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Sutherland’s Law (BBC-1 1972-1976, Iain Cuthbertson, Gareth Thomas)

Sutherland's Law

In the popular crime drama series Sutherland’s Law procurator fiscal tackles crime in the Scottish Highlands town of Glendoran (lots of location work took place in Oban). The Fiscal is the person who, under Scottish law is responsible for determinging whether a case should be brought to trial or not.

The intelligent and take no nonsense Sutherland is assisted by deputy fiscal Alec Duthie who is naive enough to still feel the need to get personally involved. Over the course of the series though new deputes would come on board, most notably from season four onward Helen Matheson.

The show actually started life as an entry in the BBC’s Drama Playhouse strand (broadcast 23 August 1972) and had Derek Francis in the lead role of Sutherland before the superb Iain Cuthbertson took on the role for the series which began the following June (incidentally this pilot episode titled A Man Overboard was remade as episode two in the series proper).

The cases tackled by the team ranged from your usual fare of murder, kidnap, fraud and the like to more esoteric stories such as a family vendetta that gets out of hand in the episode The Family, arson, a case of dangerous flying and even a possible case of witchcraft.

Guest stars tended to be high quality too including the likes of Patrick Troughton, Ian McCulloch, Tony Selby, James Cosmo, Brian Pettifer, Maurice Roeves, Kathleen Byron, Patrick Allen, Michael Gough, Simon McCorkindale, Michael Culver, Patrick Barr, William Gaunt, Patrick Malahide, Jan Francis and Martin Shaw.

Sutherland was a consistently entertaining and strong drama series that still stands up very well today.

Sutherland's Law Title Card

production details
UK / BBC One / 47 x 50 minute episodes / Broadcast 23 August 1972 and 6 June 1973 – 31 August 1976

Creator: Lindsay Galloway / Script Editors: Graham Williams, Mervyn Haisman / Theme Music: Land of the Mountain and Flood by Hamish MacCunn / Technical Advisor: John Stevenson (a former Procurator Fiscal) / Producer: Neil McCallum (series one), Frank Cox (from series 2)

cast
IAIN CUTHERBERTSON as John Sutherland
GARETH THOMAS as Alec Duthie
MAEV ALEXANDER as Christine Russell
DON McKILLOP as Sergeant McKechnie
MOULTRIE KELSALL as Sheriff Derwent
MARTIN COCHRANE as David Drummond
HARRIET BUCHAN as Gail Munro
VIRGINIA STARK as Helen Matheson
EDITH MACARTHUR as Doctor Judith Roberts
VICTOR CARIN as Chief Inspector Menzies
JOSEPH BRADY as Detective Sergeant Duff
SARAH COLLIER as Kate Cameron
KENNETH DRURY as Sergeant Fowlis