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Doctor in Trouble (1970)

Dr Tony Burke (Leslie Phillips) is in love with kooky fashion model Ophelia O’Brien (Angela Scoular) but doesn’t have time to propose to her as she leaves for a cruise to the Mediterranean on board the Golden Horn.

Also on-board the cruise ship is Basil Beauchamp (DJ Simon Dee in his big-screen debut), an old school chum of Burke’s who plays “Dr Dare” on a very popular television series, and to whom women flock.

Burke decides to join the cruise, but is first apprehended as a stowaway, and then becomes the Captain’s steward.

For Burke, trying to talk to Ophelia is a hard enough task, but he meets some funny characters on-board, such as loud-mouthed Welsh pools winner Llewellyn Wendover (Harry Secombe), and a very stubborn Captain (Robert Morley) – who just happens to be chief surgeon Sir Lancelot Spratt’s brother.

James Robertson Justice returns in a single scene as Sir Lancelot. It was intended for him to also play the role of his own brother, Captain George Spratt, but he had suffered a stroke and was far too ill to do much.

Director Ralph Thomas enlisted Robert Morley but still paid Roberston Justice for both parts, saying he deserved it for his loyal service.

Graham Chapman – then starring in Monty Python’s Flying Circus – flounces around as gay photographer Roddy (pictured at left); Irene Handl is a scream as the social-climbing mother of airhead stripper Dawn Dailey (Janet Mahoney) – who wants her little girl to get on in life by marrying the Captain; and Graham Stark plays Satterjee the Indian steward (yes it seems racist now, but times were different back then).

After a series of coincidences, Dr Burke lands the job as ship’s doctor. And when an SOS is received, he is sent aboard an old Polish ship to perform an appendectomy on a Polish seaman.

There his adventures become nightmares when he finds himself in the passionate arms of a tough old female sea-dog (Joan Sims). The Polish ship takes him home, but when the two ships eventually dock there are some shocks in store for everyone . . .

This was the seventh and final instalment in the ‘Doctor’ series. Adapted from Richard Gordon’s book Doctor On Toast, it is basically a hybrid of Doctor At Sea and Doctor In Clover.

By 1970, British tastes in comedy had shifted away from harmless slapstick to more adult content, including the use of profanities and nudity, hence Phillips gets to say “bastard” more than once, and we see Angela Scoular topless.

Scoular died in April 2011 after taking her own life by ingesting acid drain cleaner and pouring it on her body, causing lethal burns to her digestive tract and skin. She was just 65.

Dr Tony Burke
Leslie Phillips
Llewellyn Wendover
Harry Secombe
Sir Lancelot Spratt
James Robertson Justice
Ophelia O’Brien
Angela Scoular
Mrs Dailey
Irene Handl
Dawn Dailey
Janet Mahoney
Basil Beauchamp (Dr Dare)
Simon Dee
Captain George Spratt
Robert Morley
Freddie Jones
Russian Captain
Joan Sims
John Le Mesurier
Graham Stark
Graham Chapman
Cockney Girl
Jacki Piper
Fred Emney

Ralph Thomas