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Expert, The (1968-71, 1976)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Expert, The (1968-71, 1976)
BBC, 05/07/1968-26/11/1976
62 x 45/50 min episodes in 4 series, colour
Directors includeBen Rea
 Gerald Blake
 Gerard Glaister
 Prudence Fitzgerald
ProducerGerard Glaister
 Andrew Osborn
CreatorGerard Glaister
 N.J. Crisp

Cast: Marius Goring (Dr/Professor John Hardy); Ann Morrish (Jo Hardy); Victor Winding (Det Chief Insp Fleming); Michael Farnsworth (Det Sgt Ashe); Valerie Murray (Sandra Hughes); Sally Nesbitt (Jane Carter); Virginia Stride (Susan Bartlett)

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The professional and personal life of a Home Office pathologist.

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Although hospitals and doctors' surgeries have provided the mainstay for TV medical drama, the genre has encompassed a number of other branches of the profession. The Expert (BBC, 1968-74), starring veteran actor Marius Goring as a Home Office pathologist, blended forensic enquiry, autopsies and traditional police work to theatrical effect.

Goring played the slightly prickly Dr John Hardy, whose wife, played by Ann Morrish, was a practising GP with a more friendly bedside manner than her irascible husband. This pairing of allied opposites enabled writers to cross-fertilise the two disciplines and personalities to help build on-screen tensions. Black actress Valerie Murray played Goring's affable assistant Sandra Hughes.

The second season episode 'Flesh and Blood' (tx. 19/09/69) exemplifies the show's approach to storytelling. A husband tells his GP (Morrish) that he is worried his 10-year-old son may not be his child. He wants blood tests done to confirm his suspicions. These initially prove inconclusive, but a further test conducted by Goring on a blood sample from the boy's mother reveals that he is not her child. A police investigation uncovers the truth: her child died soon after birth and the distraught mother stole a replacement baby from an orphanage while her husband was posted overseas in the army. The husband's distrust results in the boy being taken in to care and his wife arrested.

The BBC appointed a technical advisor, Professor John Glaister, a former professor of forensic medicine and public health at the University of Glasgow, to ensure The Expert maintained a high level of authenticity. The forensic pathologist, writer and barrister Bernard Knight - best known for recovering all twelve bodies in the Fred West case in Gloucester in 1994 - contributed several storylines, as well as penning a tie-in novel. Knight also contributed scripts and acted as technical advisor to District Nurse (BBC, 1983-87) and Bergerac (BBC 1981-91).

Anthony Clark

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Video Clips
1. Blood test (4:45)
2. 10 years ago (3:58)
3. 'It's impossible' (2:58)
Complete episode: 'Flesh and Blood' (45:12)
Cracker (1993-95, 1996, 2006)
Police Surgeon (1960)
Glaister, Gerard (1915-2005)
Goring, Marius (1912-1998)
Medical Drama