A satirical, surreal and acutely observed comedy-drama from the mid-1980s, A Very Peculiar Practice
stars Peter Davison, who, following turns as a vet in All Creatures Great and Small
and the Doctor in Doctor Who
, here plays naïve Dr Stephen Daker, a profoundly nervous new addition to Lowlands University's medical practice. The distinctly eclectic team he meets is headed by the compassionate, incompetent, alcoholic and suicidal "Jock" McCannon (the gloriously theatrical Graham Crowden). Barbara Flynn is marvellous as the manipulative bisexual Dr Rose Marie, and David Troughton as Dr Bob Buzzard personifies the "greed-is-good" ethos of the era.
The seven 50-minute episodes here form an overall arc following Daker from sheer terror through romance with behavioural psychologist Lyn Turtle (Amanda Hillwood), to ethical conflict with the sociopathic vice-chancellor (played with relish by John Bird). Increasingly surreal (from strange nuns to stranger dream sequences--the second, even better series was more bizarre still), the series launches an acidic assault on the Thatcherite asset-stripping mentality that was then laying waste not just British universities, but the entire nation.
Written with an acute irony by Andrew Davies, whose move into more mainstream adaptations such as Pride and Prejudice (1995) was contemporary TV drama's greatest loss, A Very Peculiar Practice is a television landmark that, alongside The Singing Detective and Edge of Darkness, marks 1986 as one of the finest years in the history of the medium. --Gary S Dalkin
Andrew Davies' 7 part BBC black comedy is set in a university medical practice and stars Peter Davison. The episodes included are: 'A Very Long Way From Home', 'We Love You, That's Why We're Here', 'Wives of Great Men', 'Black Bob's Hamburger Suit', 'Contract Tracer', 'The Hit List' and 'Catastrophe Theory'.