David Powlett-Jones has just returned to England from the trenches of WWI. He was injured and shell-shocked and, after a spell in hospital he gets a job teaching in a boys boarding school ... See full summary »

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1981   1980  
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete series cast summary:
Alan MacNaughtan ...
Patricia Lawrence ...
Neil Stacy ...


David Powlett-Jones has just returned to England from the trenches of WWI. He was injured and shell-shocked and, after a spell in hospital he gets a job teaching in a boys boarding school in S.W. England. He is not at all sure he can do the job, but the avuncular headmaster has faith in him. David, although well educated, is just a humble lad from the Welsh valleys at heart and has to fit himself and his ideas into the heart of the English establishment. Written by Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

10 October 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Una vida a su servicio  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(13 parts)

Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


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. See more »


Several times, the length of David's tie changes between indoor and outdoor scenes in the same sequence. Example: Episode 8 opens with David walking back to Bamfylde early in the morning. His tie ends well above his belt. When David arrives at his house and talks with Molyneux, David's tie extends below his belt. From there, David goes outdoors to meet Algy and Brigadier Cooper, and his tie is once again short. See more »


Beth Marwood: [when Winterbourne has gone missing] Oh, yes, I can just see Carter. He'd have taken the whole cadet corps out onto the moor and marched them into a bog.
See more »


There's a Long, Long Trail
Music by Zo Elliott
Words by Stoddard King
See more »

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User Reviews

Adore it!
21 October 2004 | by (Boston, MA) – See all my reviews

I'm so thrilled to see such glowing words from fans of "To Serve Them All My Days." I was quite taken with this mini-series when I saw it on PBS in 1984. Seeing that it had become available on DVD recently, I revisited it, wondering if my fond memories from 20 years ago would prove accurate or had taken on an unrealistic glow over time. Not to fear: I found the show's quality *surpassed* my memory of it. The series scarcely ever strikes a false note, and is bursting with extremely poignant, funny, insightful, compelling and honest moments and characterizations.

As others have commented, the story follows David Powlett-Jones, a shell-shocked veteran of WWI. As we learn in the first of 13 episodes, David was the youngest son of a coal-miner. Unlike his three older brothers, two of whom died in a mining accident along with their father, David was "kept out of the pit" to attend the local grammar school. At age 18, instead of heading to Oxford as planned, he was shipped to France, where he spent three years fighting in "the Great War." His arrival at Bamfylde school in what appears to be early 1918 is part of a recovery program prescribed by an army neurologist: a closed community in a rural setting to help mend both the physical and the mental wounds David endured in the war.

At first David is skeptical that someone of his limited formal education and lack of social standing will be accepted at Bamfylde, a public school where the boys "have an unconscious assumption of privilege." But the gentle yet insistent persuasion of headmaster Algy Herries convinces him to give it a try. His first day in the classroom provides an immediate challenge as the schoolboys test his mettle. But despite David's outwardly shy and soft-spoken ways, he soon shows that he can be as tough as any situation demands.

The series follows the intertwining of David's personal and professional growth, and the recurring conflicts between these two facets of his life. Along the way, there are loves, friendships, triumphs, and tragedy. Through it all, John Duttine is a marvel of sensitive and compelling acting, as are many of his cast-mates.

Be forewarned that the series was produced in 1980 on videotape and with a limited budget (reportedly less than $2 million -- in comparison, "The Blue and the Gray," a 1982 Civil War saga about 2/3 as long, cost between $16 and $18 million). Hence, the production often has the look of a filmed play, with few outdoor scenes and no special effects. But what it lacks in "gloss," it more than makes up for in substance.

I would love to discuss aspects of this series with other fans, but rather than go into more detail here (and risk "spoiling" it for newcomers), I suggest we meet in the Message Board area. Please post about any aspect of the show -- I'll be sure to respond!

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