New season for The Yorkshire Vet

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Tuesday: The Yorkshire Vet (Channel 5, 8pm)

Skeldale Veterinary Centre in Thirsk is world famous for being the surgery where vet and author James Alfred Wight, aka James Herriot, worked and found his inspiration for his semi-autobiographical writings.

And when documentary series The Yorkshire Vet first aired in 2015, it understandably made the most of its links to Herriot.

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However, it has come a long way in the 15 seasons since, and the popular slice of midweek TV escapism no longer has to solely rely on the connection to get people tuning in.

Julian Norton continues the Herriot traditionJulian Norton continues the Herriot tradition
Julian Norton continues the Herriot tradition

Having learned all he knows about the profession from the famous animal lover himself, vet Peter Wright remained at Skeldale for most of his career.

However, in 2021, he made the big decision to move on to another practice – Grace Lane Vets in Kirkbymoorside.

Speaking to last year, the 66-year-old explained why he made the decision.

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“We just don’t have the numbers in the area,” he said. “When I came to work in this James Herriot practice in 1982, we had something like 60 small dairy herds. At the end of 2020, we had one left. The bigger farm enterprises are getting bigger and the small family farms are disappearing.

“And so I had to make a decision. It wasn’t economically viable for Skeldale to continue doing purely companion animal work.

“I had to decide whether I should hand my stethoscope in. I came home from work to discuss it with my wife Lin. And her response was quite succinct, really. She said, ‘I don’t want you under my feet all day long!’”

Therefore, Peter started a new chapter and tonight we are back with him and his former colleague, Castleford-born Julian Norton, as they continue the Herriot tradition.

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Since Peter left Skeldale, Julian has opened a practice back in Thirsk, which he runs alongside his wife, Anne. He is also a partner at Sandbeck Veterinary Centre in Wetherby.

Joining the pair in upholding the Herriot ethos are a team of young vets at the Donaldson’s practice in Huddersfield, including Matt Smith, Shona Searson, David Melleney and Rohin Aojula.

And although they are based at a state-of-the-art animal hospital, Donaldson’s is a traditional mixed practice and their work involves caring for a wide range of creatures including farm animals, wildlife, popular pets, as well as some that are a bit more exotic.

In tonight’s edition, Julian operates on a French Bulldog who has injured one of his three legs.

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Meanwhile, Peter and Shona have some donkey work to do at the Greens’ farm to solve a problem between Sybil and Fernando.

Plus, Matt rushes to a local farm to try and save a ewe and her unborn lamb, before finding himself in the unwanted sequel to Snakes on a Plane – the vet has lost his pet snake in his car.

Once again, the series will be narrated by actor Christopher Timothy, known for his role as Herriot in a certain TV drama.

The legendary vet passed away in 1995, and if he’s looking down, he would surely approve of his protege and veterinary colleagues continuing to improve the lives of all creatures great and small.

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