22 user 3 critic

To Serve Them All My Days 

1:04 | Trailer
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 »




1981   1980  
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »





Complete series cast summary:
John Duttine ...  David Powlett-Jones 13 episodes, 1980-1981
Frank Middlemass ...  Algy Herries 13 episodes, 1980-1981
Alan MacNaughtan ...  Howarth 12 episodes, 1980-1981
Patricia Lawrence Patricia Lawrence ...  Ellie Herries 10 episodes, 1980-1981
Neil Stacy Neil Stacy ...  Carter 8 episodes, 1980


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>

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Did You Know?


Matthew Waterhouse's first acting role. 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 »


Howarth: Anyone who doubts that a new dark age is coming upon us has only to spend a few hours with lower fourth. I despair, I despair. I am, as you all know, a pacifist by nature and conviction; but if a German soldier were attacking Pinkerton Minor, I'd be hard put to it not to come to his aid. The German soldier's, I mean.
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School Song
(opening music)
Written by Kenyon Emrys-Roberts
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User Reviews

An excellent adaptation of a much-loved book
28 April 2000 | by martinu-2See all my reviews

Even before the television adaptation, "To Serve Them All My Days" was one of my favourite books - like Robert Goddard's "In Pale Batallions", it's one of those books that I keep coming back to time after time. Having been to a public school myself for four years, I can identify with many of the traditions and rituals, and the rather pathetic life both of the boarders and the staff: what was true in the 1920s at Bamfylde was largely still true in the 1970s at my school.

With a few minor exceptions, the television version does great justice to the book. John Duttine is exactly as I imagined David Powlett-Jones: diffident and shell-shocked to begin with, but gradually growing in confidence to become eventually a well-respected and much-loved teacher and headmaster. I cannot imagine anyone else except Frank Middlemass as Algy Herries - his fruity voice and bumbling manner are perfect. Charles Kay's portrayal of the soul-less, embittered killjoy Alcock is utterly menacing. And Alan MacNaughtan manages to capture the irascible and yet ultimately very pathetic nature of Howarth, the teacher who has devoted his whole life to the school.

The three women - Beth, Julia and Christine - in David's life are very different from one another. Belinda Lang is heart-meltingly gorgeous as Beth, the elfin, nineteen-year-old "catalyst in a beret" who quite literally sets her cap at David while he is on holiday in Colwyn Bay. After the tragic death of her and the twins, David has a brief affair with Julia Darbyshire (Kim Braden) who is winsome and yet strangely matter-of-fact: definitely mistress material rather than a wife in the making! Sadly, Susan Jameson's portrayal of David's third love, Christine, lacks a certain something - I am left wondering what (apart from her politics) David could find remotely attractive about her.

There are a few differences between the book and the TV adaptation. In the book, Grace, one of the twins, survives the car crash that kills her mother and sister. In the TV version, both sisters are killed. This is no great problem: I've always felt that the character of Grace was rather insipid and a bit too perfect. It would also have made for great difficulties in the filming, requiring a series of actresses to portray her as she gradually grows from a baby into a young woman.

My only regret about the TV adaptation is the ending. The final episode is rather rushed and many important scenes from the book are missing. The most notable is the poignant scene as Howarth is dying of cancer and begs David to let him die at the school rather than in hospital; in the TV version, Howarth simply dies in his sleep while watching a school cricket match. We don't see the scene where an old boy of the school recounts that many years before, after the death of his father, Howarth had offered to pay the boy's fees - a sizable portion of his own salary - because he did not want the boy's talents to go to waste. And we don't see the final scene where, during World War II, a young soldier comes to teach at the school after being invalided out the army, and David recognises all the parallels between this man's beginnings and that of himself twenty years before. He even uses the same phrases that Herries used to him. But none of this makes it to the TV adaptation, which is a great shame.

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Release Date:

10 October 1982 (USA) See more »

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To Serve Them All My Days See more »

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