To Serve Them All My Days by R.F. Delderfield is one of my favourite novels. It isn't the sort of thing I normally pick up and I don't actually own a copy (although I intend to get one at some point). In fact it is the only Delderfield I've read.
Sometimes I'm not sure what it is that attracts me to the story, but I often find myself re-reading it whenever a copy is to hand. Part of the attraction lies in the main character, David Powlett-Jones, and part in the fact that the novel doesn't place the characters at the centre of events. In many ways the characters are observers at a remove from the events of the dying days of WWI through to the opening of WWII. The setting of a boarding school in Devon is itself removed from the mainstream of events.
So it was with this love of the story that I picked up the DVD collection of the 1980 BBC adaptation. At 13 episodes this is a competent enough adaptation but there are enough changes to the story that I don't think I can recommend it to anyone who loves the book. I won't go into spoilery details but I thought that several of these changes were both unnecessary and negative.
One thing worth mentioning is that David Powlett-Jones comes across far too stridently in the adaptation for my liking, making him almost a caricature of a 1920's socialist/labour supporter. I don't know if this was Andrew Davies' scriptwriting or John Duttine's acting or both but I felt it detracted from a character that I've long felt was one of the more interesting and sympathetic that I've encountered in a long time.
Oh, and bonus points to anyone who spots the Dr Who reference without making with the clicky on the links. :)