By, Phoenix Robertson
Who would have guessed that I would become completely enthralled with early-20th century life and veterinary culture? I’ll be honest, it seemed very unlikely, until I learned about “All Creatures Great and Small”.
“All Creatures Great and Small” is a family-favorite series of books and television shows. The series’ newest television adaption released their first season in 2020 with the third season in the series being streamable in the United States on the PBS app. As a fan of the show since its original release 3 years ago, I was thrilled to know that more episodes are on the way. Join me on this adventure through the hills and valleys of the Yorkshire Dales, to the door of the world’s favorite veterinarian, Dr. James Herriot.
Why Am I a Fan?
As a lover of vintage styles and learning about the past, I absolutely adore the aesthetics of “All Creatures Great and Small.” I appreciate the historical accuracy of the clothes, backdrops, and the real world events with which the show intersects. The show also offers a nice contrast to the fast-paced world of today. The easy going attitude of many of the characters and the slow pace of the town they live in allows the viewer to take time to appreciate the world around them and the one created in the show. “All Creatures Great and Small” provides a welcomed break from the hustle and bustle of daily life and a window into what experiencing the waves of life was like in the early 20th century.
James Herriot is the main character in the “All Creatures Great and Small” television series and is the author’s reflection of himself in the books. Herriot was recruited to work under Dr. Siegfried Farnon at his practice in the village of Darrowby. Siegfried is an older and much more experienced veterinarian than both James and Tristan Farnon, who is Siegfried’s younger brother. Tristan is known as the “flamboyant and flirtatious younger brother” who can never seem to pass his veterinary certification exams. The three all live at their home in Darrowby called the Skeldale House. The Skeldale House also doubles as their veterinary office. With the helter skelter that comes with running a veterinary practice, Skeldale often seems to dissolve into utter chaos and disorganization –at least it would without the help of Mrs. Hall, the housekeeper. Mrs. Hall works and lives at Skeldale house as a maid and secretary for the members of the household. The show also features a variety of other characters from the Yorkshire Dales and from Scotland, the home of James Herriot. The fictional township of Darrowby is also overflowing with vibrant characters that represent the importance of diversity, especially in period dramas. These vibrant and lively characters are also not limited to those of the human variety, as the show is all about the care of animals. One of the most notable animal characters in the show is Tricki Woo, who is played by Derek the Pekingese dog. In fact, Tricki was so well liked among the cast, crew, and fans and known as such a talented actor that a chapter was dedicated to Tricki/Derek in the companion book titled The World of All Creatures Great and Small.
All of the characters in the “All Creatures Great and Small” series were inspired by people that the author knew during his life. For example, the character of the head veterinarian of the practice, Siegfried Farnon, was inspired by the British veterinary surgeon, Donald Sinclair. The character of Siegfried’s brother, Tristan, was inspired by veterinarian Brian Sinclair. You can find out more about the real-life inspirations for the characters in “All Creatures Great and Small” here.
“All Creatures Great and Small” originally began as a series of books written by James Alfred Wight. He was born in 1916 and died in 1995 after practicing as a veterinarian for almost 50 years. Wight decided to write under a pen name because, according to the ideas of veterinarians at the time, writing a book about his life as a veterinarian could be seen as advertising his practice. In order to escape this, he wrote under the pen name of James Herriot. Due to the fact that the books were based on his life, his pen name also became the name of the book’s main character. Wight wrote 5 books in the “All Creatures Great and Small” series, these include “All Creatures Great and Small,” “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” “All Things Wise and Wonderful,” “The Lord Made Them All,” and “Every Living Thing.” These books were based on fictional adaptations of Wight’s life. If you would still like to learn more about “All Creatures Great and Small” you can watch the original screen adaptation from 1978 on Amazon Prime, Roku, or Google Play Movies. If you would like to watch the newest “All Creatures Great and Small,” then you can do so via YouTube TV, Amazon Prime Video, or on YouTube for $1.99. All of the books can be bought online, and a few can be found at our school library!
The Future of “All Creatures Great and Small”
The legacy of James Wight will never be forgotten, as he lives on in the memories of his friends, family, fans, and the families of his patients. New episodes of “All Creatures Great and Small” will continue to premiere every Sunday evening on the PBS Masterpiece app in the United States until the end of season 3. The original television series is still available to watch on various streaming platforms. You can also visit The World of James Herriot Visitor Attraction in Thirsk, North Yorkshire if you would like to become fully immersed in the life of Wight. Thank you for joining me on this adventure through the wonderful world of “All Creatures Great and Small”; I hope you found this an educational and exciting experience and a good gateway into the lore of works created by James Wight. Leave a comment down below to let me know who your favorite character is from “All Creatures Great and Small.”ine are Mrs. Pumphrey and her posh pup, Tricki Woo!