Everything you need to know about Channel Five’s vet drama All Creatures Great and Small

An adaptation of the vet drama All Creatures Great and Small has arrived on our TV screens.

The series is set in rural Yorkshire (Photo: IMDb)
The series is set in rural Yorkshire (Photo: IMDb)

An adaptation of the vet drama All Creatures Great and Small has arrived on our TV screens.

Set in rural Yorkshire, the drama takes place in a number of recognisable locations in the region.

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This is everything you need to know about the cast and the true story behind the drama.

What is All Creatures Great and Small about?

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    All Creatures Great and Small is a veterinary drama set in rural Yorkshire during the 1930s and 40s in the fictional town of Darrowby.

    It follows James Herriot as a newly qualified vet relocating from Glasgow to the countryside to work under local veterinary surgeon Siegfried Farnon at his rural practice.

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    Initially wary of his new life, Herriot finds that the local community spirit and charming animals are enough to win him over.

    Nicholas Ralph, who plays James Herriot in the series, said: “James proves himself and gains Siegfried’s respect and Siegfried sees something in him that he recognises in himself from when he was a younger vet.”

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    Is the series based on a true story?

    The veterinary drama is based on the novels by Alf Wright, who wrote his novels-turned-memoirs under the pen name James Herriot. The TV adaptation closely follows the James Herriot books.

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    The real James Herriot was raised in Scotland and graduated from Glasgow Veterinary College in 1939.

    He then moved to the Yorkshire Dales for a job, working under the local vet Seigfried Farnon (whose real name was Donald Sinclair).

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    Later in his career, Herriot would write a series of books about his work, animal patients and their owners.

    Nicholas Ralph, who plays James Herriot, said: “We met Rosie and Jim, Alf White’s son and daughter, before at the read-through. So, really early on in the whole process. And they were just lovely – they were really excited, really passionate about the new series, and really engaging and had some wonderful stories.”

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    Callum Woodhouse, who plays Tristan Farnon, added: “Jim – he wrote a book about his dad, and he brought each and every one of us a copy and had bookmarked at every point in the book where our character pops up, and had written a little blurb in the front detailing his experience with that character. So he brought a copy of his book but it was individual to each one of us cast members. That was just such an amazing gesture.”

    Previous adaptations of the James Herriot stories include a TV movie from 1975 which starred Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs, Westworld) as Siegfried Farnon. A sequel was released the next year, but did not star Hopkins.

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    In 1978, the BBC also aired a TV series based on the books which was a huge success. The series ran for seven seasons and a total of 90 episodes.

    In 2011, the BBC once again made another series based on the story - a three part prequel called Young James Herriot.

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    Who is in the cast?

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    Playing the titular James Herriot, the memoir upon which the series is based on, is newcomer Nicholas Ralph.

    This series marks Ralph’s first appearance on screen, having graduated from the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2017.

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    Rachel Shenton (White Gold, Switched at Birth) plays Helen Alderson, a local farmer’s daughter who finds herself in a love triangle with James Herriot and wealthy local landowner Hugh Hulton. Hugh is played by Matthew Lewis (Harry Potter franchise, Happy Valley).

    Siegfried Farnon is portrayed by Samuel West (Mr Selfridge, The Frankenstein Chronicles). Siegfried is a vet who hired the newly qualified James as his assistant.

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    Callum Woodhouse (The Durrells, Cold Feet), plays Tristan Farnon, the popular and extravagant playboy brother of Seigfried.

    Anna Madeley (Deadwater Fell, Patrick Melrose) plays the housekeeper of Skeldale House, Mrs Hall. Wealthy local resident Mrs Pumphrey is played by Diana Rigg (Games of Thrones, Detectorists).

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    When does All Creatures Great and Small air?

    The new series of All Creatures Great and Small began on Tuesday 1 September at 9pm on Channel 5.

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    If you missed the first episode, you can catch up on My5.

    The next episode will air on Channel 5 on Tuesday 8 September at 9pm.

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    The new season is a six-part series and has a bonus Christmas special episode.