The Doctors (1963)

The Doctors (1963) Information

The Doctors is an American television soap opera which aired on NBC Daytime from April 1, 1963, to December 31, 1982. There were 5280 episodes produced, with the 5000th episode airing in November 1981. The series was set in Hope Memorial Hospital in the fictional "Madison," located somewhere in New England.

From anthology to serial

Originally, The Doctors was not supposed to be a conventional soap opera. It first aired in 1963 for a trial run as an anthology series with self-contained episodes about medical emergencies. When the show was brought back in 1964, the show adopted a serial form of storytelling. For most of the series, storylines revolved around Hope Memorial Hospital's Chief of Staff Matthew Powers (played by James Pritchett).


The Doctors was considered to be more risqué in storyline choices than its rival, General Hospital (which premiered on the same day). While the doctors on General Hospital worked in harmony with one another for the most part and in some cases were intimate friends, the physicians on The Doctors were much more cutthroat.

For example, Dr. Powers was put on trial for murder, was forced to rescind his Chief of Staff position, and became very depressed. Another doctor took over Powers' spot and immediately schemed to remove his allies, such as Dr. Althea Davis, from positions of influence in the hospital. In another storyline, one doctor's nurse found out that he killed his rival and made it look like suicide. When he discovered that she knew the truth, he tormented her every day at work until she committed suicide herself, allowing him to get away with the murder.

Other notable storylines included cancer and drugs. Doreen Aldrich (played by Jennifer Wood and then by Pamela Lincoln) suffered from leukemia, and Joan Dancy (Margaret Whitton) had an addiction to drugs which was believed to have killed her, but it was later revealed that a hospital worker framed a doctor for pulling the plug on Joan's life support machines. During the final years, one storyline centered around a woman over 60 years old who impersonated her daughter Adrienne Hunt (Nancy Stafford) by taking a special serum that would keep the old woman younger, but caused the death of Billy Aldrich (Alec Baldwin) in the process.

Awards and production

In 1972 and 1974, the serial received a Daytime Emmy for Best Drama. In the years following, announcer Mel Brandt would inform the audience at the beginning of each episode: And now, The Doctors: The (Emmy-award winning) program dedicated to the brotherhood of healing.

For most of its run, The Doctors was packaged and sponsored by the Colgate-Palmolive company through its Channelex division; in September 1980, NBC took over production in-house.

Broadcast history

The popularity of The Doctors began flourishing in the late 1960s, when it was featured in advertisements for NBC's 90-minute serial block. NBC aired the show in the timeslot of 2:30 p.m. Eastern/1:30 Central, in between Days of our Lives and Another World, two highly rated shows. The premiere of The Doctors succeeded entertainment mogul Merv Griffin's first daytime talk show, and the serial didn't leave its timeslot for nearly sixteen years. This is an extraordinary feat for daytime shows of its day, especially since some of its victims in the ratings were long-running favorites such as CBS' House Party with Art Linkletter and ABC's Dating Game. The longest-running soap opera in television history, CBS Daytime's The Guiding Light, also competed against The Doctors on several occasions.

From the late 1960s until the mid-1970s, The Doctors was among the higher-rated soap operas of its time. In the 1973"1974 television season, the show peaked at fourth place, behind CBS' As the World Turns and fellow NBC serials Days of our Lives and Another World. However, within a period of three years, The Doctors plummeted from fourth to eleventh in the ratings. The decline in ratings was partly attributed to two soaps with which The Doctors shared its timeslot: One Life to Live and Guiding Light, which expanded to an hour in consecutive years. ABC increased the running time of One Life to Live from 45 minutes to an hour in 1978; CBS expanded Guiding Light to an hour in length in 1977. In 1979, the ratings for The Doctors took another hit after NBC decided to extend the length of its own soap opera, Another World, to 90 minutes from 60. This necessitated an earlier start time for Another World, which aired at 3:00 pm at the time, and a move of The Doctors to 2:00 pm, which alienated many of the series' longtime followers. However, the ratings drop for The Doctors was not as severe, as it finished the season just two-tenths of a point lower in the Nielsen ratings. Still, the move after nearly sixteen years did cause some damage to the show's ratings, and the worst was yet to come.

In August 1980, NBC moved The Doctors to a timeslot that caused a much larger ratings decline. On August 4, 1980, The Doctors moved from 2:00 pm EST to 12:30 pm EST to make room for Texas, a spinoff of Another World. The youth-oriented Ryan's Hope on ABC and the long-running Search for Tomorrow on CBS were already being telecast in that timeslot, and several NBC affiliates preempted the entire 12:00 pm hour to air local newscasts and various other syndicated programming. As a result of the loss of affiliates and the solid performance of the other two soaps in the timeslot, The Doctors went from a 6.1 rating at the end of the 1980 season to last place, with a 3.8 rating, in 1981. Then, The Doctors finished in last place again the following year, this time with a 3.3 rating at the end of the 1981"1982 television season.

On March 29, 1982, NBC Daytime moved The Doctors for a third time in as many years. This time, the move was made to accommodate the serial's former ratings rival, Search for Tomorrow, on its schedule. Search, which previously aired in the 12:30 pm timeslot, had been moved from the timeslot in 1981 to accommodate an earlier starting time for The Young and the Restless and moved to 2:30 pm. Series producer Procter & Gamble, dissatisfied with the ratings drop, insisted on getting the show's old timeslot back, but CBS elected not to renew Search when its contract came up in early 1982. NBC was willing to give the (at the time) longest-running television soap opera the slot. In a complicated switch, Search took over for Password Plus on NBC's daytime schedule.

The Doctors was moved into the 12:00 noon slot, which Password Plus had given up once it was cancelled. Consequently, The Doctors was hit with an even greater rash of pre-emptions after relocating to the 12:00 slot than it ever did when it moved into the 12:30 slot; many more markets preempted the first half of the hour for local newscasts than they had the second half, let alone the whole hour. In markets that did air The Doctors, the ratings were further eroded by the hit game show Family Feud on ABC and the first half of The Young and The Restless, which had already become a major phenomenon in its own right, in certain time zones on CBS. Thus, the already-falling ratings for The Doctors plummeted to previously unheard of levels. NBC itself didn't help the situation; on April 26, 1982, the network moved the dying Texas, which had never done well in the ratings, to 11:00 am to serve as the lead-in for The Doctors. By the time NBC canceled the long running serial in 1982, it had reached a 1.6 in the Nielsens; this was the lowest level any soap opera had reached in the history of the rating system, breaking the record that ABC's short-lived 1970 soap, The Best of Everything, had set with a 1.8. Guiding Light would also finish its final season with a 1.6 rating in September 2009, sharing the mark with The Doctors for the lowest-rated soap in its final season.

The Doctors aired its final episode on December 31, 1982, some three months before it would have celebrated its 20th anniversary on NBC.

Proposed spin-off

House of Hope was a proposed spin-off of The Doctors in 1970. NBC Daytime picked up Somerset, the Another World spin-off, instead.


The five core characters during the series' run were:

  • James Pritchett as Dr. Matt Powers, who was Hope Memorial Hospital's chief of staff.
  • Ann Williams, Bethel Leslie, and Lydia Bruce as Dr. Maggie Fielding Van Alen Powers, Matt's wife, also a doctor.
  • David O'Brien as Dr. Steve Aldrich, a doctor who was the son of wealthy parents.
  • Carolee Campbell, and later Jada Rowland, as Carolee Simpson Allison Aldrich, Steve's wife.
  • Elizabeth Hubbard (replaced briefly by Virginia Vestoff, 1969"1970) as Dr. Althea Davis, Matt and Maggie's friend.
Several well-known actors and actresses had roles on The Doctors throughout its long run:

  • Armand Assante as Dr. Mike Powers, Matt's son from a previous marriage, also a doctor.
  • Hillary Bailey as Kit McCormick"?Doctor or nurse. Third wife of Mike Powers.
  • Jane Badler as Natalie Bell No. 2 (1981"1982)"?Natalie was Billy's Girlfriend and later Paul Reed's. Found out that Lt. Reed also killed Billy besides Felicia Hunt. Private nurse to Theodora.
  • Alec Baldwin as Billy Aldrich (1980"1982)"?Billy was married to Greta. Killed by Felicia Hunt, disguised as her daughter Adrienne.
  • Kathy Bates as Phyllis
  • Ellen Burstyn as Dr. Kate Bartok
  • Chris Calloway as Ivy Gooding Dancy (1982). Hostess of The Medicine Man. Dated Luke Dancy.
  • Richard Christopher as Dr. Mike Powers No. 3 (1967)
  • Jeannie Costigan as LeeAnn Powers (1978"1982)"?Daughter of Greta Powers and Billy Aldrich
  • Augusta Dabney as Theodora Van Alen No. 3 (1980"1981)"?Formerly Maggie's sister-in-law. Aunt of Greta Powers. Sister of Kurt.
  • Ted Danson as Dr. Mitchell Pearson (1977"1982)
  • Julia Duffy as Penny Davis (1973"1978), daughter of Althea.
  • Mark Goddard as Lt. Paul Reed (1982)"?Police Officer for Madison.
  • Dorothy Fielding as Sarah Dancy Powers No. 2 (1978"1980)"?Mike Powers's 2nd wife after Toni.
  • Thor Fields as Erich Aldrich No. 1 (1977"1981)"?Son of Steve Aldrich.
  • Jonathan Frakes as Tom Carroll, Ex-husband of M.J., died in a fire along with Virginia Dancy.
  • Jock Gaynor as Dr. William Scott (1963"1964)
  • Gil Gerard as Dr. Alan Stewart
  • Katherine Glass as Mary Jane Match No. 3 (1978"1981)
  • Mark Goddard as Lt. Paul Reed
  • Kathryn Harrold as Nola Dancy Aldrich No. 1 (1975"1977)
  • Adam Kennedy as Brock Hayden (1965)
  • Barbara Lang as Marilyn Langley (1982), Wife of James Langley
  • Louise Lasser as Jackie
  • Jean LeClerc as Dr. Jean-Marc Gautier (1982)"?A French doctor who experimented on Felicia/Adrienne Hunt and fell in love with Althea Davis at the end of the series.
  • Pamela Lincoln as Doreen Aldrich No. 2 (1977"1979) Doreen was Jason Aldrich's first wife and was at odds with Carolee, Nola and Mona on and off, thought to have leukemia but that was a lie, but after that ordeal she went insane and presumably left Madison. Former lover of Luke Dancy.
  • Franc Luz as Dr. John Bennett
  • Meg Mundy as Mona Aldrich Croft (1971"1982). Madison's wealthiest citizen, mother of Steve Aldrich and Jason Aldrich; Formerly married to Winston Croft; Grandmother of Billy, Erich, Stephanie; Great-grandmother to Jessica Aldrich and LeeAnn Powers.
  • Denise Nickerson as Katie Harris
  • Terry O'Quinn as Dr. Jerry Dancy No. 2 (1980"1982) Doctor. Son of Barney and Virginia. Brother of Luke, Sarah, Nola and Joan.
  • Petronia Paley as Dr. Jessie Rawlings
  • John Pankow as Danny Martin (1980"1982)
  • Carol Potter as Betsy Match"?Sister of Mary Jane (MJ) and Darren Match; Mother of Ricky Match
  • Victoria Racimo as Tia Mahala
  • Rex Robbins as Murray Glover
  • Brooke Shields as Elizabeth Harrington (1982)
  • Jocelyn Somers as Jessica Bartok
  • Nancy Stafford as Adrienne/Felicia Hunt (dual role) (1982)
  • Count Stovall as Dr. Hank Chambers
  • Anna Stuart as Toni Ferra Powers, a lab technician who was Mike Powers' first wife.
  • Robert Frank Telfer as Luke Dancy (1976"1982)"?The playboy son of Barney and Virginia. Brother to Jerry, Nola, Joan and Sarah; Former lover of Doreen Aldrich. Formerly Married to Missy Roberts. Dated Natalie Bell and Ivy Gooding. Co-owned restaurants Andre's and The Medicine Man.
  • Kathleen Turner as Nola Dancy Aldrich No. 2 (1977"1979)
  • Beatrice Winde as Lillian Foster"?Mother of Dr. Terri Foster (Carolyn Byrd)
  • Jennifer Wood as Doreen Aldrich No. 1 (1975"1977) First actress to play Doreen.
  • Ian Ziering as Erich Aldrich No. 2 (1981"1982)
  • Kim Zimmer as Nola Dancy Aldrich No. 3 (1980"1982)

Main crew

Some notable writers, producers and directors of The Doctors: Henry Kaplan, Dennis Brite, Douglas Marland, Frank Salisbury, Malcolm Marmorstein, Rita Lakin, Elizabeth Levin, Gerald Straub, Orvin Tovrov, Allen Potter, Joseph Stuart, Robert Costello, Leonard Kantor, Robert Pollack, David Cherrill, Peter Brash, Doris Quinlan, A.M. Barlow, Heather Matthews, Kate Brooks, Ralph Ellis and Eugenie Hunt.

Richard Christopher (JJ.Gop) played Dr. Mike Powers in 1967 while under his management with Universal Studios.

Head writers

  • Orin Tovrov, 1963 " Mid-1960s
  • Ian Martin, Mid-1960s
  • Rita Lakin, 1966 " Late 1960s
  • Rick Edelstein, Late 1960s
  • Ira Avery and Stanley H. Silverman, Late 1960s " early 1970s
  • Eileen and Robert Mason Pollock with James Lipton, 1970s"1974
  • Margaret DePriest, 1974"1975
  • Douglas Marland, 1975"1977
  • Mel Brez and Ethel Brez, 1978
  • Linda Grover, 1978
  • Elizabeth Levin and David Cherrill, 1978"1980
  • Ralph Ellis and Eugenie Hunt, 1980"1981
  • Lawrence and Ronnie Wencker-Konner, 1981
  • Aaron Scott and Anne-Marie Barlow, 1981
  • Harding Lemay and Stephen Lemay, 1981"1982
  • Elizabeth Levin, 1982
  • Barbara Morgenroth, Leonard Kantor and Betsy Tooker, 1982


Daytime Emmy Award wins

Drama series and performer categories

Category Recipient Role Year
Outstanding Drama Series 1974
Lead Actor James Pritchett Dr. Matt Powers 1978
Lead Actress Elizabeth Hubbard Dr. Althea Davis 1974

Primetime Emmy Award wins

  • 1972 "Outstanding Achievement in Daytime Drama - Programs"

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "The_Doctors_%281963_TV_series%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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