All Creatures Great and Small is to return to television screens, it has been confirmed.
The brand new adaptation of James Herriot’s classic Dales-set books has been commissioned by Channel 5.
The series will shoot on location in Yorkshire later this year, ahead of the fiftieth anniversary of the original publication of the much-loved books in 2020. There will be an initial series of six episodes plus a Christmas special.
Channel 5 is already the home of hit factual series The Yorkshire Vet which is partly set in James Herriot’s original veterinary practice in Thirsk.
Discussions about the new series have been ongoing for months. In July last year, the original BBC TV series topped a Dalesman magazine poll to find the greatest Yorkshire television programme of all time.
At the time, Christopher Timothy, who played James Herriot for many years, revealed to Dalesman that he had spoken to programme-makers about the reboot.
“The bottom line is that Rosie and Jim (Alf’s children) will protect Alf’s memory and the series until the end of their lives, and what is very important, is that if there is a remake, it has to be done properly.
“I have spoken to people who are thinking about it, but everyone including Rosie and Jim need to be satisfied that it will honour their dad. It has to be true to the original.”
Since their first publication in 1970, the beloved books of James Alfred Wight, published under the pen name James Herriot, have held a special place in the hearts of people around the world. Chronicling the heartwarming and humorous adventures of a young country vet, the books introduced readers to his unconventional mentor and the cast of farmers and townsfolk who lived and worked in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s.
Channel 5 says this new adaptation “will preserve the rich spirit, tone and values of Herriot’s iconic characters and stories and will bring to life his sharply observed, entertaining and incredibly funny tales of country life in the North of England for a modern audience, introducing a new generation to his life affirming stories”.
Sebastian Cardwell, from the channel, commented: “James Herriot has a special place in the heart of the public and the commission of this iconic drama series, against the stunning backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales, is set to bring joy to a new army of TV viewers.
“The original books affectionately captured a unique slice of British life; in challenging times, we hope the charming and heart-warming stories of community and compassion will resonate with new audiences.”
“Revisiting James Herriot’s beloved stories is an immense privilege and we are honoured that Alf Wight’s family have entrusted us with his legacy. It is a responsibility we take very seriously.” says Colin Callender, executive producer and CEO of production company Playground.
“At a time when the country feels more divided than ever, Herriot’s glorious books remind us how to connect and belong again. The series will embrace the fun and the nostalgia of revisiting the England of the past, while celebrating Herriot’s values that, despite all our current upheaval, still underpin British life today.”
“When it originally aired on public broadcasting, All Creatures Great and Small captured the hearts of millions of television viewers,” says Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of MASTERPIECE which will co-produce the series for American television.
“We promise that the new series will have all the wit, warmth, and quirky charm of the original – and of course, lots of irresistible animals.”
Executive producer Hugo Heppell, head of investments at Screen Yorkshire, says: “People all over the world know Yorkshire through James Herriot and ‘All Creatures Great And Small’ and we are thrilled to see the warmth, the down to earth wit and the generosity of spirit that infuse his stories brought back to the screen for a new generation.’’
Never out of print, the books have sold 60 million copies internationally becoming a global cultural phenomenon with devoted fans around the world. Their focus on community and its importance in our lives gives Herriot’s work an enduring power and contemporary resonance that reminds us all that belonging to a community makes us part of something greater than ourselves.
Jim Wight and Rosie Page, Alf Wight’s children, said in a statement, “The books of James Herriot have enchanted millions of readers worldwide for almost half a century. We are delighted that our father’s work will be brought to life once again for a new generation of viewers Great and Small.”