TV UK TV

One By One (BBC-1 1984-1987, Rob Heyland, James Ellis)

One By One

Based on the popular books and real life experiences of International Zoo Vet Donald Taylor, One By One took us across three decades (from the 1950’s to the 1970’s) in the life of vet Donald Turner from his humble beginnings as assistant vet to Maurice Webb back in his home town to working at the local zoo, Bellington, before taking control of the animals in Britain’s first safari park and ending up as one of the world’s leading vet’s dealing with exotic species.

One by One is a great period piece full of charm, although trained as an ordinary vet he is soon thrown in at the deep end thanks to Maurice Webb’s brother in law owning a zoo, in the second episode he has to deal with an elephant with toothache and soon realises where his true vocation lies.

The success of All Creatures Great and Small no doubt served as a catalyst for this show but it is equally as good in it’s own way. Over the course of the series a real relationship develops between Donald and zoo keeper Paddy Reilly who moves with Turner across to the Safari Park.

Naturally enough being a series about a vet there is lots of medical procedures being carried out however unlike All Creatures, One By One ranged across such animals as Orangutangs, Elephants, Tigers and even Killer Whales. Often gruesome scenes of animal operations in close up make for some eye popping viewing but the human drama aspect is what makes the series especially strong.

Rob Heyland is terrific in the lead, going from clean cut naivety to woolly bearded legend over the course of the three series. Big things were anticipated acting wise but in a sideways move he went into writing and he has contributed scripts to series such as Robin Hood, Whistleblower, the superb Between The Lines, Kavanagh QC and Heartbeat.

One By One

Rob Heyland as Donald Turner, James Ellis as Paddy Reilly in a scene from season one.

production details
UK / BBC-1 / 32 x 50 minute episodes / Broadcast 29 January 1984 – 2 May 1987

Creator: Anthony Read / Books: David Taylor / Script Editor: Ted Rhodes (season 1), Christopher Penfold / Story Consultant: Richard Bates / Vetinary Advisors: David Taylor, Andrew Greenwood / Costumes: Margaret Harwood / Music: Michael Omer / Producer: Bill Sellars

cast
ROB HEYLAND as Donald Turner
JAMES ELLIS as Paddy Reilly
SONIA GRAHAM as Ethel
PETER JEFFREY as Maurice Webb (season one)
LIZ SMITH as Grandma (season one)
PETER GILMORE as Ben Bishop (season two)
CLIFFORD ROSE as Challon (seasons two and three)
HEATHER JAMES as Maggie Raymond
CHRISTINA NAGY as Liz Collier (season three)
ANDREW ROBERTSON as Jock Drummond
ROSIE KERSLAKE as Jenny Blount (season three)

THE EPISODES
SEASON ONE 29 January – 25 March 1984
1. WE CALLED IN THE EXPERTS
2. NATURE’S GREAT MASTERPIECE
3. THEY SHOOT TIGERS IN INDIA
4. SILVER LININGS
5. PASTURES NEW
6. TIME AND MOTION
7. A LONG WEEKEND
8. DOCTOR’S ORDERS
9. THE WOMANS TOUCH
10. ENDS AND BEGINNINGS

SEASON TWO 5 January – 23 March 1985
1. BLOOD, TOIL, TEARS AND SPIT
2. THE PARTING OF THE WAYS
3. OF BABES AND SUCKLINGS
4. TO HEAR THE SEAL MAIDS MUSIC
5. END OF AN ERA
6. YOU AND WHOSE ARMY?
7. PRIDE OF PLACE
8. IT’S ALL DONE WITH MIRRORS
9. DANGEROUS PRACTICE
10. A KILLER CALLED CUDDLES
11. THANK YOU MR D.H. LAWRENCE
12. A CLOSE RUN THING

SEASON THREE 28 February – 2 May 1987
1. CHANGING PLACES
2. REMEMBER THE HUMBLE GUINEA PIG
3. FIRST THINGS FIRST
4. TIGER TIGER
5. THE MONEY INBETWEEN
6. DANGEROUS GAMES
7. THE ELEPHANT AND THE KANGAROO
8. A DYING BREED
9. DOWN BELOW
10. COMING TO TERMS