Monday, 16 May 2011

The Doctor Series - Doctor In The House (1969)

Doctor in the House is the syndicated title given, by the United States, to a British television comedy series (including sequels), based on a set of books and a movie of the same name by Richard Gordon about the misadventures of a group of medical students — and their later misadventures as doctors.

The first five series (Doctor in the House, Doctor at Large, Doctor in Charge, Doctor at Sea and Doctor on the Go), were produced by London Weekend Television between 1969 and 1977.

The series (Doctor Down Under), which was filmed and based in Australia, was produced by Australia's Seven Network in 1979-80.

The final series (Doctor at the Top) was produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1991.

The same theme music was played for all of the "Doctor" television series, including the Australian series Doctor Down Under.

Michael Upton (Barry Evans), an easy-going, serious and somewhat anxious son of a doctor who is essentially following in his father's footsteps.

Duncan Waring (Robin Nedwell), Michael's best friend and roommate. He is just as bright as Upton, but far less serious in his studies, although he generally does well. After Barry Evans left the show, Nedwell returned as Waring to become the focus of the show.

Paul Collier (George Layton), a less competent student and friend of Upton and Waring.

Dick Stuart-Clark (Geoffrey Davies), a thirtyish student who deliberately fails his courses in order to take advantage of his late grandmother's will, which bequeathed him a large sum of money for each year he is in medical school.

Lawrence Bingham (Richard O'Sullivan), a brilliant, but arrogant and irritating doctor who believes he is the best of all possible doctors. He marries the equally obnoxious Dr. Mary Parsons (Helen Fraser) in the series Doctor in Charge. His need to continually impress her is the source of much comedy.

The main antagonist is the famous, well-respected and ill-tempered surgeon Professor Geoffrey Loftus (Ernest Clark). Most of the plot lines revolve around the students' attempts to meet his demanding expectations.

Unusually for a British situation comedy series Doctor in the House did not depend on a single writer or partnership to write the scripts. The writers who worked on the series are often better known for their other work. Monty Python's Graham Chapman and John Cleese and The Goodies Graham Garden and Bill Oddie were among the regular writers. Chapman and Garden both trained as doctors. Graeme Garden also appeared as a "Television Presenter" in the episode "Doctor on the Box".

While keeping mostly to the conventions of the situation comedy genre, the shows occasionally stretched the boundaries of what was seen on television. One script by Cleese called for Michael Upton to rip away a woman's dress in a single movement (she was hiding a key he needed in her cleavage). A script by Garden and Oddie included a scene played out using cartoon drawings of the performers, in the style of a teenage romance magazine, while the actors voiced their lines.

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