I was a bit boy-crazy in my youth.
Which is hilarious, because in my later youth and adulthood I became possibly the least boy-crazy person ever.* I never dated much and when I did I tended to make a decision rather quickly, like after two months or so, about whether my co-datee was suitable material for continued dating. Or I, equally rather quickly, had that decision made for me (read: dump city) by my co-datee.
But I digress. My absolute first crush? Well, of course, that’s the dark and adorable and even then laconic-but-not-yet-smoke-roughened-voiced John Cusack, in The Journey of Natty Gann:
We’re not going to get into exact ages, but I was pretty young when I saw that in the theater with my mom, so I know my boy-craziness started too early.
What’s all this got to do with British television? Well, I’ve got one name for you that should explain everything: Peter Davison.
When I was too little to understand what the program was, or to watch it with any comprehension, I sometimes saw Dr. Who playing on our PBS station. And who was the Doctor during my formative boy-crazy years? Peter Davison, that’s who:
I’m sorry, but could he be any more adorable? With his little celery stalk boutonniere? Davison played the fifth iteration of Dr. Who in the very early 1980s, so there must have been a bit of a time lag between the show airing in the UK and when it showed up on my PBS station. Even so. I had no idea what was going on in the program, but when people in my family flipped through the channels (the youngest never controls the remote until all the older ones leave home and/or Dad isn’t in the house), I caught brief glimpses of him and always had one thought: “Hi, cutie!”
And then along came All Creatures Great and Small, which was a series about a country vet in Yorkshire in the 1930s and 1940s, and even though no one in my household was interested in British television as such, we did live on a farm, and my Dad had read all the James Herriot books on which the series was based, so we sometimes watched it.
He’s adorable, he’s named Tristan, and he saves kitty cats. What’s not to love, I ask you? What I always enjoyed was that Tristan was supposed to be the “bad boy” of the All Creatures Great and Small series–drinking too much, sleeping too late, and way, way too popular with the ladies. (Honestly, who could blame the ladies?) I am not one for bad boys, but perhaps that’s because the American variety of bad boys tends to be more violent and brooding. There’s nothing violent or brooding about Peter Davison as Tristan Farnon–which is why I loved that character with all my might. A bad boy who is a big flirt and likes to sleep in? That’s way more my speed.
Davison is also well-known for playing Campion in the Campion detective series, which aired only two seasons between 1989 and 1990. I’ve seen and enjoyed some of those episodes, but I’m saving the entire series for a treat when I can binge-watch it some weekend. Maybe when my husband and my boys are off camping or some other manly endeavor.
Now, of course, Peter Davison still pops up in a lot of British series. Although I rarely seek him out, I’m always so glad to see him. As when I was watching (and very much enjoying) The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries, and there he pops up as Inspector Christmas. Or a Miss Marple adaptation of At Bertram’s Hotel, and there he is again. He’s still cute, he still gives me a little thrill, and he makes me laugh, thinking about that little girl watching him on All Creatures Great and Small, thinking, “Who is this guy? I LOVE him. And what kind of name is Tristan? British? That is the coolest guy name ever. Man, the British are SO COOL…”
*Well, until I had my own little boys, at which point I became boy-crazy all over again.