A big hit in its day as a memoir and in its earlier television adaptations, the 2021 production of All Creatures Great and Small at long last has been assigned an air date on PBS Masterpiece.
This latest adaptation of the beloved book by James Herriot has been highly anticipated by fans of the veterinarian-turned-memoirist’s work.
Here’s what we know.
Masterpiece’s program will be a new adaptation
This latest adaptation of James Herriot’s classic book will reportedly be a six-part series to be produced by Richard Burrell. Directing will be handled by Brian Percival, who also directed many episodes of the Downton Abbey television series.
The cast will include newcomer Nicholas Ralph as Herriot; Samuel West as Siegfried Farnon; Anna Madeley as housekeeper Mrs. Hall; Callum Woodhouse as Siegfried’s younger brother, Tristan; and Rachel Shenton as Helen Alderson, the woman who won Herriot’s heart and became his wife.
Herriot’s book has been dramatized for television twice: once as a made-for-TV film in 1975 featuring legendary actor Anthony Hopkins as Herriot’s snippy mentor, Farnon. It was also adapted as a television series in 1978.
The author of the bucolic classic experienced deep depression
All Creatures Great and Small and Herriot’s books that came after it all presented a warm and joyful look at his life as a veterinarian in rural England in the early 20th century. The author’s engrossing and downright funny stories were based on his own experiences as an animal doctor in the peaceful English countryside.
Herriot, according to his son, Jim Wight, in a 2010 interview with The Daily Mail, lived with depression for many of his years.
“My dad had a wonderfully happy life,” Wight said, “but it was one that included little periods of depression, or whatever you like to call it.”
Wight described a severe moment his father experienced.
“He had the big one – a proper nervous breakdown – when I was in sixth form, but there were other little episodes, never lasting very long, throughout his life.”
“Once, when he was having one of these attacks, I asked what was wrong, and he said he didn’t know. He couldn’t describe it as anything other than ‘overwhelming melancholy.’”
PBS Masterpiece’s ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ will air in Jan. 2021
The latest production of All Creatures Great and Small will air on Masterpiece on PBS on Jan. 10, 2021.
Published in 1972, All Creatures Great and Small continues to capture readers’ imaginations all these years later. It was followed up, thanks to its enormous success, by more memoirs from Herriot, including All Things Bright and Beautiful in 1974 and All Things Wise and Wonderful in 1976.
Lead actor Nicholas Ralph spoke with The Irish News in August about the similarities he discovered between himself and Herriot.
“He’s got a lot of passion and commitment to his field and that was like me,” Ralph said. “Once I found acting, I was completely enveloped in it – and haven’t looked back. He has little intricacies; sometimes he can be a little socially awkward… Little quirks that I could identify with. I had fun with them as well.”
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