1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 1 (UK)
160 x 30 minute episodes
Debuting on Wednesday 19 November 1969, The Doctors was the first BBC twice-weekly serial made in colour and concerned a group of doctors, nurses and health visitors working in a group practice in the Islington area of London.
It was to be modern, authentic and serious, and Fay Weldon and Elaine Morgan were among the writers. No love affairs between the doctors, no antiseptic sentimentality as in Dr Kildare or Emergency – Ward 10. Instead, predictably, it bore the stamp of pre-EastEnders BBC worthiness.
But the trio of fraught doctors was instantly liked by audiences of up to 8 million.
John Barrie was believably grave as crusty pipe-smoking Dr John Somers, Richard Leach (who was really a doctor before becoming an actor) was much praised as the strained Dr Roger Hayman (with neurotic wife) and Justine Lord was soon tagged ‘the sexiest woman on television’, playing the crisp, efficient, slim and sophisticated blonde Dr Liz McNeal, in love with a married sociology lecturer.
Nigel Stock joined them in the second year as an old-style Welsh GP.
Seasoned actors kept appointments as patients. Then in the manner successfully used later in St Elsewhere, three or four longer storylines (occasionally mentioning ladies unmentionable bits) mostly touching on social problems, were wrapped up over two or three weeks.
Dr John Somers
Dr Roger Hayman
Dr Elizabeth McNeal
Dr Bill Conrad
Sir Robert McNeal