All Creatures Great and Small

All creatures great and small - Yorkshire Dales

A Tale of Two Eras: “All Creatures Great and Small” Through the Ages

When Alf Wight, under the pseudonym James Herriot, penned his beloved series of books chronicling the life of a country vet in the Yorkshire Dales, little did he know that his tales would inspire not one, but two, cherished television adaptations. Spanning generations, “All Creatures Great and Small” has brought the heartwarming and often humorous stories of Herriot’s work to life, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales.

The Original Series: A Nostalgic Journey

The original “All Creatures Great and Small” aired on the BBC from 1978 to 1990. This series quickly became a staple in British households, winning the hearts of viewers with its endearing characters and picturesque landscapes. Starring Christopher Timothy as James Herriot, Robert Hardy as the irascible Siegfried Farnon, and Peter Davison as the charmingly hapless Tristan Farnon, the show was a faithful adaptation of Herriot’s novels.

Filming locations were critical to the series’ authenticity and charm. The village of Askrigg in Wensleydale served as the fictional Darrowby, while the nearby town of Thirsk, Herriot’s real-life home, provided additional scenic spots. These locales, with their stone-built houses and rolling green fields, encapsulated the essence of rural Yorkshire life.

The Revival: Breathing New Life into a Classic

Fast forward to 2020, and “All Creatures Great and Small” returned to screens with a fresh perspective, courtesy of Channel 5 and PBS Masterpiece. This new adaptation brought James Herriot’s world to a new generation, while maintaining the charm and warmth that made the original so beloved. Nicholas Ralph took on the role of James Herriot, supported by Samuel West as Siegfried Farnon and Callum Woodhouse as Tristan Farnon.

The new series embraced its heritage while introducing modern cinematic techniques to enhance the storytelling. Key filming locations shifted slightly to include the village of Grassington, which stood in for Darrowby. Grassington, with its quaint cobbled streets and timeless architecture, proved to be the perfect setting. Just a stone’s throw away, the picturesque village of Kettlewell offered additional filming spots, providing a diverse and authentic representation of the Yorkshire Dales.

Grassington: The Heart of Darrowby

Grassington, nestled in Wharfedale, is a quintessential Dales village. Its stone cottages, charming market square, and surrounding fells create a picture-perfect image of rural England. During filming, local businesses and residents warmly welcomed the cast and crew, transforming the village into the fictional Darrowby. The Devonshire Hotel became the Drovers Arms, and the village square buzzed with market scenes and bustling activity reminiscent of the 1930s.

Kettlewell: A Hidden Gem

Kettlewell, located in Upper Wharfedale, added another layer of authenticity to the series. Known for its stunning natural beauty, Kettlewell’s landscapes provided the backdrop for many of the outdoor scenes. The village’s timeless charm and serene environment captured the essence of the Dales, enhancing the show’s nostalgic feel.

A Timeless Tribute

Both the original and the new series of “All Creatures Great and Small” have successfully transported viewers to a simpler, kinder world where community and nature reign supreme. The meticulous attention to detail in selecting filming locations, from Askrigg to Grassington and Kettlewell, underscores the importance of setting in bringing Herriot’s stories to life.

As we watch the gentle adventures of James Herriot and his companions, we’re reminded of the timeless beauty of the Yorkshire Dales. It’s a place where, despite the passage of time, the essence of rural life remains unchanged—captured forever in the heartwarming episodes of “All Creatures Great and Small.” Whether you’re a fan of the original series or have discovered the new adaptation, the charm of Herriot’s world continues to inspire and delight, proving that some stories, like the Dales themselves, are truly timeless.

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