Although renowned for his mainstream work, Finlay’s career was bookended with genre appearances, with one of his earliest TV roles in the 1960 space adventure series Target Luna, and one of his last as Anhora, Keeper of the Unicorns, in The Labyrinth of Gedref for the BBC’s Merlin in 2008. He played Van Helsing in the BBC’s prestigious version of Count Dracula in 1977. He also appeared in the adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Johnny and the Bomb in 2006, and many years previously as The Witchsmeller Pursuivant in an early episode of The Black Adder. Film roles included Jacob Marley in the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol and Dr Fallada in Lifeforce.
His other key roles included Casanova in Dennis Potter’s TV version (a role he sent up on the Morecambe and Wise Show), and the father in the controversial Bouquet of Barbed Wire series. He played Inspector Lestrade in both versions of Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper – A Study in Terror and Murder by Decree.