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The Flying Doctors is an Australian drama series produced by Crawford Productions that revolved around the everyday lifesaving efforts of the real Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

It was initially a 1985 mini-series based in the fictional outback town of Cooper's Crossing starring Andrew McFarlane as the newly arrived Dr. Tom Callaghan. The success of the mini series led it its return the following year as an on-going series with McFarlane being joined by a new doctor, Chris Randall, played by Liz Burch. McFarlane left after the first season and actor Robert Grubb came in as new doctor Geoff Standish.

The series' episodes were mostly self-contained but also featured ongoing storylines, such as Dr. Standish's romance with nurse Kate Wellings (Lenore Smith). Other major characters included pilot Sam Patterson (Peter O'Brien), mechanic Emma Plimpton (Rebecca Gibney), local policeman Sgt. Jack Carruthers (Terry Gill) and Vic and Nancy Buckley (Maurie Fields and Val Jellay), who ran the local pub/hotel, the Majestic. Andrew McFarlane also later returned to the series, resuming his role as Dr. Callaghan. The popular series ran for many seasons and was successfully screened internationally.

Cast and characters


  • Andrew McFarlane played Tom Callaghan, a young doctor who takes over the R.F.D.S base in Coopers Crossing after proving himself to the original boss of the base, Harry Sinclair. He brings along Chris Randall, who is also a doctor, as his assistant. In episode sixteen Tom leaves the base, volunteering for World Vision in Africa. He returns in episode 113, staying until episode 156. Tom makes a final appearance in episode 201 when there is a town celebration in Coopers Crossing.

  • Liz Burch played Chris Randall, a female doctor who comes along with Tom Callaghan to run the R.F.D.S base in Cooper Crossing. When Tom leaves for Africa she decides to stay in Coopers Crossing, remaining until episode 146, when she moves to Melbourne to take care of her sick father. Returns in episode 201 for the town celebration, and falls in love with Tom Callaghan again. She decides to join Tom in Africa.

  • Robert Grubb played Geoff Standish, who makes his first appearance in episode 17 when he takes over the R.F.D.S base from Tom Callaghan. Geoff is one of the longest-running characters in the series, and stayed until the end. His relationship with Nurse Kate Wellings was a key storyline.

  • Sarah Chadwick played Rosie 'Rowie' Lang. She makes her first appearance in "Swinging on the Rope", when she returns to Cooper's Crossing since leaving as a teenager to attend Medical School at the University of Sydney. Dr. Lang is the replacement for Dr. Radcliffe. She is a headstrong, determined woman, applying for a position with the RFDS to comfront childhood bullies, and show them that "being a Lang doesn't mean being a loser", after having grown up as the youngest of 6 children (and the only girl), to alcoholic, neglectful parents. Despite her late arrival, Sarah is given a rich character-profile, the series featuring episodes in which both her older brother Frank and her father Alf appear.

She attracts tromanctic interest from Captain Johnno Johnson. Rowie eventually accepts his proposal of marriage. Her doubts increase as the day of the wedding draw closer, realising that she is marrying Johnno to make up for the less than ideal marriage her mother experienced. Rosie calls off the wedding as the RFDS cars are proceeding to the airstrip where the guests are waiting for the service.

Call signs

One prominent feature in the show is the communication between the aircraft and the base station in Cooper's Crossing. Their designations are spelled out using the NATO phonetic alphabet.
  • MSF, or Mike Sierra Foxtrot, is the aircraft. It's a GAF Nomad. Registration VH-MSF
  • VCC, or Victor Charlie Charlie, is the RFDS base at Coopers Crossing.


By 1993, the ratings were in decline and few original characters remained in the much-changed cast. To revamp the show the setting was changed to Broken Hillmarker, the name changed to R.F.D.S., and of the cast only original cast members Fields and Jellay were retained in the show. The storyline had their characters, formerly publicans at the Cooper's Crossing pub, moving to Broken Hill. The show lasted just one season in this new incarnation.

Most recently the Australian Pay-TV channel FOX Classics has secured the rights to the program from July 3 2006.The Flying Doctors have returned for a Re run Free To Air channel Win Television from August 17 2007 Time 12pm-1.00pmWeekdays only .

Filming locations

The series was filmed at:

See also


External links

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