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Sutherland’s Law (BBC Drama, Iain Cuthbertson)



In the popular crime drama series Sutherland’s Law procurator fiscal John Sutherland (Iain Cuthbertson) tackles crime in the Scottish Highlands town of Glendoran. 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 initially assisted by deputy fiscal Alec Duthie (Gareth Thomas) 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 David Drummond (Martin Cochrane) and Helen Matheson (Virginia Stark).

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.

Filming on the 1975 series began in late January with Virginia Stark coming on board as cast regular Helen Matheson. Series creator Lindsay Galloway contributed six scripts with the others written by Jack Gerson, Tom Wright, Ian Curtis and Robert Banks Stewart.

The fifth and final season which made it’s debut on Tuesday 6 July 1976, it did have something of a stop start feel about it because of coverage of the Olympic Games which saw the show off air for a few weeks. The three main writers on the final season were Lindsay Galloway, Jack Gerson and Robert Banks Stewart. This final season was the first that Oban locals (where the series was filmed) were able to see the show in colour. A colour transmitter at Torosay went into service on 4 June 1976.

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.

On 16 January 1974 Cuthbertson won the Radio Industries Club of Scotland’s TV Personality of the Year award for his playing of Sutherland. The series also won best programme.

Cast: IAIN CUTHBERTSON 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

Creator: Lindsay Galloway / Script Editors: Graham Williams, Mervyn Haisman / Technical Advisor: John Stevenson (a former Procurator Fiscal) / Producer: Neil McCallum (series one), Frank Cox (from series 2)

UK / BBC One / 47×50 minute episodes / 23 August 1972 and 6 June 1973 – 31 August 1976