This charming fly-on-the-wall series, narrated by Christopher Timothy, may have changed over the years, but its connection to celebrated vet James Herriot remains as strong as ever.
But did you know that wasn’t his real name? James Alfred Wight began writing about his experiences as a country veterinarian in England under the Herriot moniker, and his stories have touched millions of people since.
They gained a new lease of life with the 1978 and 2020 television series, but there are still many vets upholding the ethos of the legendary veterinarian, who shied away from publicity, saying: “It’s not my world. I wouldn’t be happy there. I wouldn’t give up being a vet if I had a million pounds. I’m too fond of animals.”
Wight added: “If a farmer calls me with a sick animal, he couldn’t care less if I were George Bernard Shaw.”
Somewhat more at ease under the glare of TV cameras, Peter Wright, who was trained in Thirsk by Herriot himself, works out of Grace Lane Vets in Kirkbymoorside after leaving his former boss’s Skeldale Veterinary Centre.
Meanwhile, Julian Norton – Peter’s former partner at Skeldale – has opened a practice in Thirsk, which he runs alongside his wife Anne, and is also a partner at Sandbeck Veterinary Centre in Wetherby.
Just when you think the links to Herriot are fading, the cameras also follow a team of young vets at Donaldson’s practice in West Yorkshire, who are following in their footsteps.
They’re based at a state-of-the-art animal hospital in Huddersfield but are a traditional mixed practice: their work involves caring for farm animals, wildlife and popular pets as well as some that are more exotic. We’re sure the Farnon brothers would approve.
As always, the ‘action’ is a mix of dealing with an assortment of feathered and furred patients, while the vets featured in the series encounter all kinds of colourful characters, including larger-than-life, straight-talking farmers, and it’s all set against the glorious background of Yorkshire – dubbed God’s Own Country by those who live there.
While we put a pin in that long-running debate, a Vizsla puppy needs treatment after eating a washing up-sponge for the second time. As dog-lovers up and down the country nod their heads in sympathy, Julian successfully removes it and sets out to give ‘Sponge Dog’ a clean bill of health.
Cameras catch up with Peter, who is at the Greens’ farm to deal with Sneeze the calf, who has become a bit of a bully, and Jean has a surprise in store for her favourite vet. Back at the practice, he has to deal with the most overgrown tortoise beak he’s ever seen.
Meanwhile, David rushes out to a local farm where a ewe has suffered an unusual, life-threatening prolapse.
There’s an equally nerve-wracking, but hopefully positive, situation facing vet Shona, who is hoping to find out that lots of her sheep are pregnant.
Finally, over at Cannon Hall Farm, Julian and Matt prepare to operate on Tricky Dicky the feisty donkey to help him find a forever home.
Fingers crossed it’s a roaring success.