Police Surgeon – ‘Dr. Brent’s Casebook’ – New Book Reveals The Compelling Story Behind The Almost Forgotten Series That Led To The Creation Of A Television Legend – The Avengers
The series that launched the career of Ian Hendry and subsequently inspired the creation of a television legend – The Avengers.
In a new book, ‘Dr Brent’s Casebook‘ tells the story of ‘Police Surgeon‘, a short-lived television series – produced in 1960 – that gave Ian Hendry (‘The Lotus Eaters’, ‘Get Carter’) his first regular starring role. It made its mark in TV history not for what it was but for what it led to – the world beating show ‘The Avengers‘.
Unlike its illustrious successor, ‘Police Surgeon‘ has faded from public memory and has rarely been revisited for the purposes of research or retrospective celebration.
Richard McGinlay and Alan Hayes now redress the balance. The cases of POLICE SURGEON are uncovered, described and explored, revealing information about the creation of the series, its production, transmission and narratives – including the mysterious ‘Diplomatic Immunity’, which never appeared in TV listings – and the circumstances that caused ‘Police Surgeon’ to be brought to a sudden end after just 13 weeks.
Richly illustrated by Shaqui Le Vesconte, The book is now available in hardback/ softback and digital ebook [epub format].
To find out more about this book and to place an order, please click on the link or image below:
Note: Special Discount Offer – Lulu are running a promotion that expires at 23:59 on Sunday 2nd April 2017.
Enter FWD15 at Lulu checkout (15% discount), click apply – then enter APRSHIP in the same box, click apply again and you’ll get free shipping too. You may also be interested in their other books on The Avengers [see below], for which these codes also apply.
Police Surgeon – Production
The series was created for ABC by Sydney Newman. It was first broadcast in September 1960 and starred Ian Hendry as a police surgeon who worked for the Metropolitan Police. The series was originally produced by Julian Bond who was effectively co-creator of the series having had the idea from meeting a GP in the Notting Hill area of London whilst working on another television series. This doctor also worked as a police surgeon and Bond was interested in writing a series of “low key” dramas which would be distinct from the BBC’s “police drama” output at that time in the shape of series like Dixon of Dock Green, and would deal with “social misfits”.
Sydney Newman had reservations about this concept but supported the creation of the series and Bond cast Ian Hendry in the lead role. Julian Bond felt uncomfortable as a TV producer, being more interested in the creative side and felt that he was not a robust manager. Leonard White took over as producer on the direction of Sydney Newman. A generous commercial deal had been struck with the police surgeon who was the inspiration for the series and had financial and creative rights in the series, aside from the script writing and just before the first episode was to be transmitted legal action was threatened by this individual, unless he could write the scripts and ABC television’s legal department became involved. The series ran for merely 13 episodes and was then cancelled by Sydney Newman. It is possible that the reason for this was the legal and financial disputes surrounding the original concept, as The Avengers appears to have been devised as a hasty replacement that could also serve as a vehicle for its star, Ian Hendry.
When Police Surgeon was cancelled, Newman took both Hendry and co-star Ingrid Hafner to this series, and this may be why it is sometimes mistakenly claimed that The Avengers was a direct sequel to Police Surgeon, with Hendry playing the same character in both. Although there were similarities, this was in fact not the case. This myth has possibly been encouraged because material relating to Police Surgeon is scarce, and that the first episode of The Avengers aired only one month after the final episode of Police Surgeon.
Cast and crew
John Warwick played the regular character of Inspector Langdon, and Hafner played Nurse Gibbs. Guest actors who appeared in Police Surgeon include Michael Crawford, Bernard Archard, Harry H. Corbett, Geoffrey Palmer, and Nigel Stock.
Scriptwriters included Julian Bond, who was also story editor and, initially, producer. He was succeeded as producer by Leonard White, who went on to produce The Avengers.
Only one episode of the series, “Easy Money”, featuring Michael Crawford, is known to exist. This episode was shown as part of Channel 4’s TV Heaven season, introduced by Frank Muir, on 28 March 1992.
Video above: Surviving episode, ‘Easy Money’ – Police Surgeon  – starring Ian Hendry, Michael Crawford and Ingrid Hafner.
The Avengers – Series 1 
For those interested in the very first series of The Avengers, also check out the another excellent book by Richard McGinlay, Alan Hayes and Alys Hayes. It tells the compelling story of how a new television ‘vehicle’ was created by ABC TV for the talent of Ian Hendry – after Police Surgeon series had ended. Along with Ingrid Hafner, he would be joined by his new partner in crime – Patrick Macnee who would eventually go on to play the lead in the series as the world-famous John Steed.
Picture: Ian Hendry as Dr. David Keel and Patrick Macnee as John Steed – Soho, London.
Until next time,
Editor, Official Tribute To Ian Hendry
A detailed account of the life and work of Ian Hendry in the new biography: