig), Phil McCall (Weasel Willows), Charlie Sim (Hughie Ross), Walter Jackson (First Poker Player), Ken Henderson (Second Poker Player), Ian Ireland (Corry) and Jack McKenzie (PC Merengie).

Synopsis : Who is The Milkie? Why was he trying to get to Glendoran? And who was chasing him?

The Return
TX : 11th July 1972
Director :
Paul Ciappessoni
Script : John Foster

Cast : Veronica Strong (Stella Ross), Mary Ann Reid and Elizabeth Sinclair.

Synopsis : Why has Stella Ross returned to Glendoran? Who is threatening her life? And what can Sutherland do to prevent a second tragedy in her life?

The Ship
TX : 18th July 1972
Director :
Brian Farnham
Script : John Wiles

Cast : Jemil Mohammed, Leonard Maguire, Jack MacKenzie, Brian Pettifer and Isobel Gardner.

Synopsis : A valuable pendant is the first link in a chain which takes Sutherland all around the world to end where he started.

The Runaway
TX : 1st August 1972
Director :
Geraint Morris
Script : George Byatt

Cast : Fiona Kennedy (Mary Campbell), Bryden Murdoch, Bill Denniston, Jean Taylor-Smith and John Laurimore.

Synopsis : With the best of intentions, Christine tries to help young Mary Campbell. And puts the girl in terrible danger.

The Climb
TX : 8th August 1972
Director :
Brian Farnham
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Maurice Roeves, David Knowles and Jay Smith.

Synopsis : A man is dead. Why? Sutherland and Duthie have to climb a killer mountain to find the truth. And the last time Sutherland climbed, there was a terrible tragedy.

The Family
TX : 15th August 1972
Director :
George Spenton-Foster
Script : Tom Wright

Cast : Kathleen Byron, Del Henney, John Dunn-Hill, Maggie Jordan, Joseph Greig and John Grieve.

Synopsis : Sutherland becomes involved in a vendetta, and has a hard choice to make when the hunter becomes the hunted.

The House
TX : 22nd August 1972
Director :
Bob McIntosh
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Allan Cuthbertson, Murdo MacDonald, James MacKenzie, Walter Carr and Xanthia Gardner.

Synopsis : Speaking Gaelic, building a house and shooting at a rabbit can land you in High Court. Or so one old man finds out. Sutherland finds himself dealing with the spirit of the 45.

The Prodigal
TX : 29th August 1972
Director :
George Spenton-Foster
Script : Alun Richards

Cast : Valerie Gearon, Scott Fredericks, Martin Heller, Michael O'Halloran and Kevin Collins.

Synopsis : A young delinquent sets fire to a local petrol station. In order to present the full case, Sutherland finds himself not only prosecuting but defending.

The Killing
TX : 3th September 1972
Director :
Brian Farnham
Script : John Gould

Cast : Anthony Bate, James Boyce, E J P Mace, Bill Henderson, Desmond Reilly and Alex Norton.

Synopsis : What is the difference between killing and murder? The soldier and the poisoner both know, but Sutherland has the most difficult decision of his career to make.

The Thirteenth Man
TX : 15th May 1974
Director : Frank Cox
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Tony Selby, Gerard Slevin, Charles Kearney, David Scouller, Alex McCrindle, Geoffrey Davion and Paul Kermack.

Synopsis : The power of the sea should never be taken lightly. When a notorious whirlpool claims several lives, it's important for Sutherland to lay the blame on the right shoulders.

Notes : Episodes were originally transmitted 8:00pm to 8:50pm on BBC 1.

Caesar's Wife
TX : 22nd May 1974
Director : Douglas Camfield
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Iris Russell, Anthony Garner, Wilma Duncan, Laurence Hardy, Xanthi Gardner, Jack Angus and Adam Urquhart.

Synopsis : When a respectable woman, a personal friend of Sutherland, is arrested for shoplifting, it soon becomes evident that vital information is being withheld. Why?

The Condemned
TX : 29th May 1974
Director : Pennant Roberts
Script : Jack Gerson

Cast : Callum Mill, Betty Gillin, Bruce White, Jean Forbes, Phyllida Law, Ian Stewart, Dudley Stuart White, David Mowat and Harry Walker.

Synopsis : A twenty-year-old murder still casts a long shadow. Especially when the son of the convicted murderer throws doubts on the infallibility of the law.

The Break
TX : 5th June 1974
Director :
Patrick Friend
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Frank Wylie, Leslie Schofield, Paul Antrim, Lloyd Marshall, Marjorie Thomson, Tony Roper, Hugh Boyle, Charlie Sim and Leslie Blackater.

Synopsis : When a trawler skipper is beaten up and doesn't lay a complaint, Doctor Roberts is intrigued. So is Sutherland.

The Retreat
TX : 12th June 1974
Director :
Pennant Roberts
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : William Connell, Kenneth Owens, Andrew Downie, John Shedden, Xanthi Gardner, Adam Urquhart and Ian Anderson.

Synopsis : A guilty boy is allowed to go free and Sutherland's professional problems clash with some deeply personal ones. The outcome could well change his life.

The Winner
TX : 10th July 1974
Director :
Paul Ciappessoni
Script : Arthur Jones

Cast : Patrick Allen, Janet Key, Willy Joss, Michael Malone, Barry Malone, Gilly McIver, Ian Halliburton, Leonard Maguire and Bill Denniston.

Synopsis : A light aircraft engages in some dangerous stunt flying and the pilot is killed. Accident or murder?

The Partnership
TX : 17th July 1974
Director :
Martin Patrick Friend
Script : Anthony Read

Cast : Raymond Ross (Ian Mackay), Donald Douglas, Garfield Morgan, Susan Tracy, Ron Patterson, Jackie Farrell, Richard Beagle, E J P Mace and Brown Derby.

Synopsis : Who or what caused the death of Ian Mackay? Whatever the answer, there are problems for the widow, the business partner and, Sutherland discovers, the insurance men.

The Evidence
TX : 25th July 1974
Director :
Gilchrist Calder
Script : Allan Prior

Cast : Brian Cox, June Andrews, Stanley Leach, Douglas Skelton, Neil Zeiger, Joan Fitzpatrick, Eileen McCallum, E J P Mace, Archie Duncan, Geoffrey Rose, Robert James, Geoffrey Toone, Ken Henderson and George Johnstone.

Synopsis : A woman is found dead by the roadside. Is she the victim of a hit-and-run driver - or a murderer?

Just A Little Death
TX : 3rd September 1974
Director :
Gilchrist Calder
Script : Nick McCarty

Cast : Ralph Michael, Ian McCulloch, Gwyneth Guthrie, Angus McKay and Ronald Johnstone.

Synopsis : A small boy has been poisoned. Sutherland acts quickly to prevent further deaths.

Notes :
This episode attracted 6.4 million viewers and was ranked as the sixth most popular programme of the week.

Matters Of Trust
TX : 10th September 1974
Director :
Pennant Roberts
Script : Ian Curteis

Cast : Xanthi Gardner, Adam Urquhart, Sam Glasgow, Lennox Milne and David Ashton.

Synopsis : Why did Neil Forsythe die on the operating table? Will a Public Inquiry really get at the truth?

The Device
TX : 17th September 1974
Director :
Terence Williams
Script : Ian Curteis

Cast : Neil Wilson and George Bryson.

Synopsis : An old man found in a burnt-out house, and a symbol chalked on the wall. Significant?

Who Cares?
TX : 25th September 1974
Director :
Frank Cox
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Patrick Troughton (Fergusson), Fraser Wilson, Adam Urquhart, Xanthi Gardner and Mary Ann Reid.

Synopsis : Christine Russell discovers she's not the only unexpected visitor to the Fiscal's office.

TX : 1st October 1974
Director :
Brian Farnham
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : James Copeland, Hugh Evans, James Grant, Denis Carey and Gudrun Ure.

Synopsis : For Glendoran, as elsewhere, there's a new prosperity just around the corner - but is it worth it?

In At The Deep End
TX : 27th May 1975
Director : Don Leaver
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Michael Gough (James Shaw), Peter Kelly (George Bell), Brian Carey (Donnelly), Tony Calvin (Priest), Heather Francis (Receptionist) and Molly Urquhart (Maud McDonald).

Publicity : Taking The Law Into Her Hands - When Procurator Fiscal Sutherland, played by Iain Cuthbertson, returns to BBC-1 this week in a new series of Sutherland's Law, he'll have not only a wider area to administer but also a new assistant in the shape of Helen Matheson (actress Virginia Stark). Gordon McGill met the two actors, together with a real retired Procurator Fiscal, and learned how fact and fiction overlap in the town where the series was filmed: In the foyer of a small West of Scotland hotel Virginia Stark's producer was relating to her the perils of the evening's journey to John Stevenson's home. There was, he said, a fearsome blizzard outside and a badly twisting road to try to drive up. And then there was Mr Stevenson himself, with his daunting reputation for hospitality.

But Virginia, the new recruit to Sutherland's Law, thought it would do her good to listen to Stevenson's stories and 'tae lap up a' that background atmosphere. And so she went. Stevenson was Procurator Fiscal for fifteen years and although the series is not based on him, it owes much of its conception to the hours he spent over pints of beer with Sutherland's creator, Lindsay Galloway. As technical adviser on the first series in 1973 he provided some of the stories and sorted out the legal details. "I allowed a certain amount of dramatic licence. The cases which John Sutherland comes across don't occur every week [A fact borne out by the local newspaper, whose crime rate for the week consisted of a couple of driving offences and a Glasgow man jailed for stealing copper]. But all the cases could happen - and some have. "The unique aspect of the Fiscal system is that the Procurator has the responsibility to investigate and prosecute cases and must also help out the defence.

In addition, it is up to him to decide whether there is a case to answer". It is this fiscal point which allows the Fiscal to become a human buffer between the letter of the law and its execution. Stevenson estimates that the common sense of the Fiscal sorts out twenty-five-percent of cases before they go to court. In anecdotal late-night mood Stevenson recalled the time when "a bunch of poachers went out to sea and were tipped off that the Customs were on to them. When they returned to port and were confronted, they had stripped to their underpants. They claimed that they had been away for a midnight swim …". "It's Only The Television Folk": Virginia, a prizewinning drama student from Glasgow with experience of BBC-2 costume dramas, such as Weir Of Hermiston and The Haggard Falcon, becomes Helen Matheson for the summer, a depute (or deputy) to Sutherland, whose patch has been enlarged because of local authority boundary changes. The producer describes her as an essential new ingredient to a series where the old characters have begun to grow together.

Writer Lindsay Galloway is more blunt about her potential attraction. "I once heard of a woman depute who wore tight pants and caused havoc," he says, as if quietly relishing the havoc to be created in future scripts. Next morning, Virginia is up early, stamping round a cold boatyard near Oban harbour. A few locals linger to watch the filming and point out to the boatman that his yard is full of people. "Aye. It's only the television folk," he says. Like Sutherland's fictional Glendoran, Oban is a schizophrenic little town of some eight-thousand - quiet in winter but sprouting bed-and-breakfast signs and tripling its population and crime statistics in the summer. "These Fiscals Are Extraordinary": Iain Cuthbertson arrives on the scene. Since the series began, he has become so enamoured of the place that he now keeps a boat in the harbour. Fact and fiction overlap through his friendship with Stevenson, and the two men often sail together. Like Sutherland, Cuthbertson prefers his patch in the winter when it's quiet and over the past three years he has become something of an enthusiast for the Fiscal system. "I approve of Sutherland. He's not a cardboard figure. Although, like many who work out other people's problems, he's not too good at sorting out his own life. But these Fiscals are extraordinary. They are paid less than their colleagues in private practice yet there's no evidence of corruption. They are dedicated men …".

A small cough from the boatyard interrupted him. "But she's probably going to be a problem to him - a female assistant …". The People - Lord Advocate: Chief Public Prosecutor in Scotland assisted by the Solicitor General for Scotland and seven Advocates Depute - collectively known as Crown Counsel. Prosecution case is prepared for court by the Procurator Fiscal. The People - Crown Agent: Assisted by the staff of Crown Office, and the link between the Procurator Fiscal and the Lord Advocate. The People - Procurator Fiscal: Local representative of the Lord Advocate and public prosecutor in Sheriff and District Courts. He is responsible for the investigation of all criminal offences and is subject only to the instructions of the Lord Advocate. It is the Procurator Fiscal and not the police (as in England and Wales) who decides whether or not to prosecute. Once he is informed of an investigation, he personally directs it. In many cases the Procurator Fiscal will not know of the offence until the police have charged someone, but he is often consulted at an earlier stage and he is invariably informed at the earliest possible stage in the case of all suspected murders.

The Procurator Fiscal is responsible for the preparation in all cases for court (including the High Court) and he prosecutes all cases in the Sheriff and District Courts. The Courts - High Court Of Justiciary: High Court Judge and fifteen-man jury. The Courts - Sheriff Court: (a) Sheriff (legally qualified judge) sitting with a jury of fifteen persons. Powers of sentence: unlimited fine (unless limited for a statutory offence) or imprisonment for up to two years. (b) Sheriff sitting alone - summarily. Powers of sentence: usually a fine of up to four-hundred pounds or imprisonment for six months or at common law a fine of up to one-hundred-and-fifty pounds or imprisonment for up to six months. The Court - District Court: The judge is either one or more Justices of the Peace, or a Stipendiary Magistrate (who is legally qualified). Powers of sentence: fine of up to one-hundred pounds or sixty days' imprisonment. (Radio Times, May 22, 1975).

Synopsis : See for yourself, sir … you booked in as a single. Mrs Shaw wasn't with you, sir. You were alone". Sutherland has acquired a new assistant, Helen Matheson. Her first case concerns the whereabouts of a Mrs Shaw. James Shaw booked into the Oban Hotel alone.

Notes : Episodes were originally transmitted 8:10pm to 9:00pm on BBC 1. This episode attracted 7.8 million viewers (the highest viewing figures Sutherland's Law reaped) and was ranked as the ninth most popular programme of the week.

A Slight Case Of Matrimony
TX : 3rd June 1975
Director : Michael E Briant
Script : Jack Gerson

Cast : John Fraser (Archie McIndoe), Michael Elder (The Reverend Mr McNeil), John Harvey, Claire Nielson, Leon Sinden and Saria Ballintyne.

Synopsis : I simply said every time we run into the Reverend Mr McNeil, he glares at us. As if we're living in sin because he didn't marry us!".

No Second Chance
TX : 10th June 1975
Director : Don Leaver
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Simon Mackforkindale (Ian Sutherland), James Cairncoss, George Howell, Bill Denniston and David Bannermen.

Synopsis : "It shouldn't be there. There comes a time in the life of gelignite when it loses its sense of humour".

A Murmur Of Malice
TX : 17th June 1975
Director :
Michael E Briant
Script : Robert Banks Stewart

Cast : Duncan Lamont (Evan Begg), Barry Malone, Angus White, Michael Malone, Irene Sunters, Callum Mill and John Shedden.

Synopsis : "Yes. I can't be sure, but it looks as though one of them must have found out about me".

The Italian Debt
TX : 24th June 1975
Director :
Raymond Menmuir
Script : Tom Wright

Cast : Harry Hakin (Ferdie Angelotti), Gennie Nevison, Ian Halliburton, Jack McKenzie, Jeremy Hare, Hugh Boyle and Dennis DeMarne.

Synopsis : "You believed these two men were from the Water Board, so you let them in…"

A Lady Of Considerable Talent
TX : 1st July 1975
Director :
Raymond Menmuir
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Carolyn Courage (Katie Melrose), Michael Culver (John Melrose), Bill Denniston, Anthony Rowe and Valma Pratt.

Synopsis : "David, I think I've put my foot in it … what is Mr Sutherland doing in Edinburgh?".

Creatures In A Private Zoo
TX : 8th July 1975
Director :
Andrew Morgan
Script : Jack Gerson

Cast : Robin Morant (Robin Antrim), Jan Waters (Celia Antrim), Ian Ireland, Jon Morrison, Conrad Phillips and Ian Hallburton.

Synopsis : "Still and all, why would somebody be on the river, signaling at that time of night?".

A Good Place For Murder
TX : 15th July 1975
Director :
Martyn Friend
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Colin Douglas (Charlie Kemp), Bruce McKenzie, Anne Kaitt, Jack D'Arcy and William Fox.

Synopsis : . "Therre's not much I can tell you … except that a very likeable police officer appears to have got himself into considerable trouble".

A Matter Of Self-Defence
TX : 22nd July 1975
Director :
Ben Rea
Script : Robert Banks Stewart

Cast : Michael Aldridge (Bailie Tom Massie), Jimmy Martin, Ray Jeffries, Bryden Murdoch, David Butler, Audrey Muir, Joanna Cooper, William Armour, Jack Lambert, Jean Bruce and Iain Glas.

Synopsis : "Ten to one it's grisly. They seem to reserve those for the small hours!".

The Rag Doll
TX : 29th July 1975
Director :
Martyn Friend
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Patrick Barr (Alexander Lauder), Bridget Turner (Jane Lauder), Sarah Cochrane, Xanthi Gardner, Martin Heller, Mary Ann Reid and John Groves.

Synopsis : "The poor wee soul's dead. An Inquiry isn't going to help her".

The End Of The Good Times
TX : 5th August 1975
Director :
Ben Rea
Script : Jack Gerson

Cast : John Carson (Nicholas Fallon), John Breslin (McKinney), Vivien Heilbron and Sean Caffrey.

Synopsis : "Fallon doesn't represent anyone unless he's asked for. McKinney didn't ask for him. Who did?".

The Fixer
TX : 12th August 1975
Director :
Raymond Menmuir
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Roddy McMillan (Willie MacAllister), James McKenzie, Sandy Myles, Gerard Slevin, Iain Kennedy, Victor Carin, Terry Cavers, Bill McCabe, Ian Dewar, Xanthia Gardner and Brown Derby.

Synopsis : "We're enquiring into the theft of a cheque book and a bank card, Mrs Sutherland. We'd be glad if you could help us with information".

Jacob's Ladder
TX : 6th July 1976
Director :
Paul Ciappessoni
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Anne Sandeman (Angie Kilmichael), Toby Robins (Cassie Malone), Michael Goodliffe (James Kilmichael) and Jackie Farrell (Fraser).

Synopsis : "It seems to me that this Jacob's Ladder is very steep, very difficult and damned dangerous!".

Blind Jump
TX : 13th July 1976
Director :
Paul Ciappessoni
Script : Robert Banks Stewart

Cast : Martin Shaw (Forsyth), Robert Docherty, Ann Scott-Jones, Jan Francis, Joanna Dunham, Gilly McIver and Elaine Collins.

Synopsis : "Forsyth walked to a telephone box himself to dial 999. He was alone when an ambulance got there. He claimed last night he was the driver…but he wasn't".

Small Print
TX : 20th July 1976
Director :
Jonathan Alwyn
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Peter Copley, Sandy Myles, Bill Denniston, Jim Boyce, Michael O'Halloran, George Howell, Xanthi Gardner and Paul Kermack.

Synopsis : "A fire can smoulder for hours before it…becomes a fire, so to speak".

The Eye Of The Chameleon
TX : 3rd August 1976
Director :
Roger Tucker
Script : Jack Gerson

Cast : William Gaunt, Patrick Malahide, Hazel McBride, Jenni Giffen, Katherine Stark, Jean Bruce, David Mowat, Kathleen Helme, Marjorie Thomson, Avril Stewart, John Buick, David Gabt and Ann Scott-Jones.

Synopsis : "A little gentle courtship, and then he decamps with every penny he can lay his hands on!".

TX : 10th August 1976
Director :
John Bruce
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Brown Derby, Xanthi Gardner, Jake D'Arcy, John Croft, Adam Urquhart, Mary Ann Reid and Sam (Murphy).

Synopsis : "No, no, Mrs Sutherland. I don't feel the same about human begins as I do about horses".

Next Year…In Jerusalem
TX : 17th August 1976
Director :
Jonathan Alwyn
Script : Jack Gerson

Cast : David Butler, Patrick Joyce, Bill Denniston, Arthur Boland, Madeleine Christie, Tom Watson, David Hayman and Ian Jacob Thompson.

Synopsis : "Funny, isn't it? They wear their hats - we take ours off!".

The Hot Water Boat
TX : 24th August 1976
Director :
John Bruce
Script : Robert Banks Stewart

Cast : John Horsley, Geoffrey Palmer (Athol Fairfax, QC), Frank Wylie, Derek Anders, Ronald Forfad, Hugh Evans, Ellen Sheean, Anne Kidd, Bill Denniston, Martin Heller, Bonita Beach and Adam Urquhart.

Synopsis : "There's no way we can get around the fact that the gun was fired - in the direction of another person!".

Shades Of Black
TX : 31st August 1976
Director :
Roger Tucker
Script : Lindsay Galloway

Cast : Iris Russell, Amanda Walker, Bernard Kay, Paul Young, Jameson Clark, Bill Denniston, David Steuart, Jay Smith and Mary Ann Reid.

Synopsis : "All the same…would you agree that he's got too much power?".

Spawned from the highly-successful Drama Playhouse series, Sutherland's Law concerned the cases which were presented before the Procurator Fiscal (who was instructed to consider all the evidence presented before them prior to recommending whether or not a case should be brought to trial) in the fictional Scottish village of Glendoran (actually the town of Oban).

In the pilot episode transmitted in August 1972, John Sutherland (in this instance portrayed by Derek Francis), the newly-appointed Fiscal to the region, conducted a Fatal Accident Enquiry into whether or not Ian Campbell's fall from the deck of a fishing vessel was accidental or a murderous act.

Assisted by Alec Duthie (Gareth Thomas) and Christine Russell (Maev Alexander) in weighing up the evidence, it remained for Sutherland to draw the murderer from the company of witnesses. The popularity of this initial fifty-minute entry into the Drama Playhouse collection, titled Man Overboard, resulted in the series being subsequently commissioned for transmission the following summer.

This pilot episode would, in an unusual step, be remade as the second episode of the first series, re-titled The Sea. The role of Sutherland was re-cast as Iain Cutherbertson, who was considered an actor capable of portraying both the professional and personal aspects of the character with greater aplomb.

The programme presented cases which were not entirely straight-forward (in a similar vein to that which currently appears in Silent Witness) and involved greater investigation by Sutherland and his team before a decision as to whether or not there was a case to answer could be concluded.

Mysterious hit-and-run accidents, money with menacies, the rights of laird and landowners alike, and crimes with deeper motives than appeared on the surface where the lifeblood of this series, which successfully endured periodic cast changes at the start of each season, with new assistants and an expanding police force ensuring that the programme cast and content remained rich and variable, over the course of forty fifty-minute episodes and five seasons.

The series, which had been created by Lindsay Galloway in consultation with a retired Procurator Fiscal, John Stevenson (who also performed in the capacity of technical adviser on the first series, to continue the BBC's languid tradition of ensuring authenticity to the nature of its entertainment for the masses), featured notable performances from Gareth Thomas (Roj Blake from Blake's 7), James Cosmo, Michael Gough, Geoffrey Palmer and Roddy McMillan.

The programme, whilst attracting modest audience figures and performing well against its competitors in the same timeslot (across the networks), was a novel example of a dying trend in late 1970s television - an original concept. The emergence of police dramas as a staple televisual diet towards the end of the decade made programmes dealing with the procedural and legal aspects of crimes, a popular enough concept during the 1960s and early 1970s, unpalatable in the 1980s and early 1990s (though the trend has bucked once again, perhaps owing to the popularity of programmes such as North Square and Kavanagh QC).

The series was successfully exported, though its commercial exploitation was a matter BBC Worldwide seemingly overlooked. The series has (to date) not been released in any medium.

Text © Matthew Lee, 2004.

Portrayed By
John Sutherland
Iain Cuthbertson & Derek Francis (Drama Playhouse only)
Alec Duthie
Gareth Thomas
Christine Russell
Maev Alexander
Sergeant McKechnie
Don McKillop
Sherriff Derwent
Moutrie Kelsall
David Drumond
Martin Cochrane
Gail Munro
Harriet Bucan
Helen Matheson
Virginia Stark
Doctor Judith Roberts
Edith Macarthur
Chief Inspector Menzies
Victor Carin
Detective Sergeant Duff
Joseph Brady
Kate Cameron
Sarah Collier
Sergeant Fowlis
Kenneth Drury

The series was devised and created by Lindsay Galloway. Drama Playhouse was produced by Anthony Coburn. The series was produced by Neil McCallum (Series 1) and Frank Cox (Series 2, 3, 4 and 5). Script Editors for the series were Graham Williams (Series 1) and Mervyn Haisman (Series 2).
Please note synopsis are taken from the original Radio Times listings for the day of transmission.