When Michael Upton ( Barry Evans ) passed his exams in the final episode of 'Doctor In The House' in 1970, it looked like the end for the popular L.W.T. sitcom. Such were the ratings, however, that a follow-up was automatically commissioned.
'Doctor At Large' took Upton away from the antiseptic corridors of St.Swithins and out into the wild world beyond, becoming part of Dr.Maxwell's inner-city practice, then Dr.Griffin's country surgery, before ultimately returning to St.Swithins and the ever-watchful eye of Professor Geoffrey Loftus ( the late Ernest Clark ). It was like a soap in that the setting and supporting characters changed every few weeks.
Out went 'Duncan Waring' ( temporarily, as it turned out ), 'Danny Hooley', and 'Dave Briddock'. Making his debut was the odious 'Lawrence Marwood Bingham', excellently played by Richard O'Sullivan. He would go on to become a regular in future 'Doctor' series.
British sitcoms tend to run to six episodes per season, but 'Doctor At Large' stretched to an astonishing twenty-nine, meaning that the show was on air for most of 1971. What is equally astonishing is how good many of them are, and so they should be, seeing how John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Graeme Garden, and Bill Oddie were amongst the writers. An impressive line-up of guest-stars included Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Hattie Jacques, Jean Kent, Patsy Rowlands, Patricia Routledge, Roy Kinnear, Fulton Mackay, Freddie Jones, and a young Maureen Lipman!
Of particular note is the Cleese penned 'No Ill Feeling!' which was set in a seedy hotel run by a bullying, henpecked man ( Timothy Bateson ).Read more ›
In what would be Barry Evans final series in the lead Doctor At Large proved to be an interesting sequel to the Doctor In The House series. Doctor At Large was first broadcast between February to September 1971 and it was truly a bumper season of both mixed comedy and mixed situations giving the show more scope to play with as it wasn't just all centralised inside a hospital continously and so writers were able to indulge the lead players into new situations with more often than not hilarity. This new premise covers Micheal Upton's (Barry Evans) journey as a newly qualified Doctor with Dick Stuart-Clarke(Geoffrey Davies) and Paul Collier(George Layton). To continue that successful formula previously held and to maintain freshness in its appeal several of the more uninteresting characters from the initial run were dropped such as Dave Briddock and Danny Hooley(whom later proving his worth as a superb writer for the series and indeed other series such as "Dont Wait Up"!.
This extended season had a massive run of 29 episodes that year and so had a lot of time to explore and delve into several different themes giving many central characters moments to shine.Doctor Upton ended up initially in a poor practise (working alongside with Dr Maxwell (veteran DADS ARMY actor Arthur Lowe) and then at the other end of the stethoscope in a Harley Street practise working for the aristocacy. Doctor In Charge runs full circle as Upton ends up returning to St Swithin's Hospital as a Junior Registrar.
I really enjoyed Doctor at Large and I think it was a good idea to progress the characters through their careers rather than leaving them stagnate in the same position for many years. I would highly recommend this series.
Was this review helpful to you?
An excellent compilation, and the DVD picture quality is excellent. But Granada as usual couldn't be bothered to provide sub-titles for the hearing-impaired / millions of potential customers that are not native English speakers - my wife and children, for example.
Also, it's time that Amazon started clearly indicating whether its DVDs have sub-titles.