Fresh out of college, James Herriot arrives in Yorkshire, England to act as assistant to the local veterinarian. He quickly finds practicing medicine vastly different from what he had expected. The job requires him to labor at all hours of the night and day, often in bad weather, and healing animals proves difficult, dirty, and sometimes dangerous. Even so, Herriot grows to love the countryside, its inhabitants, and his work.
The newest TV adaptation of James Herriot’s classic account of his work as vet set in the 1930s Yorkshire Dales brings all the book’s heart and humor to the screen. Nicholas Ralph stars a young Herriot who arrives at his first job straight out of vet school, only to discover that his new employer Siegfried is rather eccentric and that Siegfried’s younger brother Tristan is home and ready to cause mischief. The job, meanwhile, is more physically demanding than Herriot expected, and the farmers are somewhat suspicious of outsiders and slow to accept both change and the word of a young vet over their own experience. Fortunately, however, the Dales might just offer Herriot a chance at love! It is hard but rewarding to eke out a living in the countryside, and Herriot and viewers will soon find that the Yorkshire Dales has a homey charm all its own.
All Creatures Great and Small is simply the coziest of TV shows, one I look forward to watching after a hard day or when I need a bit of cheer. The episodes are quiet, each focusing on a new veterinary dilemma, as well as the stories of the ensemble cast–Tristan’s efforts to pass his veterinary exams, Mrs. Hall’s relationship with her son, Herriot’s blooming romance, and more. Though some stories end in sadness, the overall tone is that life goes on, always with the support of our loved ones. The show makes it seem as if the Yorkshire Dales is the best place to be–a place of kindness and caring at all times. Truly, I wish sometimes that I lived in Skeldale House!
The title emphasizes the animals, but the characters are what make the show. Their distinct personalities play off each other to create often humorous scenarios, but ones where viewers understand that all the characters have a mutual respect and fondness for each other. Samuel West shines as the eccentric Siegfried Farnon, whose pride in his business and unwillingness to admit that he can be wrong contrasts with the happy-go-lucky nature of his younger brother Tristan, who may be goofy but also yearns to prove himself. Anna Madeley as housekeeper Mrs. Hall works as the glue that binds Skeldale House together, as she skillfully navigates all the strong personalities under her care, and quietly guides everyone to where they need to be. Other recurring characters prove just as integral to the show, from the hilariously excessive Mrs. Pumphrey, who coddles her dog Tricki Woo like her firstborn child, to Helen’s taciturn father. The community is what makes the show–and the Dales–special.
I have loved every episode of All Creatures Great and Small, loved watching the characters grow, loved seeing how they each are branching out and finding their way. I worry about the looming war as season three approaches, but cannot wait to see how the community continues to pull together in times of adversity. This is truly a show not to be missed if you want a heartwarming, feel-good story that will make your day seem a little brighter.
9 thoughts on “TV Series Review: All Creatures Great and Small (Seasons 1 & 2)”
I grew up with the original series and books. I did start to watch this newer version, but I had too many memories of the first one to enjoy it.
I don’t think I’ve seen the older version, so I was able to enjoy this one! It does differ from the book slightly, but it works for me!
This newer adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small has become one of my absolute favourite programmes to watch, and repeatedly so, for all the reasons you describe.
I was really anxious watching that very first episode and series as I didn’t know if I was going to like it as much as the original series and if it would stay true to the people and stories but it has surprised me and I’m itching for the third series to be released! Also I think it helps that for us in the UK, it aired during lockdown and it was just that bit of comfort, happiness and warmth we all needed.
I think it is also nice that it has brought a new generation to a legacy that is still very much an intrinsic part of Veterinary history, the Yorkshire Dales landscape (helped a lot by the Yorkshire Vet programme too, which is very much connected to All Creatures Great and Small) and the social history of the time.
Yes! I was not expecting to love it as much as I do, but it is a very comforting show, and I think we all need some comfort right now! Interesting about the veterinary history, too! I’m listening to the audiobook narrated by Nicholas Ralph right now and I love the parts where Herriot talks about the changing techniques in vet practices!
I love the new audiobooks with Nicholas Ralph too. I think he actually brings out more of James Herriot’s Scottishness than Christopher Timothy ever did.
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Lovely review! You capture so much of what I love about the show. I really love the characters, the setting, the overall warmth, the animal stories — really, just everything about it! I’m actually reading the book now (listening to the audiobook, narrated by the actor who plays James), and it’s wonderful.
Lol, I’m listening to the audiobook narrated by Nicholas Ralph, too! I had read the book previously, but I couldn’t pass up the audiobook when I realized the same actor was reading it!
He’s making it so enjoyable!! I feel like James is personally telling me his stories. 🙂
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Yes! I see what you mean!