Iain Cuthbertson

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Iain Cuthbertson
Cuthbertson as Charles Endell
Born(1930-01-04)4 January 1930
Glasgow, Scotland
Died4 September 2009(2009-09-04) (aged 79)
Ayr, Scotland
Years active1955-2003
(m. 1964; div. 1988)
  • Janet Smith

Iain Cuthbertson (4 January 1930 – 4 September 2009) was a Scottish character actor and theatre director. He was known for his tall imposing build and also his distinctive gravelly, heavily accented voice. He had lead roles in The Borderers (1968–70),Tom Brown's Schooldays (1971), Budgie (1971–72), its spinoff Charles Endell Esquire (1979–80), Danger UXB (1979) and Sutherland's Law (1973–76), as well as the films The Railway Children (1970), and Gorillas in the Mist (1988). He guest starred in many prominent British shows including The Avengers, Dr. Finlay's Casebook, The Onedin Line, Survivors, Ripping Yarns, Doctor Who, Z-Cars, Juliet Bravo, Rab C. Nesbitt, Minder, Inspector Morse and Agatha Christie's Poirot.

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. He moved to Aberdeen with his family and attended 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 at 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.[2]

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

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 Bowman Johnson[3][4] He played William Wallace in the Edinburgh International Festival production of Sydney Goodsir Smith's play, The Wallace, in August 1960, giving what the playwright Robert McLellan described as "one of the few great performances in the history of the Scottish Theatre".[5]

In 1965 he became Associate Director of London's Royal Court Theatre.[6]

Television career[edit]

His most memorable television role was as the eponymous Procurator Fiscal in the long running Sutherland's Law, 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 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),[7] Children of the Stones (HTV/ITV, 1977), The Voyage of Charles Darwin, Danger UXB (Thames Television/ITV, 1979), The House With Green Shutters[8] (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).[9] 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, The Adventures of 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. His his second wife, Janet Smith, survived him.[10]

From 1975 to 1978, he served as Rector of the University of Aberdeen.[10] 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, owing to a fear of forgetting and/or stumbling on lines, he was still able to take parts in films and television. He died in 2009 at Ayr Hospital and was cremated.[11]



Year Film Role Director Notes
1970 The Railway Children Charles Waterbury Lionel Jeffries
1972 Up the Chastity Belt Teutonic Knight Bob Kellett
1984 John Wycliffe: The Morning Star Chancellor Rigg Tony Tew
1985 The Assam Garden Arthur Mary McMurray
1986 Smart Money Mr. Whyte Bernard Rose
1988 Gorillas in the Mist Dr. Louis Leakey Michael Apted
1989 Scandal Lord Hailsham Michael Caton-Jones
1989 The Clouds Voice Patrick Keiller Short film
1991 Let Him Have It Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe Peter Medak
1994 Chasing the Deer Tullibardine Graham Holloway
1998 The Tichborne Claimant Dr. McKechnie David Yates
2001 Strictly Sinatra Connolly Peter Capaldi
2003 Hamlet Ghost Michael Mundell


Year Title Role Notes
1957 The Boy David Goliath of Gath Television film
1959 Guilty Together Jock Macdonald Television film
1960 Para Handy - Master Mariner Hurricane Jack 1.03 "A Happy New Year"
1960 ITV Play of the Week Judd 6.14 "The Accomplices"
1962 BBC Sunday-Night Play Provost Thomson 3.24 "Storm in a Teacup"
1966 The Wednesday Play Major Mallet 1.63 "Toddler on the Run"
1966 Adam Adamant Lives! Colonel Mannering 1.16 "D for Destruction"
1966 ITV Sunday Night Drama Aegetes 1.12 "Four Triumphant: St Andrew"
1966 This Man Craig Campbell Maddox 2.13 "Fresh Off the Boat"
1967 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Dr. Markham 1.05 "Crabbe's Practice"
1968-1970 The Borderers Sir Walter Ker of Cessford 26 episodes
1969 The Avengers Kruger 7.27 "Thingumajig"
1969 Mogul King Watt 5.24 "This Place Is a Paradise, Mister"
1969 ITV Playhouse Mr. Campbell QC 2.37 "Justice Is a Woman"
1970 Department S Kendall 2.15 "Spencer Bodily Is Sixty Years Old"
1970 Manhunt Helldorf 1.10 "With a Sort of Love"
1970 Thirty-Minute Theatre William Stead 5.30 "Lilly: Part 1"
5.31 "Lilly: Part 2"
1970 Diamond Crack Diamond Mark Terson 4 episodes
1971 Dr. Finlay's Casebook The Provost 8.16 "The Burgess Ticket"
1971-1972 Budgie Charlie Endell 24 episodes
1971 Tom Brown's Schooldays Dr. Thomas Arnold Television miniseries
1971 The Onedin Line Captain Kirkwood 1.11 "Mutiny"
1972 The Stone Tape Roy Collinson Television film
1972 The Adventures of Black Beauty Sergeant Major Fletcher 1.15 "The Recruiting Sergeant"
1973 The New Road Colonel Barisdale 1.02 "Col-of-the-Tricks"
1.03 "A Kistful of Muskets"
1973 Scotch on the Rocks Chief Constable Blair 4 episodes
1973-1976 Sutherland's Law John Sutherland 46 episodes
1973 The Protectors Wyatt 2.06 "Petard"
1973 Arthur of the Britons Bavick 2.09 "Daughter of the King"
1974 Play for Today Headmaster 4.17 "Pidgeon: Hawk or Dove?"
1974 ITV Sunday Night Theatre The Doctor 6.07 "Geography of a Horse Dreamer"
1974 The Pallisers Major Mackintosh 1.14 "Part Fourteen"
1976 Caesar and Cleopatra Rufio Television film
1977 Children of the Stones Rafael Hendrick / Sir Joshua Litten Television miniseries
1977 The Ghosts of Motley Hall Godfrey of Basingstoke 2.04 "Godfrey of Basingstoke"
1977 Survivors McAlister 3.12 "Power"
1977 The Duchess of Duke Street Vicar 2.04 "Winter Lament"
2.12 "The Legion of the Living"
1977 Ripping Yarns Dr. Farson 1.04 "Murder at Moorstones Manor"
1977 The Sunday Drama Gilbert Neilson 1.14 "Caledonian Cascade"
1978 Play for Today Richard Cleaver 8.15 "Destiny"
1978 The Standard Sir Henry Lockwood 1.07 "The Name of the Game"
1978 Doctor Who Garron 16.01 "The Ribos Operation"
1978 Z Cars Det. Chief Supt. Stanworth 13.02 "Departures"
1978 The Voyage of Charles Darwin Dr. Robert Darwin 1.01 "I Was Considered a Very Ordinary Boy"
1.03 "How Wide Was the Distance Between Savage and Civilised Man"
1.06 "Suppose That All Animals and All Plants Are Represented by the Branches of a Tree - The Tree of Life"
1979 Danger UXB Doctor Gillespie 6 episodes
1979 The Mourning Brooch Dicky Doig Television miniseries
1979 ITV Playhouse Julian Karswell 11.09 Casting the Runes
1979-1980 Charles Endell, Esq Charlie Endell 6 episodes
1979 The Dick Francis Thriller: The Racing Game Lankester 1.05 "Horsenap"
1980 We, the Accused Inspector Boltro Television miniseries
1980 The Dick Emery Christmas Show: For Whom the Jingle Bells Toll Jock 'The Razor' Fraser Television film
1981 The Walls of Jericho Alexander Russell 1.01 "Oh, Sophia!"
1.02 "Order of Battle"
1.03 "Sunshine and Storm"
1981 Vice Versa Dr. Grimstone 7 episodes
1982 Rep J.C. Benton Television miniseries
1983 Storyboard Editor 1.06 "Lytton's Diary"
1984 The Glory Boys Minister 1.03 "Episode Three"
1984 Juliet Bravo Defence Counsel 5.07 "Lost and Found"
1985 Off Peak Dick Corbett Television film
1985-1987 Super Gran The Scunner Campbell 27 episodes
1986 First Among Equals Colin Dawson 1.02 "Episode Two"
1986 The Return of the Antelope Dr. McMurdo 2.02 "Philippa's Brave Deed"
1986 The Stamp of Greatness Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1.01 "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes"
1987 Bulman Desmond Geraldine 2.02 "Death by Misadventure"
1987 The Venus de Milo Instead Headmaster Television film
1987 A Perfect Spy Makepeace Watermaster 1.01 "Episode One"
1988 Hannay Sheriff Elliston 1.05 "Act of Riot"
1988 Ten Great Writers of the Modern World Mynheer Peeperkorn 1.05 "Thomas Mann's 'The Magic Mountain'"
1988 The Ray Bradbury Theatre Prosecuting Counsel 2.07 "Punishment Without Crime"
1988 Rab C. Nesbitt Drunk Man 1.01 "Seasonal Greet"
1989 Minder Bernard McKenna 7.06 "The Wrong Goodbye"
1989 The Justice Game Jack Flynn 4 episodes
1989 Screenplay Seer of Lublin 4.08 "The Spirit of Man"
Segment: "The Night of Simhat Torah"
1989 Hard Cases Magistrate 2.07 "Episode Seven"
1989 City Lights Dr. Davis 4.02 "Play It Again, Willie"
1990 Campion Brett Savanake 2.01 "Sweet Danger"
1990 Inspector Morse Desmond McNutt 4.04 "Masonic Mysteries"
1990 Rab C. Nesbitt Sheriff 1.03 "City of Culture"
1990-1991 Screenplay Edgar / Julian Vlad 5.02 "Antonia and Jane"
5.12 "Shoot the Revolution"
1992 Rab C. Nesbitt Judge 2.04 "That's Entertainment"
1992 The Guilty Lord Chancellor Television film
1993 Agatha Christie's Poirot Gervase Chevenix 5.07 "Dead Man's Mirror"
1994 Headhunters Malcolm Standish 1.01 "The Golden Hello"
1994 Moonacre Father Francis 6 episodes
1994 Seaforth Lord Scawton Television miniseries
1995 Oliver's Travels Davidson 1.05 "Do We Look Like That?"
1995 The Tales of Para Handy Angus Monroe 2.02 "Para Handy's Piper"
1995 Casualty Dermot Needle 10.16 "Castles in the Air"
1997 Painted Lady Charles Stafford Television miniseries
1997 The Baldy Man 2.03 "Barbecue: China Doll"
1999 Casualty Albert 14.01 "Calm Before the Storm: Part One"
14.02 "Calm Before the Storm: Part Two"
2000 Brotherly Love Robert MacDougall 1.05 "Art and Soul"



  1. ^ "Obituary: Iain Cuthbertson". The Scotsman. 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. ^ McLellan, Robert, Review of The Wallace, in Thomson, David Cleghorn (ed.), Saltire Review, Vol. 6, No. 22, Autumn 1960, The Saltire Society, Edinburgh, pp. 75 - 77
  6. ^ Custom byline text:  Chris Watt (8 September 2009). "Tributes as actor Iain Cuthbertson dies aged 79". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Iain Cuthbertson: Actor who played the procurator-fiscal in 'Sutherland's Law' and Charlie Endell in 'Budgie'". The Independent. London. 11 September 2009.
  8. ^ "The House with the Green Shutters". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. 16 April 2009. Archived from the original on 29 January 2009. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  9. ^ Evans, Jeff (1995). The Guinness Television Encyclopedia. Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 506. ISBN 0-85112-744-4.
  10. ^ a b Gaughan, Gavin (11 September 2009). "Iain Cuthbertson - Scottish actor - Obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Iain Cuthbertson: Actor who played the procurator-fiscal in 'Sutherland's Law' and Charlie Endell in 'Budgie'". The Independent. 11 September 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Radio Plays 1945-1997: Serials, DIVERSITY website - radio drama, plays". Suttonelms.org.uk. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  13. ^ "Bruce Stewart radio drama - DIVERSITY WEBSITE". Suttonelms.org.uk. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  14. ^ "BBC Radio 7 - Shakespeare - Twelfth Night". BBC. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2012.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by Rector of the University of Aberdeen
Succeeded by