Channel 5 Teams Up With PBS Masterpiece For New Adaptation Of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’

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27 Jun 19

Channel 5 Teams Up With PBS Masterpiece For New Adaptation Of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’

Channel 5 has teamed up with US network PBS Masterpiece and ‘Howards End’/’Wolf Hall’ producers Playground to create a new adaptation of James Herriot’s classic book series All Creatures Great and Small it has been announced today.

The original book series was written by veterinary surgeon Alf Wight under the pen name James Herriot, and followed the heartwarming and humorous adventures of a young country vet, along with his unconventional mentor and the cast of farmers and townsfolk, who lived and worked in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s. However, most people probably know the story from the previous tv adaptation starring Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy, and Peter Davison which aired on BBC One from 1978 to 1990.

“James Herriot has a special place in the heart of the public and the commission of this iconic drama series, against the stunning backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales, is set to bring joy to a new army of TV viewers,” commented Channel 5 Digital Channel Controller Sebastian Cardwell who commissioned the series. “The original books affectionately captured a unique slice of British life; in challenging times, we hope the charming and heart-warming stories of community and compassion will resonate with new audiences.”

This new adaptation of the books will shoot in the Yorkshire Dales in 2020, and consists of six episodes and a Christmas special. Ben Vanstone, whose previous work includes ‘The Last Kingdom’, ‘Merlin’ and ‘EastEnders’ is lead writer and exec producer, with ‘Downton Abbey’ director Brian Percival set as the lead director. Richard Burrell (‘Silent Witness’) will produce, with Colin Callender and Melissa Gallant as exec producers for Playground, alongside Hugo Heppell for Screen Yorkshire and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece.

There is no news on casting yet, but it would be nice if some of the cast from the original tv adaptation could be involved, even if it is only in cameo roles. At it’s peak, the BBC version pulled in audiences of over 13 million viewers. The licensing for the books is now under the control of Alf’s children, Rosie and Jim, who are very protective of their father’s work, and only would agree to a new adaptation if they believed it would be done well, something of which Playground is very much aware.

“Revisiting James Herriot’s beloved stories is an immense privilege and we are honoured that Alf Wight’s family have entrusted us with his legacy. It is a responsibility we take very seriously,” adds Colin Callender, Executive Producer and CEO of Playground. “At a time when the country feels more divided than ever, Herriot’s glorious books remind us how to connect and belong again. The series will embrace the fun and the nostalgia of revisiting the England of the past, while celebrating Herriot’s values that, despite all our current upheaval, still underpin British life today.”

The new adaptation of ‘All Creatures Great and Small‘ will air on Channel 5 in the UK and Masterpiece on PBS in the US.