Iain Cuthbertson

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Iain Cuthbertson
Iain Cuthbertson.jpg
Born(1930-01-04)4 January 1930
Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Died4 September 2009(2009-09-04) (aged 79)
Years active1955-2003
Spouse(s)Anne Kristen (1964-1988)
Janet Mary Smith

Iain Cuthbertson (4 January 1930 – 4 September 2009) was a Scottish character actor. He was known for his tall imposing build and also his distinctive "gravelly" heavily accented voice.

Early life[edit]

Born in 1930, the son of the biochemist Sir David Cuthbertson, and brought up in Glasgow, he was educated at Glasgow Academy, Aberdeen Grammar School and the University of Aberdeen (where he graduated with an MA honours degree in French and Spanish).[1] His first break as an actor was on radio while studying at Aberdeen University.

He spent two years' national service in the Black Watch. During that time he was ordered to act as prisoner's friend at the court martial of a soldier accused of appearing late on parade, and then assaulting his superior officer when he eventually did turn up. He managed to get the soldier cleared of the more serious charge. The soldier's comment afterwards was "Thanks awfully fur pretendin ah didnae dae it sur".[2]

His original wish was for a job in the Foreign Office, but he became a radio journalist with the BBC in Glasgow.

Theatre career[edit]

Cuthbertson started acting at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre in 1958 and became General Manager and Director of Productions in 1962. In that year the theatre hosted an exhibition of work by the artist Stewart Bowmn Johnson [3][4] Three years later he became Associate Director of London's Royal Court Theatre.[5]

Television career[edit]

His most memorable television role was as the eponymous Procurator Fiscal in the long running Sutherland's Law.

Sutherland's Law is a television series made by BBC Scotland between 1973 and 1976.

The series had originated as a stand-alone edition of the portmanteau programme Drama Playhouse in 1972 in which Derek Francis played Sutherland and was then commissioned as an ongoing series. The producer was Frank Cox.

Sutherland's Law dealt with the duties of the Procurator Fiscal in a small Scottish town. The major cast members included Iain Cuthbertson (as John Sutherland), Gareth Thomas, Moultrie Kelsall, Victor Carin, Martin Cochrane, Maev Alexander and Edith MacArthur.

A rather different achievement was his portrayal of the criminal and businessman Charlie Endell in both Budgie (London Weekend Television/ITV) with Adam Faith (1971–72) and its sequel Charles Endell Esquire (Scottish Television/ITV) in 1979.

Other roles include the lead in The Borderers (BBC, 1968–70), Tom Brown's Schooldays (BBC, 1971) (as Thomas Arnold), The Stone Tape (BBC, 1972),[6] Children of the Stones (HTV/ITV, 1977), The Voyage of Charles Darwin, Danger UXB (Thames Television/ITV, 1979), The House With Green Shutters[7] (BBC, 1980). He appeared in the pilot episode of Rab C Nesbitt (1988) as a magistrate.

He suffered a crippling stroke in January 1982, which forced him to give up theatre for fear of forgetting his lines. He resumed television and film work, though, as his lines could be written on crib boards.[3] His first role following his stroke was as the villainous Scunner Campbell in Super Gran (Tyne Tees Television/ITV, 1985).[8] In 1989 he played the villain Brett Savernake in the episode of Campion entitled "Sweet Danger".

Minor parts in ongoing series include appearances in Z-Cars (BBC), The Avengers (ABC/ITV), Inspector Morse (Central Television/ITV), Bulman (Granada Television/ITV), Ripping Yarns (BBC), The Duchess of Duke Street, Colonel Mannering in Adam Adamant Lives! story D For Destruction (1966) and Garron in the Doctor Who story The Ribos Operation. He also appeared in: Diamond Crack Diamond, The Onedin Line (BBC), Survivors (BBC), Scotch on the Rocks, Black Beauty (London Weekend/ITV), Minder (ITV), The Ghosts of Motley Hall (Granada/ITV), Juliet Bravo (BBC), Casualty (BBC), The Mourning Brooch, Casting the Runes and McPhee the Mother and Me.

On film, he appeared as Charles Waterbury in The Railway Children (1970).

Personal life[edit]

Cuthbertson's first marriage, to Anne Kristen in 1964, was dissolved in 1988. He is survived by his second wife, Janet Smith.[9]

From 1975 to 1978, he served as Rector of the University of Aberdeen.[9] He listed his hobbies as sailing and fishing, and, after retiring, he lived in Dalrymple, Ayrshire.

He suffered a severe stroke in 1982, which caused paralysis down one side of his body and speech loss. It took him almost two years to recover sufficiently to be able to act again. Although he avoided live theatre work thereafter, due to a fear of forgetting and/or stumbling on lines, he was still able to take parts in films and TV. He died in 2009.[1]




  1. ^ "Obituary: Iain Cuthbertson". Scotsman.com. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  2. ^ Sunday Post 1973
  3. ^ a b Gray, Sadie. "Obituary - The Times". The Times.
  4. ^ "Citizens Theatre". Citz.co.uk. 11 September 1945. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  5. ^ Custom byline text:  Chris Watt (8 September 2009). "Tributes as actor Iain Cuthbertson dies aged 79". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Iain Cuthbertson: Actor who played the procurator-fiscal in 'Sutherland's Law' and Charlie Endell in 'Budgie'". The Independent. London. 11 September 2009.
  7. ^ "The House With The Green Shutters". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  8. ^ Evans, Jeff (1995). The Guinness Television Encyclopedia. Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 506. ISBN 0-85112-744-4.
  9. ^ a b Gaughan, Gavin (11 September 2009). "Iain Cuthbertson - Scottish actor - Obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Radio Plays 1945-1997: Serials, DIVERSITY website - radio drama, plays". Suttonelms.org.uk. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Bruce Stewart radio drama - DIVERSITY WEBSITE". Suttonelms.org.uk. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  12. ^ "BBC Radio 7 - Shakespeare - Twelfth Night". Bbc.co.uk. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2012.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Michael Barratt
Rector of the University of Aberdeen
Succeeded by
Sandy Gall