All Creatures Great and Small returns for series 3

Thursday: All Creatures Great and Small - (Channel 5, 9pm)

Even though Channel 5 has enjoyed a lot of success with shows about Yorkshire and vets, making a new drama series based on James Heriot’s much-loved books must still have seemed like a bit of a gamble.

That’s mainly it would have to compete with the fond memories of the earlier adaption of All Creatures Great and Small, which ran on the BBC on and off from 1978 to 1990.

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Luckily, viewers immediately took the new version into their hearts when it began airing in 2020, and actor Nicholas Ralph has a theory about why.

He says: “I think it came at the right time in that we were in lockdown during Covid, so I think it was a brilliant escapism for people straight away… It’s gentle, it’s warm, it’s funny at times. It’s all that lovely stuff.”

Tonight, the third series is getting under way, and once again it’s coming at time when many people will be glad of a chance to escape into the Yorkshire Dales of the 1930s.

However, while All Creatures Great and Small may be comforting, that doesn’t mean nothing ever changes.

The action picks up three months after the Christmas special in the spring of 1939, and life at Skeldale House will never be the same again. Not only is James beginning a new chapter both with Helen (Rachel Shenton) and at the practice, but Tristan (Callum Woodhouse) is now a qualified vet.

Meanwhile, war is looming on the horizon, which will make everyone reconsider their purpose in both Darrowby and beyond.

In the first episode though, Siegfried (Samuel West) is more interested in reminding James of his responsibilities as a vet – which is unfortunate timing, as his colleague has his mind on his upcoming honeymoon.

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As if that wasn’t enough to leave him feeling torn between his personal and professional lives, James then encounters farmer William Henry, who fears his cows may have tuberculosis.

And that’s how James comes to find himself high up in the Dales performing a second round of TB testing on the morning of his wedding. Will he make it back in time, or will the cows take priority over his bride?

Actor Nicholas can’t give too much away, but he has hinted that he’s extremely happy with the way this storyline plays out.

He explains: “What I can say is when I read the script, I was smiling like a Cheshire cat from start to finish. It’s absolutely brilliant.

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“Not only is it everything that you would hope it would be – romantic and touching in points as well – but it’s also very funny.”

Meanwhile, Tristan is given an important task by James and Helen, but his brother decides to take charge on his behalf.

Sadly, Siegfried then has his own mess to sort out when there’s a mishap at the practice involving a vomiting dog.

To quote the title of one of Herriot’s books, it shouldn’t happen to a vet.