Born And Bred (BBC-1 2002-2005, James Bolam, Michael French)

Born and Bred

Firmly in the feel good tradition of Heartbeat and BallykissangelBorn and Bred follows the residents of a close knit Lancashire village called Farnborough in the early 1950s. The focal point for the drama is the relationship between Father and son GPs Arthur and Tom Gilder (played by James Bolam and Michael French, respectively). When the series begins, Tom has just returned home to help his father run the practice.

In the second season, Arthur Gilder (James Bolam) is enjoying having his family around him, especially now that he has moved in with his son,Tom (Michael French), Tom’s wife, Deborah (Jenna Russell), and their four children. It’s all part of making Arthur feel like he is one of the family and needed, but, of course, Arthur just can’t resist sticking his oar in from time to time!

Meanwhile, Helen (Charlotte Salt) is still going out with Eddie (Sam Hudson), who is lusted after by Jean (Naomi Radcliffe). Other characters include Linda (Tracey Childs), the nurse who’s married to the village policeman, Len Cosgrove (Peter Gunn). Clive Swift is the vicar, an unconventional man of the cloth, who likes a tipple in The Signalman’s Arms, where Phyllis (Maggie Steed) is the bold and brassy landlady. Donald Gee is Mr. Boynton, the village shopkeeper, and there is Wilf (John Henshaw), the stationmaster father to Jean. Key developments in the second season include Tom’s wife Deborah’s mum turning up with news she is getting married; Len and Linda discovering they can’t have children; and Wilf coming face to face with the German soldier who killed his brother during the war.

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Season three saw the show go through something of a transitional period, with Phyllis having to deal with the fact that her wayward husband has returned to try and sell the pub from under her, and Eddie and Jean finally realising they are made for each other and planning to get married.

The biggest shock, though, is the departure of James Bolam from the lead role as Arthur, having decided he fancied a change of scene. An unlikely development sees Arthur heading off to New Zealand, an event later compounded by the fact that Tom feels he has to follow him to try and make amends for the way he reacted over Arthur’s leaving (fair do’s really Tom had in fact been offered the job that Arthur took!). There’s more trouble when the villagers get wind of a plan to demolish the whole of Ormiston (this is actually a plot by a con man, of course).

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This left the series without its two main lead actors, though, and although new characters in the shape of Dr. Nick Logan, Deborah’s sister Nancy Brisley, and Surgeon Henry Williamson were introduced, it finished soon after.

production details

UK / BBC One / 35x60m / Broadcast 21 April 2002 – 27 July 2005

Producer: Phil Collinson (season 1), Chris Clough (season 2) / Creators: Chris Chibnall and Nigel McCrery / Executive Producers: Simon Lewis and Susan Hogg.

JAMES BOLAM as Arthur Gilder (-series 3)
MICHAEL FRENCH as Tom Gilder (to 2004 he suffered an off-screen death while away on holiday to explain his absence in the 2005 series)
JENNA RUSSELL as Deborah Gilder
MAGGIE STEED as Phyllis Woolfe
CLIVE SWIFT as Reverend Brewer
CHARLOTTE SALT as Helen Gilder (- series 3)
RICHARD WILSON as Dr Donald Newman (from series 3)
OLIVER MILBURN as Dr Nick Logan (season 4)
KELLY HARRISON as Nancy Brisley (season 4)
NIGEL HAVERS as Mr Henry Williamson (season 4)

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.