AJ Cronin

Will Cronin’s casebook series return with Richard Madden as Dr Finlay?

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Di Cronin, grand-daughter of AJ Cronin, was in Dumbarton. Picture by Bill Heaney.

By Bill Heaney

Madden Richard 2Talks are underway between a TV production company and the literary executor of AJ Cronin, the Cardross-born GP turned best-selling author, who created Dr Finlay’s Casebook.

Once a staple Sunday night viewing for millions in the Sixties, there is now media speculation that Dr Finlay’s Casebook could be set for a makeover with Bodyguard star Richard Madden, pictured right,  as Dr Finlay himself.

Di Cronin, the great man’s grand-daughter, was in Dumbarton this week when she visited the old Dumbarton Academy within the Burgh Hall in Church Street, where her grandfather was once a pupil.

Cronin went on to study at St Aloysius College in Glasgow and the University of Glasgow where he graduated in medicine.  She also visited Dumbarton Library in Strathleven Place and the site of the old Hatter’s shop in the High Street, which was at the centre of AJ Cronin’s most successful novel, Hatter’s Castle.

Di was also shown photographs of Casci’s Café in Church Street, which Cronin frequented after school, and made a brief visit to St Patrick’s Church in Strathleven Place.

And then, in the company of Professor Frank Dunn, an expert on Cronin, and consultant surgeon, Dumbarton-born Bernard Ferrie, took a stroll along the Quay where she saw Dumbarton Rock and the old Dumbarton Bridge.

And where the distant floodlights in the shadow of the Rock marked the new home of Dumbarton FC, which Cronin followed all his life from the days when he was lifted over the turnstiles at Boghead to support The Sons of the Rock.

Earlier, Di Cronin had met Frances Slorach, the grand-daughter of Dr Cameron Slorach, the Dumbarton GP on whom the character of Dr Cameron in Dr Finlay’s Casebook was based.

And she visited Dr Slorach’s grave in Dumbarton Cemetery before making her way to Willlowbrook, the house where Cronin lived next door to Miller’s Farm in Round Riding Road.


AJ Cronin with his own family and a scene from Dr Finlay’s Casebook.

The West Dunbartonshire Library Services heritage staff, including Sarah Christie, Jo Sherrington and Mary Frances McGlynn, had done their homework for the visit.

And had all the books, photographs, maps and other items relating to AJ Cronin on display and ready for examination by Di Cronin, who is married to Michael Platz and has two children, Christine and Andrew, both of whom have Cronin as their name.

Di and her husband live in Toronto and spend the winter in Miami, Florida.

She was first in Dumbarton in 1975 in the company of her grandfather who was “making a pilgrimage” to Dalchenna Farm in Inverary, which is where he wrote Hatter’s Castle during a period of ill health.

The Cronins stayed for the duration of their holiday at Inverary Castle with the Duke and Duchess of Argyll.

Di’s father, Patrick Cronin, was a cardiologist who became the Dean of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal before moving to Switzerland, where he was consultant to the Aga Khan and involved in the AK Foundation, a charity for research into heart disease, and her mother was Shirley-Gian Robertson – “a good Scottish name”.

Di herself was a researcher in neurology at McGill before moving into funding with a healthcare charity.

Disappointingly, Bailie Denis Agnew, the convener, nor any member of West Dunbartonshire’s the Arts and Culture Committee, was present to welcome Ms Cronin to Dumbarton, the town her grandfather repeatedly told the world he loved so well.

Diane 7She told me, as we travelled around together, that talks were taking place to have Dr Finlay’s Casebook reproduced for cinema or television and was interested to know about the BBC Scotland at Gooseholm, where so many successful series and short films have been produced.

She later told Maggie Ritchie, of the Scottish Daily Mail, that she was “really excited about Dr Finlay’s Casebook being introduced to a whole new generation of viewers.

“I love the idea of Netflix picking it up – it would be perfect for binge-viewing,” she said. “I would love to see Richard Madden as Dr Finlay, who was played from the outset of the original series by actor Bill Simpson.”

Later, on Tuesday evening, Di Cronin attended a symposium on the life and works of AJ Cronin in the University of Glasgow hosted by the Chancellor, Professor Sir Kenneth Calman.  The speakers at the event in the Hunterian Museum were Professor Dunn, who presented a biography of AJ Cronin; Professor Dame Anna F Dominiczak, who spoke about the ground-breaking work taking place today in the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, and Professor Gerard Carruthers, Head of Scottish Literature, who spoke about the complete works of AJ Cronin.

  • The Democrat hopes to be able to bring you a full and interesting report of the university event in the near future. And there will be more pictures in an upcoming post.

One comment

  1. Quite outrageous that neither Baillie Agnew nor anyone else from the Arts and Culture committee turned up. Unbelievable.

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