All Creatures Great and Small, review: is there anything more gloriously British?

by 24britishtvSept. 16, 2021, 11 p.m. 31
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The Government wants public service broadcasters to make shows that promote “Britishness”. On Wednesday, John Whittingdale (then media minister, now retired to the backbenches) delivered a speech written by Oliver Dowden (Culture Secretary that morning, co-chairman of the party by lunchtime) which called for more programmes like Carry On, Only Fools and Horses and Fleabag.

For some reason, they didn’t mention All Creatures Great and Small (Channel 5). But is there anything more gloriously British? Have the Yorkshire Dales ever looked so beautiful? In this first episode of the second series, there was a shot of Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West) getting out of his beautiful vintage car in the sunshine, with the rolling hills behind him; it was balm for the soul.

Nothing has changed for series two, which is exactly how it should be. It took all of five minutes before we saw James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) with his arm half-way up a sheep. Prior to that, he was doing a spot of locum work at a shiny practice in Glasgow complete with newfangled X-ray machine. But his heart is in Darrowby, and still belongs to Helen (Rachel Shenton). It looks as if their love affair is going to be a slow burn.

There are few dramas these days that could be described as gentle. This proves that gentleness doesn’t have to be dull. It is a delight. The bite is supplied by Siegfried, who is a softie underneath but gets the best lines: “If you have a point, Mrs Hall, I’d rather you got on and stabbed me with it.”

And there was a storyline as vehicle for the comic timing of Callum Woodhouse as Tristan. When blind Mrs Tompkins mentioned that her budgie had never made a sound, then Tristan accidentally killed him, you could see from a mile off that he would switch it for a trilling replacement, and a bemused Mrs Tompkins would say: “He’s like a different bird!”

I’ll take it on trust that sheep keel over from stress-related calcium deficiency when worried by a dog. But for viewers, this is the most stress-relieving show of the week.

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