Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Originally adapted as a British made-for-TV movie, the weekly, hour long comedy/drama series All Creatures Great & Small made its first BBC appearance on January 8, 1978. The series was based on the biographical novels of James Herriot, a Yorkshire veterinarian. Taking place in a period ranging from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, the series focused on the selfsame Dr. Herriot (Christopher Timothy), who, after graduating from medical school, was assigned to a Yorkshire County farming community. Here he joined the thriving veterinary practice of the brothers Farnon (Robert Hardy, Peter Davidson), with the crabby, overbearing Siegfried Farnon (Robert Hardy) thoroughly dominating the young, easygoing Tristan (Peter Davison). It didn't take long for Dr. Herriot to realize that the surrounding countryside was festooned with eccentrics -- both human and animal. By and by, he fell in love with (and ultimately married) Helen Alderson (played first by Carol Drinkwater and then by Lydia Bellingham), daughter of a local farmer who (to put it mildly) wasn't overly fond of doctors. As the series progressed, Herriot "grew" in his job, and the townsfolk grew to respect and even love him. Also, an astonishingly wide variety of animal species, domestic and otherwise, paraded through Herriot's tiny office for his tender ministrations. Beginning with the series' fourth season, James (now a full partner with the Farnons) took upon a young and ambitious assistant, Calum Buchanan (John McGlynn). In the final seasons, James was sometimes helped out by his children Jimmy (Oliver Wilson Paul Lyon) and Rosie (Rebecca Smith, Alison Lewis). Extremely popular throughout its tenure on British television -- it had two separate multi-season runs: the first from 1979 to 1980, the second from 1988 to 1990 -- All Creatures Great & Small was equally well received when it was telecast in the U.S. via PBS.