Iain Cuthbertson: Actor who played the procurator-fiscal in 'Sutherland's Law' and Charlie Endell in 'Budgie'

The actor Iain Cuthbertson brought his towering, 6ft 41/2in stature and commanding presence to two very different television roles, on both sides of the law, in the 1970s. As Charlie Endell in Budgie, he was the suave Glaswegian gangster on the streets of London's Soho, employing the petty criminal of the title – played by the pop star-turned-actor Adam Faith – to do his dirty work and, sometimes, setting him up as a fall guy. Endell was the Mr Big to Budgie's bungling, lovable rogue, who had just been let out of prison. "There are two things ah hate in life, Budgie," the hood told his runner, "an' you're both of them!"

Budgie (1971-72), which was created by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, and ran to two series, was essentially a comedy-drama before the term had been coined. Verity Lambert, who produced it, saw it as an opportunity to give the criminals their say on screen after years of so many police dramas. Cuthbertson later revived his character, back on the streets of Glasgow after a stretch in jail, but without Budgie, in the short-lived spin-off Charles Endell Esquire (1979-80).

In between, he had another lead role, as a procurator-fiscal – who in Scotland makes decisions on whether to bring prosecutions – in a small, west coast Scottish fishing village for 44 episodes of Sutherland's Law (1973-76). John Sutherland was a dour character who frequently had to investigate further cases brought to him by the local police, and the gentle drama and beautiful locations, around Oban, proved popular with viewers.

"I approve of Sutherland," the actor enthused. "He's not a cardboard figure. Although, like many who work out other people's problems, he's not too good at sorting out his own life. But these fiscals are extraordinary. They are paid less than their colleagues in private practice, yet there's no evidence of corruption. They are dedicated men."

Cuthbertson was born in Glasgow in 1930, the son of Sir David Cuthbertson, a biochemist among the team that invented the saline drip. He attended Glasgow Academy and Aberdeen Grammar School before gaining an MA in languages from the University of Aberdeen.

After National Service in the Black Watch, Cuthbertson joined BBC radio in Glasgow as a journalist, then switched to acting, both on radio and the stage. At Glasgow Citizens' Theatre, he played Proctor in The Crucible and Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (both 1958), and the title role in Othello (1959). Then came good reviews for his performance as William Wallace in The Wallace, by Sydney Goodsir Smith, at the 1960 Edinburgh Festival. Two years later, he returned to the Citizens' Theatre (1962-65) as general manager and director of productions.

After becoming associate director at London's Royal Court Theatre, where he played Musgrave in Serjeant Musgrave's Dance (1965), Cuthbertson found himself in a stand-off with the Lord Chamberlain's Office, which was then the official censor of stage plays in Britain. It refused to grant a licence, without various cuts, to the Edward Bond play Saved (1965), which included the stoning to death of a baby.

Cuthbertson was cautioned by police during violent scenes at the Royal Court, which attempted to sidestep legislation by turning itself into a private members' club. This case, and the banning of Bond's subsequent play, Early Morning, were instrumental in leading to the 1968 Theatres Act's abolition of the archaic censorship law.

By then, Cuthbertson was making an impression on television, having made his début in an episode of BBC Scotland's Para Handy – Master Mariner (1960). Later, in The Borderers (1968-70), he played Sir Walter Ker of Cessford, the warden settling disputes between lawless neightbours on the Anglo-Scottish border in the 16th century. He acted another authority figure, the headmaster Dr Arnold, in a five-part adaptation of Tom Brown's Schooldays (1971), followed by the role of Chief Constable Blair in the Scottish revolutionary thriller-fantasy series Scotch on the Rocks (1973), based on the book by Andrew Osmond and the future Conservative MP Douglas Hurd. In Danger UXB (1979), the Second World War bomb-disposal thriller series, he was seen as the scientist Doctor Gillespie.

Cuthbertson also enjoyed a young following by appearing in two popular children's programmes. He played Rafael Hendrick, trying to tap into the ancient power of a 4,000-year-old stone circle, in the adventure serial Children of the Stones (1977) and the villain Scunner Campbell, constantly thwarted by the old woman with magical powers (Gudrun Ure), in Supergran (1985-87). The actor also gave a particularly boisterous performance as the con-man from Earth, Garron, trying to sell off the medieval planet of Ribos, in the Doctor Who story "The Ribos Operation" (1978).

In the cinema, Cuthbertson will be remembered as the wrongly imprisoned father stepping off a train amid clearing steam on returning to his family in the director Lionel Jeffries's much loved screen version of The Railway Children (1970). His other film roles included recreations of real-life people – Dr Louis Leakey, the anthropologist who inspired Dian Fossey to study endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda, in Gorillas in the Mist (1988), Lord Hailsham in Scandal (1989) and Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, the Home Secretary who refused clemency to commute Derek Bentley's controversial death sentence in Let Him Have It (1991).

A stroke in 1982 left Cuthbertson paralysed and unable to speak, but he fought back within 18 months to act again, but not on stage. On television he played several parts in Rab C Nesibitt (1988-92), Jack Flynn in The Justice Game (1989) and the Lord Chancellor in the mini-series The Guilty (1992). Cuthbertson, who was rector of Aberdeen University from 1975-78, was twice married, first to the actress Anne Kristen. He had no children.

Anthony Hayward

Iain Cuthbertson, actor: born Glasgow 4 January 1930; married Anne Kristen (divorced 1988), 1997 Mary Smith; died Glasgow 4 September 2009.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

£350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

£35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment