1 9 7 8 (UK)
13 x 50 minute episodes
Having been invalided out of the Boer War, Paul Craddock (Nigel Havers) buys Shallowford, a long-neglected thirteen-hundred acre estate in the Sorrell Valley of Devon, with inherited money from his late father’s scrap-yard business, intent on becoming a gentleman farmer.
Amidst gossip and much speculation from the locals, Paul soon becomes a much-respected “Squire” and is determined to treat the tenants of the six farms on his estate fairly, unlike his predecessor – despite the advice of his new neighbour, Lord Gilroy (Jack May), who advises him not to get too close to his tenants and workers.
Paul is assisted by Estate Manager John Rudd (Glyn Houston), a strong rural father figure to the new squire.
The old families of the valley include various peasantry and workers such as the oleaginous Sam Potter (Philip Martin Brown) and his feckless, ragged, dirty and thieving clan; the Codsall’s of Four Winds, dominated by fierce matriarch Arabella Codsall (Madge Ryan); and the respectable Derwent family of High Coombe Farm, especially the beautiful and demure Claire (Prunella Ransome) who attracts Paul’s attention – though a potential rival is quickly established in the equally attractive Grace Lovell (Fiona Gaunt), a cousin of the family who previously owned Shallowford.
Paul and Grace do tie the knot but she is flighty and fiercely independent (he is jolly cross when she joins the women’s suffrage movement), and their relationship is a troubled one. They are equals in determination, honour and vision but their attraction for each other is matched by their conflicting hopes and ambitions.
Paul eventually marries Claire Derwent and the series fast-forwards seven years to the outbreak of the Great War and the impact it has on the valley. Will Codsall (David Delve) is the first man to be called up and war fever spread quickly, taking everyone in its wake – even John Rudd. Sadly, Will Codsall is driven mad by his experiences.
While solicitor Sydney Codsall (Kevin Cope) tries to involve Paul in shady dealings, he instead joins up also and Shallowford House becomes a convalescent home.
Finally, with Paul missing and the army having vacated Shallowford, Codsall sets out to buy the valley.
The BBC’s lack of cash showed in this thirteen-part Sunday night drama series based on the R F Delderfield novels. Location filming took place at Bowringsleigh, a Grade 1 listed Elizabethan house in West Alvington, Devon.
Claire Craddock (Derwent)
Grace Craddock (Lovell)
Philip Martin Brown
Pam St. Clement
Dr Maureen Rudd
Elinor Codsall (Willoughby)
James Grenfell MP
Parson Augustus Bull
Valley for Sale | The Party | An Outbreak of Romance | A Birth and a Death | The Storm | The Hollow Victory | The Last Hot Summer | Call to Arms | Death of a Hero | The Profiteers | The Bad Season | The Service | The Old and the New