The Big Valley is an American Western drama television series which ran on the American Broadcasting Company Network (ABC) from September 15, 1965 to May 19, 1969—comprising 4 seasons. The series is set in the mid-late 1800s on the fictional Barkley Ranch in Stockton, California. The one-hour episodes follow the lives of the Barkley family, one of the wealthiest and largest ranch owning families in Stockton, lead by the matriarch Victoria Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck) and her sons Jerrod (Richard Long), Heath (Lee Majors), Nick (Peter Breck), and daughter Audra (Linda Evans). The series begins approximately 6 years after the death of the family patriarch Thomas Barkley. Although he is never shown in the series (other than a painting), the character of Thomas Barkley is referred to as a major plot point many times. The character of Heath Barkley is introduced in episode one as the illegitimate son of Tom Barkley. His presence and claim to the Barkley name is the focus of much of the dramatic plots in season one. While the successful and rich are often portrayed, in present day, as the unscrupulous villains, the Barkley family are portrayed as the upstanding citizens of Stockton, modeling justice, fairness, and oftentimes, going against popular sentiment to uphold the underdog's rights. The series was created by A. I. Bezzerides and Louis F. Edelman and produced by Levy-Gardner-Laven for Four Star Television.
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