Where We Left Everyone in 'All Creatures Great and Small' Season 1

The cast of All Creatures Great and Small Season 1
 The cast of 'All Creatures Great and Small' Season 1 (Photo: Courtesy of Playground Television (UK) Ltd.)

All Creatures Great and Small returns this Sunday for a second season. The first season, which aired in January of 2021, was a surprise hit for PBS and Masterpiece, bringing mainstream audiences to the Yorkshire Dales the same way Downton Abbey once did for grand houses and posh estates. But the year since the show finished its freshman run has been long and stressful, with pandemic lockdowns coming and going and new variants rising at inconvenient times, bringing stress to everyone's lives. 

Fans can be forgiven if it seems like a long time since Season 1. Though it's only been twelve months, fans could use a refresh to resettle their minds into the interwar period far away in the farmlands of the English countryside. So let's run down everything you might have forgotten happened in Season 1.

The series begins with the arrival of  James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph), a veterinary surgeon, to the dales of Yorkshire after accepting an offer to work for/apprentice with Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West), owner of Skeldale House and the head veterinary surgeon of the practice. His arrival doesn't seem promising. Farnon is eccentric and gets a kick out of abusing his new employee, though the housekeeper, Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley), is kindly. Harriot finds himself the butt of jokes for locals, frustrated and unhappy being so far from his home in Scotland and unappreciated by his employer.

But over time, Herriot manages to win Franon's trust and respect, starting with a successful breach birthing a calf of one of the local cows. He makes friends with Tristan (Callum Woodhouse), Farnon's younger brother and a would-be vet in training, meets Mers. Pumphrey (the late Diana Rigg) and her beloved pup Tricki-Woo (Derek the Dog) and starts crushing on local farmer's daughter Helen (Rachel Shenton), inconveniently already engaged to marry the wealthy Hugh Hulton (Matthew Lewis). Along the way, he saves the lives of cows with milk fever, bad pregnancies, and other interesting ailments. But the one creature he cannot save is Helen's beloved bull, which he must put down.

By the end of Season 1, Herriot is now senior vet, and his relationship with Helen becomes more complicated, as she realizes she does not want to marry Hugh and has feelings for James. The Christmas special/season finale ended with her jilting her fiance at the altar, paving the way for a will they or won't they in the new season. Tristan got back together with Maggie (Mollie Winnard), but he failed his final vet exams, which Siegfried is quietly covering up. As for Farnon, he has a love interest in Diana Brompton (Dorothy Atkinson) who will be around in the new season. Plus, there will be more cow saving, sheep saving, and even a pig or two.

All Creatures Great and Small Season 2 premieres on most PBS stations on Sunday, Jan. 9, at 9 p.m. ET and will be available for binge-watching on PBS Passport starting the same day. As always, check your local listings.