James Herriot is a newly qualified Scottish veterinarian who is having trouble finding work during the lean 1930s. His family thinks he may have to join his father on the docks, but he finally gets an opportunity in rural Yorkshire. Upon arrival, he soon learns that his new employer–Siegfried Farnon–is a bit eccentric, to put it mildly, and that practicing veterinary medicine in a rural farming community is quite different from what he learned in the classroom.
You are likely familiar with the general gist of this series, either due to the classic books they are based on or the previous TV adaptation from the 1970s and 1980s. I have never read the books (though I’ve often intended to), and it’s been years since I watched the original show, so I don’t remember enough of it to compare the two series, except to say that I enjoyed both of them immensely.
This most recent adaptation of the books is highly entertaining and charming. Newcomer Nicholas Ralph stars as Herriot, and he does a good job of holding his own with the significantly bigger personalities in the show. The whole cast is quite good, though, including Samuel West as Siegfried and Anna Madeley as Siegfried’s decidedly more pragmatic housekeeper.
Diana Rigg steals every scene she’s in–in what would be her final role–as the imperious owner of a spoiled Pekingese, as does Callum Woodhouse as Siegfried’s even more eccentric little brother Tristan. (Between this and The Durrells, it seems like Woodhouse has the market cornered on crazy siblings in 1930s British literary adaptations.)
I’ve written before about British period dramas as the TV equivalent of comfort food, and All Creatures Great and Small certainly fits that description. There’s just something inherent cozy about watching Herriot and the Farnon brothers treat patients that range from prize-winning bulls to prized lapdogs, and their adventures are as hilarious as they are heartwarming.
I highly recommend this series. The only downside is we now have to wait indefinitely for season 2.
Have you been watching the new All Creatures Great and Small? What’s your favorite classic British TV show? What’s the TV version of comfort food for you? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on this item or to place it on hold.