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  • This television series is something special. It makes me laugh, brings a tear to my eye and puts a lump in my throat, often all in the same episode. It shows people, the main leads of James, Seigfried, and Tristan, (Helen too), as special, and who are lovable in their strength and eccentricities. This show is so special that I almost don't want to own it, whether on video or dvd. Why? Because possessing them might make them less special. I want to discover them again, be excited that they are on the PBS stations that I get, and feel blessed to visit with my old friends again.

    Whenever I feel that I don't fit in this modern world, and that 'All Creatures Great and Small' was made for me alone, I know that I must have friends worldwide that I've never met, because we all love this show!
  • The original series of 41 episodes was a beautifully accurate version of the Herriott books. Superb acting is expected in a British production, and this is no exception, as the actors do an amazing job of capturing the essence of the even the minor characters. The vets, Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy and Peter Davison are especially true, as is Carol Drinkwater (most superior to her replacement as Helen). The series also captures the essence of the Yorkshire Dales: the lovely green hillsides, wide vistas and individualistic spirit. Visiting that area is like stepping into the Herriott stories, as we discovered in 1982 and many subsequent visits. And having a pint with the cast between shooting on location showed us how authentic the series is. Many people don't realize that these are not `warm, fuzzy' animal stories. Each episode has a moral point to make and makes it subtly, through action not speeches. The series is also inspirational, for it is, implicitly, the story of the birth of scientific veterinary medicine.
  • All Creatures Great and Small, is one of those rare, timeless and charming BBC Productions that never seems to age and which can still be enjoyed all these years after its production finished. I think the key for this is the belief that the producers, writers and directors installed into the series to make it real. The charm comes from the fact that it is set a long time ago, in a more gentle and picturesque time when life was easy as could be imagined, before the ravages of World War II left its scars upon the nation. This is a brighter, happier time.The Vetenary work place is of no particular interest to me, but I think that because of the setting of the 1930's it makes everything seem all the more like a fantasy. The other major reason for its success is that it has an absolute solid gold cast in the trio of principles leads. Christopher Timothy as lead Vet James Herriot is basically a good person who loves his job, but who is kind and tries his best with people to be of good nature. He is excellently portrayed by the under-rated Timothy. Second to the success of the series is Robert Hardy as Sigfried Farnon. Hardy is one of the finest television presences, and as the senior Farnon delivers his lines with alot of believable conviction and commands the screen, his character is of the old guard, an even older time when people were strict and strong. You never once doubt that Hardy is a Vet. Completing the trio is the ever suffering Tristan Farnon, perhaps the series most beloved character. Tristan provides the light relief for the series, and is constantly on the bitter end of Sigfrieds wrath. Again the character is excellently played by The Fifth Doctor Who Peter Davison, who exudes public school boyish charms here.He dithers and bumbles his way throughout the series, while at the core being an essential and perhaps strong character, he means well but never quite gets it. Davison is one of Britains finest character actors, again under-rated but looking now as if he will hit the big time after the success of At Home With the Braithwaites. All Creatures Great and Small also has the benefit of some of the finest writers and directors having worked on the show, such as Terence Dudley and Peter Moffet, as well as the multi talanted and consistant head writer Johnny Byrne. It is beautiful to look at from its period setting to the Yorkshire scenery. Defenitley on of the BBC's finest series, and one that shouldn't be overlooked. A fantastic production.
  • I'll make it unanimous (so far). When All Creatures first aired in the States, I had already enjoyed the books immensely and doubted that a television production could do author James Herriot's work justice.(A pen name, I believe his real name is Alfred White.) I was delighted to be wrong in that assumption, brilliantly adapted and endearingly performed. It quickly became and remains to this day one of my favorite programs. I particularly recommend the earlier seasons for a number of reasons, not the least of which is Carol Drinkwater as Helen Herriot. I only wish that like Holly the computer on Red Dwarf, who had Lister wipe his memory banks of the collected works of Agatha Christie so that he would have something interesting to read. That I could experience All Creatures Great and Small again, for the first time.
  • gooelf5028 November 2006
    Such a fine series comes along only once or twice in a viewer's lifetime. The actors are second to none. Robert Hardy plays Siegfried Farnon in a wonderfully realistic manner. Here's a man who ranges from a soft natured rural country vetrinarian who cares passionately for every animal he treats, to a raving tyrant who rules his younger brother Tristan with an iron fist. His performances show acting ability that we seldom see in North American productions.

    Christopher Timothy routinely delivers up fine performances as James Harriot, the younger partner in the vetrinary practice. Most of the episodes deal with his experiences and he manages to take somewhat mundane situations and make them exciting for the viewers. Over the life of the series we witness his evolution from an inexperienced young vetrinarian to a competent and practiced professional. Along the way we see him become a partner in the practice and woo and win Helen who eventually becomes his wife and the mother of his children.

    Comic relief is always forthcoming from Tristan, played to perfection by Peter Davison. It's often hard to accept that he is Siegfreid's brother as the two men are absolute opposites; Siegfried being a serious, studious gentlemen with all the hallmarks of a finely bred British gentleman while Tristan is a boozing, carousing womanizer. The chemistry amongst these three actors makes the series one of the finest ever televised. The production itself is without equal. Scenes are shot on location with the actors participating directly in the action. It's not unusual to see Siegfried or James shoving their hands inside of a living beast to perform some medical process, or wallowing through a muddy barnyard.

    A fine and highly realistic series on mid century vetrinarians; certainly the best I've ever seen.
  • Set in the ruggedly beautiful Yorkshire Dales during the years leading up to WW2, All Creatures Great & Small follows the adventures of a veterinary practice supporting the local farming community in 1930s Northern England. This wonderful adaptation of the books by James Herriot has timeless appeal for the whole family. I've watched the series in its entirety three or four times since it was made and it still remains fresh and very enjoyable. In addition to an abundance of charm and humor, the quality that makes this TV series so exceptional is believability. After watching a few episodes, the viewer becomes convinced that James Herriot, Sigfried Farnon, and his brother Tristan Farnon are really qualified vets...just watch one or two of the many scenes involving surgery or calfing and you will see my point. Real proceedures, which the actors actually perform, are conducted under the expert guidance of qualified vets on the set, including the author James Herriot himself. The many and varied supporting actors are also convincing as real people involved in real situations. The leading cast led by Christopher Timothy as James Herriot, Robert Hardy as Siegfried Farnon, Peter Davidson as his brother Tristan, and Carol Drinkwater as James' wife Helen, are all fabulous. The powerful presence of Robert Hardy as Siegfried is particularly compelling, and its easy to see why he's considered by many to be the finest actor in Britain. When compared to other programs of its genre and indeed other TV series in general, this adaptation of the classic All Creatures Great & Small is simply outstanding. Eleven out of ten.
  • The life and times of Yorkshire Dales veterinary practise in the years leading up to WWII. Based on the million selling James Herriot autobiographies.

    James Herriot (real name Alfred White) came to Yorkshire as a young vet looking for his first job and despite being of Scottish origins made the place his own. They have even turned his old surgery (in Thirsk) in to a museum and it well worth a visit. Look it up on the internet if you are visiting the area.

    There are very few books well enough written that within a few pages you are dragged inside and falling in love with the characters. I was around when they still were being written and when a new one came out you could be sure I'd be first in line at the bookshop. I'd even set the alarm clock an hour early so I could find more time for them.

    (I doubt I'll ever be as excited as that over a book again!)

    The fact that the main man carried on long after becoming a millionaire author showed that he was a man of dedication and integrity. Today there is a shortage of farm vets in that part of the world. The life is no easier now than it was then.

    The series got together a dream cast and the male leads are fabulous and very true to the pages of the book - while the women try and make the best of their tea making, love-interest and showing-people-in roles.

    Many of the pets on the show were treated for free in exchange for them being used on the show. It doesn't get any more "method" than having your hand up the backside of a cow for real! In one episode a foreign female vet seems poised to get involved in the practise -- but she only seems to upset the happy home and soon leaves. Also to be noted is that pages of the book involved bad people and youngsters who turned to crime. Even a suicide. You won't find them here. Nevertheless some of the farmers are less than pleasant people -- with the vets prepared to take them on as clients despite their character and (in real life) propensity for not paying their bills.

    The central problem with this series is that sometimes you feel you are born in the wrong age. Oh for the time when country cottages were within the budget of a working man and everyone had time to stop and chat over tea.

    Yes, it is a bit misty eyed and cute (although not all the animals are), but there are plenty of morals and lessons-in-life too.
  • I saw this TV series during a 3-year stay in the UK (father's work), when it was first aired. I was going through kindergarten/primary school at the time. Absolutely loved it! That may be more of a personal memory and less of a 'review', but the simple fact that this is one of the few things I remember so well must account for something...

    The starting tune never fails to bring a smile on my face. Good acting from the main character, James Herriot. I saw an episode not too long ago and I must say, the series hasn't lost it charm after all these years. It's seem almost timeless, which in my opinion is one of the best compliments possible. The scenery in the series is breathtakingly beautiful and the stories are charming, entertaining and very 'feelgood'. Good memories!
  • This film (and indeed series) is set in 1930's Britain, not the 1940's as stated elsewhere in this site, as Britain was involved in that fracas called the Second World War from 1939 and both Farnon and Herriot joined up with the Royal Air Force.... The books did carry on for the post war period but the film is firmly in the 30's! The attention to detail - even down to the advertisements by the roadside, is extraordinary, whilst the realisation of pre-war Britain, with its optimism, rugged individuality and, determination in sometimes very difficult circumstances is heartwarming. As a small piece of trivia, Christopher Timothy, who plays James Herriot has a limp in the later series, as he (for real) broke his leg during the filming of series two. Hardy, who played S. Farnon, is now even better known for his role as the Minister For Magic, in the Harry Potter films!
  • My first introduction to James Herriot was my father's laughing fits while reading the books. Then, the series appeared on PBS and I enjoyed what I saw, which in turn motivated me to read the books. The books are wonderful, almost in the realm of Fantasy (perhaps, the books are my second favorite set of books next to Lord of the Rings) if it weren't so grounded in reality. Sure Herriot smooths some of the rough edges off of his real life, but it still seems real. And this series captures the same feel that the books had, which no small achievement in my opinion. Most of the characters, major and minor, ring true to the depictions in the books and I have little trouble using the images when I re-read the books. Both the books and the series explore triumphs and failures that make life what it is. It makes common sense statements about life without being heavy handed about it. You almost feel you've lived the important, meaningful episodes of someone else's life as if they were your own. What more could be asked from auto-biographical (or semi-auto-biographical) material?
  • The combination of superb writing, acting and film-making that produced the "All Creatures" series would have been sufficient to attract me. However, retreat to an episode with James and co. became my emotional and intellectual sanctuary due to the veterinary content. As a veterinarian, I am drawn to the veterinary dilemmas - the penniless child with a treasured creature, integrity in the face of silly pet owners, the 'attitude' of horse owners, and, most tellingly, the diagnostic puzzle that humbles us all. I left veterinary practice for the veterinary policy (and, often, politics) a number of years ago but the lessons from that period of my life remain vivid. Apart from the veterinary side, I enjoy the historical detail and gentle moral in each episode. Recently I invited some of my public sector veterinary colleagues to join me in watching the episode on Foot and Mouth disease, a concern that haunts private and public sector veterinians to this day. The story was skillfully rendered with accurate veterinary facts woven into the back drop of the expired ultimatum of September 3, 1949 that committed England and France to a war against Germany. I had been exposed to the history lesson of the invasion of Poland by Hitler and the consequences by earlier episodes in the series so that final pre-WWII episode was particularly poignant. Story telling at its finest!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    All Creatures Great and Small is based on the semi-autobiographical novels of real life vet Alfred Wight. Wight's character James Herriot was based on himself and the Farnon brothers were based on his friends and colleagues Donald and Brian Sinclair. The series stars Robert Hardy, Christopher Timothy,Peter Davison, Carol Drinkwater and Lynda Bellingham.

    The series tells the story of three country vets who work from the 1930s to the early 50s. There's the respected and irascible head vet Siegfried Farnon (Robert Hardy).

    James Herriot(Christopher Timothy) is a kind and easy going young man who learns a lot from Siegfried and gains the respect of the people of the Dales.Lastly there's Siegfried's younger brother, the charming and fun loving Tristan(Peter Davison).

    James Herriot's wife Helen was played originally by Carol Drinkwater and later by Lynda Bellingham.

    They all have excellent chemistry and you never doubt their friendship its a delightful series.Tristan's scenes with Siegfried are always touching (Siegfried has had to be both father and brother to him) and they often bicker but have many scenes where their true feelings for each other show. For example in Big steps and Little Ones where Siegfried gets called up for war service and he says goodbye to Tris.

    James has some great scenes with Mr Riply an eccentric old farmer who always forgets something and tries to get his cows seen for free. The scenes of the vets treating the animals are a highlight. However it's the growing friendship between James and Siegfried and Siegfried's relationship with Tristan that draws me back to this series. The scenes between the three of them are beautiful to watch and as the series goes on you share there lives and see them go through good times and bad. This series is a must see for fans of the books and for anyone who loves animals.
  • I have waited a very long time, but at last I am the owner of Season 1 of "All Creatures Great and Small", the well-told tale of a young rural veterinarian freshly indoctrinated into the pre-war pastoral setting of the lush and rugged Yorkshire Dales, England. A PBS hallmark series that originated on the BBC over a generation ago, the show aptly kicks off the saga immediately prior to the advent of medical advances for livestock and the technological revolution that changed a way of life that had endured for thousands of years. Assistant Veterinary Surgeon James Herriott witnesses the crushing tragedies and soaring miracles that profoundly affect the simple Yorkshire folk as they seek but to carve out an existence for themselves and their families. Like the book, each episode contains several tales of the animals that Herriott comes into contact with. All Creatures Great and Small is my favorite book and to see these rich characters and settings brought to life does no injustice to that book. Every step across the sweeping fells by Herriott is a step I take as well. The collective experience makes me yearn to go back to a place to which I have never been.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Spoiler/plot- All Creatures Great and Small, 1978. The film explores the life and career of a veterinary in the rural English countryside. His patients, friends, co-workers, and the people of his village through the tough years between 1930 to 1950.

    *Special Stars- Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy, Peter Davidson, Carol Drinkwater.

    *Theme- Nature is a wonder to be appreciated.

    *Trivia/location/goofs- Based on a best selling book. Shot in the farmland Yorkshire 'Dales', north/west central counties of England. 'James Harriot's' wife role was re-casted with a different actress after the TV show came back after two years(two successive year's Christmas Specials) and post-WW2 in the story line with two Harriot children added to the cast. Peter 'Tristan' Davidson went on to play the lead role in the longest running TV science fiction show, 'Doctor Who'. The household dogs of Robert 'Seigfried' Hardy were his real household pets used in the show's filming.

    *Emotion- A completely charming, satisfying, entertaining, enjoyable, and heartwarming TV show on an unusual subject, a small rural veterinary medicine practice. It enjoyably follows a veterinary's hard life and it explores their larger issues of human nature and people's relationship to their farm livestock and pets in a rural setting. Beautifully shot, written, acting, cast and paced, this series delightfully shows viewers a little about the English village people and maybe a little about ourselves.
  • I haven't read the books, but I just love this series, and consider it one of my favourite shows. It is relaxing, funny, endearing and warm, all of which I love about shows like Last of the Summer Wine, Mapp and Lucia and Darling Buds of May.

    The series is beautifully filmed for instance, with picturesque scenery and lovely photography and period detail. The music is pleasant and memorable too, the writing is outstanding making me laugh and cry and the stories are compelling with seldom a dull moment.

    The characters are written with charm and have an immense likability about them, and the acting from Christopher Timothy, Peter Davison and especially Robert Hardy and all the other members of this talented cast is wonderful consistently.

    All in all, a truly great and timeless show. 10/10 Bethany Cox
  • This series has been standby Netflicks viewing for me when I cannot seem to find anything without violence and crass humor. Having walked through the Dales as long ago as the early sixties I recognize much of the scenery and the characters.

    I am like many others who seem to prefer the early series with Carol Drinkwater and Mary Hignett. Replacing Carol must have been a hard process. The later series did one very good thing which was to improve the theme music. The earlier version had a percussion section that must been pasted in later and sounded like a complete tea set and box of cutlery being thrown down a set of stairs.

    And speaking of comic relief...the humor provided by Peter Davison as Tristan at times had me wincing. I could not quite believe that such an out an out conniving self absorbed pratt as Tristan could have been accepted either in the practice or in a small Yorkshire town. Davison acts the role perfectly, but I would have watched the series had it not included his scenes. Occasionally I could not quite swallow James's naiveté.

    The real stars of this show were the hundreds of local character actors who played walk on parts over the years, not to mention a never ending supply of compliant small animals willing to sit quietly while being examined, poked and fumbled and a never ending supply of cows ready to calve at the directors command.

    As for Robert Hardy...whenever I watch Martin Clunes in the excellent Doc Martin I am tempted to say "you were not the first to portray an iconoclastic medical role in a rural setting with colorful locals to play off".

    Hardy was superb but seemed tired in later episodes, however without his anchoring role the series would have been too cozy and tedious.

    In summary, one of the best TV series ever made. Up there with M.A.S.H., Midsomer Murders, Poirot and Barney Miller
  • A tale of 2 shows. The way I look at this show is to divide it into 2 segments: Series 1-3 and Series 4-7.

    Series 1-3 was truly a special show bordering on perfection. The characters and plots were fresh while series 4-7 was truly average at best. The remaining characters and repeated plots became stale.

    The show after series 3 could not compete with itself. Yes, Hideous Helen (as my wife and I call Lynda Bellingham) from series 4 on was a part of the problem. However, the main problem was that series 1-3 was so close to being perfect but series 4 on was just an average show. They were repeating previous show plots with very little changes for example and the charm was gone. And Tristan missing from the bulk of the later episodes was another big problem.

    We are big fans of ACG&S but what we have here are basically 2 different shows: Series 1-3 is a TEN and Series 4-7 is a FIVE or SIX tops. Thus, the show taken as a whole is around a SEVEN AND A HALF or EIGHT at best. Still a quality show but it dragged on way too long.

    Series 1-3 will live forever in my memory as being one of the special shows to hit the little screen.
  • I have to start by saying I love this series. I grew up with it as a child, I watch it now, and I'm just charmed to pieces, my American girlfriend loves it too. The only black eye so far is Johnny Byrne.

    The episodes were written by a few different people... so for example, in Series 1, episodes 1,2,4 were written by various others, 3 and 5 by Byrne. We had to fast forward through parts of 5 it was so bad. These nicely drawn characters with their witty byplay collapse into 2 dimensional cutouts when he writes, the plot points are preached at you directly, rather than played out... We got to the beautiful music at the end of 5, which is the part at which you normally feel uplifted, and we both just felt violated instead.

    "Why do you do this endearing thing?" says James to some minor character whom we see only once.

    "Because {SOB STORY ABOUT YOUTH}"

    "Oh I see. Well, bye then."

    or

    "Good morning James. You look tired" (rather than James just LOOKING tired, or "Late night there James?", or something involving actual drama)

    "Yes I am tired. Because {PLOT POINT}. I really think it's because {EXPLANATION OF PLOT POINT}."

    Arghhh! Now given that this guy wrote about a third of the episodes, we're undecided about whether to just skip the rest he wrote or to plow through. I love the show so much I'd be loathe to miss them (especially Robert Hardy, who's the only one who carries off any of Byrne's lines really at all), but I don't know if my heart can take the beating he lays on it.
  • I fondly recall this British series very well, along with many others in the early days of PBS. Christopher Timothy was excellent as James Herriott, the serious and dedicated vet whose television stories inspired me to read the original books. These were great books--literate and hilarious. I also remember a coffee table book about the moors that was inspired by the TV series. The TV series brought many extraordinary characters from the Yorkshire moors where James practised his veterinarian trade among the locals. The landscapes with its hills, streams and heather were outstanding under the often dark, forbidding skies. Much of the real fun came from the two brothers Siegfried and Tristan Farnon. The rivalry between the brothers was often instigated by Robert Hardy, as the older Siegfried. Tristan, played by Peter Davison, could never live up to his brother's standards and he was often trying to cover his tracks before Siegfried could catch up with him. When James's new wife Helen came into the show, the series took on a new focus. Helen was perfect and had to navigate among the male egos. My favourite was Robert Hardy who went on to other roles as a great actor. In this series he sparkled as the bossy brother of Tristan, mentor to James, dear friend of Helen and a great neighbour to the proud and independent people of the moors. I'll never forget this series, one of my favourites of the British television shows of the1970's.
  • I adore this series. It is unlike most TV series in that it depicts a beautiful place and time, warts and all, not as a bucolic fantasy but as a place where people work hard, struggle to survive, sometimes suffer loss, but also enjoy the great beauty, shared experiences, friendship and love that surrounds them.

    It breaks my heart that most younger folks today would not even recognize these qualities and would be hard pressed to sit through a few episodes. Maybe I'm wrong - I hope so.

    But I am forever thankful that our PBS station continues to run this series and I'll watch it as long as I live. Now that Netflix dumped it (WHY??) I may buy the series. I hope the great actors and actresses that performed this series know the oceans of joy that is their legacy!
  • One of the most terrific things about this great (even dramatic) long-lived British television series is that it had nothing to do with animals. Aside the confluence of wonderful animal husbandry with succinct British life-styles before-and-after the war, the human content is almost immeasurable. What we've all enjoyed so much about this incredible production is the inter-arrangement, personal and day-to-day trials within a close-knit family-owned business. It continues because of 'values' we've often treasured - and still long for. It's watched because it's incredibly engaging. And it's treasured not only for its immaculate and natural filming/editing/scoring/dialog - but for the characters who made it 'real' in our lives. Don't believe me? Watch the current 're-creation' of it in 'Duck Dynasty.' ...and how BIG is that?
  • Eowyn196720 November 2007
    I was led to buy the first two DVDs from the glowing comments I read on this site and from having really enjoyed James Herriot's books which I've read and reread over the years. Well, books do not age or hardly but films (and TV films most especially) do. So I really do not recommend buying those DVDs unless one is nostalgic of static camera work, slow pace, bad special effects and mediocre acting from all but Robert Hardy, the actor portraying Siegfried (but I never pictured him that way from reading the book - I think he's described as tall, dark and elegant, and I imagined him much, much younger...). In fact neither I nor my children have been able to finish watching the 2nd DVD. I've seldom watched something so slow-paced. I suppose in any case that much of Herriot's humour comes from exaggeration and choice of words, and that's probably next to impossible to render on screen...