All Creatures Great and Small 2020 is a new TV series based on the much-loved books by James Herriot, and in the year of the 50th anniversary of the original novels.
As I understand things, the series was shot before March 2020, so as you observe from the above picture and the trailer, there was no need for the golden labrador and lead actor Nicholas Ralph to social-distance 😉
(And yes, it is just ‘All Creatures Great and Small‘, but you have to differentiate between this and the previous series when it comes to Google…)
The series begins in Glasgow, 1937, where James Herriot (newcomer Nicholas Ralph) wants to avoid working on the docks, and would rather be a vet in Darraby, Yorkshire, where he can treat the numerous animals. However, on arrival, it’s not easy to just get off the bus without an idea of where he’s meant to be going, and you don’t have a smartphone with which to find a GPS signal.
Everyone assumes he’s “foreign” because they don’t understand his Glaswegian accent and, before long, the drama soon finds its feet (or hooves) as one of his first big jobs is to deliver a calf; As Samuel West – as his boss, Siegfried Farnon – confirmed recently on Jeremy Vine‘s show, you’re no longer allowed to put your fist up a cow’s bottom unless you’re an actual vet, so the had to use prosthetic bottoms. Yes, those are now a thing!
I was never a regular watcher of the original All Creatures Great And Small as I was only a handful of years old at the time, but this version of the series certainly evokes the period of the time with fantastic vistas of the Yorkshire Dales and sprinklings of humour, such as his first assignment where he has to help a horse with a particular issue whilst stood in a muddy field – and the animal takes initial objection and kicks him into… yep, you guessed it.
Elsewhere, he’s worried about being run over by Helen’s (Rachel Shenton – White Gold) bull, and this is very undemanding fluff, leading you to think that with the flirting going on, he and she will be dancing a tango before long.
Episode 2 features Diana Rigg as Mrs. Pumphrey,who has an issue with her dog – Trickywoo, namely impacted anal glands because she feeds him trifle and cake instead of proper dog food… and at first, I was thinking that Winalot (the first brand which popped into my head) wasn’t so readily available in 1937, while meat and biscuits were, such as his ‘prescription’. However, looking it up afterwards, I know the programme can’t promote a brand, but I see that Winalot first came out in 1927 and was a brand leader in the 1930s, but then Ms Rigg’s character doesn’t look like she frequents Tesco too much.
Overall, period drama isn’t too much my bag – so a couple of episodes will be enough for me, but I can see it’s perfect for the target market; and for the purists, there’s also the original theme during the closing credits.
All Creatures Great And Small 2020 is certainly the kind of drama you’d expect on a Sunday evening around 8pm, but then there’s a lot of competition on that night these days, so perhaps like this with, it’s best to go for a weekday night and those still seeking Sunday entertainment can always watch it on My5 afterwards.
Plus, because of the period in which it’s set, this is probably the only drama currently on TV that’s not trying to force any sort of agenda down our throats, so that’s a great plus, these days.
Now the first episode has aired, I can talk about one early part where Herriot gets off the bus, thinking he’s in Darraby, but is actually miles from it because the bus is going TO Darraby. I’m reminded of a time when I got on a 192 bus from just before the centre of Stockport, and into Manchester, not expecting it to do anything else as I sat down upstairs, but when it got to the centre of Stockport, it did a sharp turn, the lights went off, and careered at speed round a few corners with the driver swearing occasionally, and then ending up in the Stockport bus depot. As I got off, he was surprised to see me still there. I asked how come this bus didn’t go to town, and he just said his particular one didn’t, so I had to walk a few mins back to the main road and get the next bus from there; and he said for me to just explain to the driver why I was using the same ticket I’d bought a few minutes earlier. D’oh! 🙂
However, here’s a big surprise at the end of the first episode when…
All Creatures Great and Small 2020 begins tomorrow night on Channel 5 at 9pm. It is not yet available to pre-order on DVD, but you can buy the Origial Series Boxset on DVD.
If you miss any episodes, you can watch the each episode on the My5 for 30 days after transmission.
Episodes 1 and 2 Score: 6/10
Director: Brian Percival
Producer: Richard Burrell
Writer: Ben Vanstone
Based on the books by James Herriot (real name: Alf Wight)
Music: Alexandra Harwood
James Herriot: Nicholas Ralph
Siegfried Farnon: Samuel West
Helen Alderson: Rachel Shenton
Mrs Hall: Anna Madeley
Tristan: Callum Woodhouse
Mrs. Pumphrey: Diana Rigg
General Ransom: Nigel Havers
James Herriot Snr: Drew Cain
Hannah Herriot: Gabriel Quigley
Henry Dinsdale: Mark Noble
Jenny Alderson: Imogen Clawson
Dick Rudd: Alexis Platt
Jeremy Sharpe: Steve Jackson
Dennis Handshaw: Nigel Betts
Mrs Dinsdale: Naomi Radcliffe
Mrs Rudd: Laura Lindsay
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.