All Creatures Great and Small (TV series)
|All Creatures Great and Small|
|Created by||Bill Sellars|
|Written by||James Herriot|
|Directed by||Peter Grimwade|
|Country of origin||UK|
|No. of episodes||90|
|Running time||50 mins|
|Original channel||BBC One|
|Original run||8 January 1978– 24 December 1990|
All Creatures Great and Small is a British television series, based on the books of the British veterinary surgeon Alf Wight, who wrote under the pseudonym James Herriot. Ninety episodes were aired over two three-year runs. The first run (1978 to 1980) was based directly on Herriot's books; the second (1988 to 1990) was filmed with original scripts.
In 1977, the BBC tasked producer Bill Sellars with the creation of a television series from Herriot's first two novels, If Only They Could Talk and It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet, using the title of the 1975 film adaptation All Creatures Great and Small. Filming began in the autumn of 1977.
The leading role was taken by actor Christopher Timothy, after Simon Ward (who had played the part in the 1975 film), John Alderton (who had replaced Ward in the sequel, It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet) and Richard Beckinsale all turned it down. Siegfried Farnon was played by Robert Hardy. Tristan was played by Peter Davison. Helen was played by Carol Drinkwater in the first three series and two specials, then by Lynda Bellingham in the final four series. Mary Hignett played housekeeper Mrs Hall in the first three series, and Margaretta Scott appeared as the recurring aristocratic dog-owner Mrs Pumphrey.
With the amount of screen time to fill, the series quickly became much more of an ensemble show, developing all the characters considerably. In particular, the role of Tristan was significantly increased. This was partly because Christopher Timothy was injured in a car accident part-way through the first series and was, as a result, largely restricted to studio scenes, which required that all the scenes involving location filming be rewritten and given to Davison.
- James Herriot — Christopher Timothy
- Siegfried Farnon — Robert Hardy
- Tristan Farnon — Peter Davison
- Helen Herriot — Carol Drinkwater (series 1-3 and specials) and Lynda Bellingham (series 4-7)
- Mrs Edna Hall — Mary Hignett (series 1-3)
- Calum Buchanan — John McGlynn (series 4-6)
- Mrs Greenlaw — Judy Wilson (second special; series 4, episodes 1-5)
- Mrs Pumphrey — Margaretta Scott (recurring) (and her dog "Tricky Woo")
- Mrs Alton — Jean Heywood (series 7)
- Hodgekin — Teddy Turner (recurring)
- Jimmy Herriot — Harry Brayne (1983 special) and Oliver Wilson (1985 special - series 5) and Paul Lyon (series 7)
- Rosie Herriot — Rebecca Smith (1985 special - series 5) and Alison Lewis (series 7)
- Deirdre McEwan — Andrea Gibb (series 4-6)
- Ezra Biggins — John Sharp (recurring)
- Jeff Mallock — Fred Feast and Frank Birch (recurring)
- Granville Bennett — James Grout (recurring)
- Mr Hartley — Peter Martin (recurring)
- Grimsdale — Bryan Pringle
The Herriot "novels" are written in a very episodic manner, with each chapter generally containing a short story within the ongoing narrative of Herriot's life. This format made the creation of a television series a natural adaptation.
The programme initially ran for three series, with each episode adapting one or two of the Herriot stories—usually a story thread centered around James, and a second centered around Siegfried or Tristan. The continuity of the show followed the general arc of the books: James' arrival at Darrowby in the mid-1930s, his growing experience as a vet, his humorous attempts at romance with Helen, and their eventual marriage. The programme ended in 1980 at the stage where the characters were drawn into the Second World War. This completed the adaptation of all the novels which Alf Wight had written up to that point. Two 90-minute Christmas Specials were subsequently made, in 1983 and 1985, set after the war.
Eight years later, in 1988, the programme was revived, after the BBC was able to persuade Alf Wight to allow new scripts to be written around the existing characters, but not directly based on the Herriot books. The revived series was one of the first co-productions of the BBC (a practice that has since become commonplace), made in partnership with A&E and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The revival ran for four more series, taking the characters into the early 1950s. Lynda Bellingham took over the role of Helen (following Carol Drinkwater's decision not to continue in the part, as a result of the ending of a real-life romance with Christopher Timothy), and Judy Wilson briefly played a new housekeeper, Mrs Greenlaw, as Mary Hignett had died shortly after the end of the third series. The Darrowby practice added a young Scottish vet, Calum Buchanan (John McGlynn), based upon Herriot's real-life assistant Brian Nettleton. Buchanan was a former classmate of Tristan's, and had a particular fondness for wildlife. The Herriot children, who had been introduced in the two specials, became recurring characters, with Jimmy played by Oliver Wilson and Rosie by Rebecca Smith.
The revived series gradually became more based around the development of the central characters — particularly after the introduction of Calum and Deirdre, with their romance and subsequent marriage — and it mainly centred upon the activities inside Skeldale House at Darrowby, rather than being a series about a veterinary practice. For the final series, all of the new characters were dropped (including Calum, Deirdre, and the Herriot children), and the series returned to its 1970s roots, focusing once more on the animals. The final broadcast was another Christmas Special, in 1990.
In 2007, an unfilmed script by the show's script editor Johnny Byrne was recovered and presented to the BBC as a possible Christmas reunion episode, but the BBC did not commission it. Peter Davison joked, "Maybe they just thought we were too decrepit, I don't know!"
Over 18-20 December 2011, the BBC screened a three-episode prequel, Young James Herriot, about Herriot's time at University, with Iain de Caestecker in the title role. Co-stars included Amy Manson and Tony Curran.
The programme was filmed in North Yorkshire, with some scenes shot at Bolton Castle and in the village of Askrigg, which doubled for the fictional Darrowby. Cringley House doubled as Skeldale House. The Kings Arms Hotel, which became the Drover's Arms during filming, features photographs on its interior walls of the cast drinking at the establishment during downtime.
Other locations used include Coverdale, Ellerton Abbey (the home of Mrs. Pumphrey), Finghall railway station (which doubled as Rainby Halt), Hardraw Church (Darrowby Church), Hawes (Darrowby Cattle Market), Wensley Holy Trinity Church (James' and Helen's wedding), Simonstone Hall (Darrowby Show), Thornborough Hall, Leyburn (Ministry of Agriculture building), Muker, and Redmire Village Green (Darrowby bus stop).
For the first three series, up until the two Christmas specials of 1983 and 1985, most interior scenes were recorded on video and edited together with filmed exterior shots, as was common practice in British television at the time.
The original set of the interior of the Skeldale House surgery is now located at the Richmondshire Museum in Richmond, North Yorkshire, and is open to the public. Other extensive parts, including the living room and the dispensary (see picture, right) are on display at the James Herriot Museum in Thirsk, which is also open to the public.
The theme tune "Piano Parchment", and the incidental music used in the show, was written by Johnny Pearson.
TV episodes 
Ninety episodes (including the three Christmas Specials) were broadcast over seven series. Each episode is fifty minutes in length.
DVD releases 
All seven series and two Christmas Specials have been released on DVD in Region 1, Region 2 and Region 4.
|DVD Title||No. of Discs||Year||No. of Episodes||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Series 1||4||1978||13||14 May 2002||N/A||2 January 2013|
|Series 1, Volume 1||3||1978||6||N/A||7 April 2003||1 September 2003|
|Series 1, Volume 2||3||1978||7||N/A||5 May 2003||1 September 2003|
|Series 1 & 2||8||1978||27||N/A||N/A||5 October 2010|
|Series 2||4||1978||14||15 October 2002||N/A||2 January 2013|
|Series 2, Volume 1||3||1978||7||N/A||7 July 2003||5 May 2005|
|Series 2, Volume 2||3||1978||7||N/A||15 September 2003||5 May 2005|
|Series 3||4||1979 - 1980||14||16 September 2003||23 October 2006||4 May 2006|
|Series 4||3||1988||10||14 September 2004||26 December 2006||11 April 2007|
|Series 5||4||1988||12||19 July 2005||3 March 2008||2 April 2008|
|Series 6||4||1989||12||25 July 2006||18 August 2008||2 April 2009|
|Series 7||4||1990||13||14 August 2007||26 December 2008||18 May 2010|
|Christmas Specials||2||1983 and 1985||2||16 September 2003||20 October 2008||2 April 2008|
|Complete Collection||33||1978 - 1990||90||15 January 2008||9 November 2009||N/A|
- Rawson-Jones, Ben (9 January 2009). "Davison: 'BBC rejected 'All Creatures' return", Digital Spy. Retrieved on 10 January 2009.
- The Sun (London) http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/soaps/3672994/Former-Corrie-star-Iain-de-Caestecker-to-play-young-James-Herriot-in-BBC-drama.html
|url=missing title (help).
- Official James Herriot Website
- All Creatures Great and Small (TV series 1978-1990) at the Internet Movie Database
- Timothy, Christopher (7 December 1979). Vet Behind the Ears. London: Pan Books. ISBN 0-330-26075-8.