To Serve Them All My Days
To Serve Them All My Days is the fictional tale of David Powlett-Jones, a bitter, cynical Second Lieutenant forced from the front lines of World War I by shell shock. He takes a position at an elite boarding school where the headmaster sees in him something David can’t see in himself. Lacking confidence things don’t go well at first, the staff on learning he’s a coal miners son initially alienate him, though as he shows his worth most of the warm to him, with the exception of Carter who thinks David is unpatriotic fro telling the young boys what it is really like on the front lines.
Through the two decades between the First and Second World Wars, through social upheaval around Britain David finds love, starts a family and teaching young boys to become men, eventually having to prepare some for War once again.
Initially aired in the UK in 1980, the acting and visual quality can, at times, be lacking. But To Serve Them All My Days more than makes up for this with some great witty banter, especially coming from the headmaster, Algy Herries. In essence, it’s a Sunday afternoon drama; it won’t hook you with its action and pace, but it’ll make an enjoyable way to pass an hour relaxing with the family on a Sunday afternoon.
The filming at the Milton Abbey School in Dorset, which served as Bamfylde in the series, took place during actual school term. The “real” students at the school happily mixed with the cast and crew and many of the boys who appear in the series are genuine schoolboys.
At the start of Episode 6, after David learns the sad news about Beth and the twins, he walks outside to an isolated part of the school grounds, is eventually joined by Howarth, and then walks off alone to the nearby moors. What transpires so smoothly on film was actually recorded over several months. The scene with Howarth was shot in March, the scene on the moors in mid-May and the scene with David receiving news of the accident in June. Part of the problem was that the school used for the film was in Dorset, which doesn’t have moors. Those were found in Devon.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: M – Contains Violence, Sexual References and Offensive Language.
Duration: 672 mins.
Genre: Drama, Television.
Director: Terence Dudley, Peter Jefferies.
Actors: John Duttine, Frank Middlemass, Alan MacNaughton, Neil Stacy.
Release Date: Available now.