'All Creatures Great & Small' Introduces James' New "Right Hand Man"

Picture shows: James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) and Helen Herriot (Rachel Shenton) relax under a tree on the Alderson's farm.

James (Nicholas Ralph) and Helen Herriot (Rachel Shenton).

Credit: Courtesy of Playground Entertainment and MASTERPIECE

Episode 3 of All Creatures Great & Small opens with veterinarian James Herriot and his wife Helen napping on a grassy slope at her family farm, Heston Grange. It’s a warm, sunny spring day, but spring in the Yorkshire Dales means lambing season, which in turn means night calls and broken sleep for veterinarians and farmers. Farmer Richard Alderson (Tony Pitts), Helen’s father, is unimpressed by the younger generation’s lack of stamina. There’s work to be done! Helen remarks to James that they should view it as practice for anticipated broken nights as young parents, but that seems a long way off, if not an impossibility, with so much work and so little time together.

Seigfried: Richard Carmody? From London? He won’t last. 

James, however, has a cunning plan when his future right-hand man arrives. He’s a student with an excellent academic record, and James sees himself as a  mentor. Mr. Alderson is skeptical. Star veterinary student Richard Carmody (James Anthony-Rose), fresh from London, arrives in Darrowby and discovers the signposts around town have been removed to confuse the enemy in the event of an invasion. After wandering in circles, he arrives at Skeldale House, where James rushes him into the examination room. Siegfried has taken it as a personal affront Mrs. Hall is making up Tristan’s bed for the newcomer, and Mrs. Hall has been instructed to find lodgings nearby. 

But if you think that's awkward, wait until we get into the examination room. Mrs. Pumphrey has arrived with a dire emergency and a large white boxer dog she’s fostering while his owner is at war. Cedric has a particularly noxious problem that Mrs. Pumphrey, as a well-bred gentlewoman, cannot articulate. Cedric suffers from an excess of wind, to put it mildly, and as Richard is introduced to Mrs. Pumphrey, there is a suspicious sound. Mrs. Pumphrey comments that the room is very cozy, inhabited as it is at the moment by herself, Richard, James, Cedric, and François (Joseph May) carrying Tricki.* 

(*Latest casting news: the role of Tricki in Season 4 is shared by Derek and newcomer Dora!)
Picture shows: James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) and Richard Carmody (James Anthony-Rose)

James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) and Richard Carmody (James Anthony-Rose).

Credit: Courtesy of Playground Entertainment and MASTERPIECE

James and Richard discuss the dog’s diet, recommending low protein and a charcoal supplement. Mrs. Pumphrey mentions she may stage her annual garden party outdoors so guests will not suffer from Cedric’s affliction. Richard suggests she put the dog outside instead, leaving Pumphrey unimpressed. She insists on addressing him as Mr. Cardomy and agrees with Tricki agree he’s no Uncle Herriot! Siegfried, out of sorts after the suggestion Tristan’s bedroom could be used by Richard, cross-questions him. Richard is the top student in his year and specializes in equine science. Standards have dropped then, Siegfried suggests, since Richard arrived late. Richard calmly argues his case. He was on time, even with getting lost in the town. Mrs. Hall invites the shy young man to supper. Siegfried hears Germany has broken through French lines, but Mrs. Hall distracts him by reminding him he has a call to make at the Chapman farm, Grace (Cat Simmons) and Annie (Cleo Sylvestre). 

The Champmans' horse, Teasel, is sick with the Heaves, vernacular for pulmonary emphysema. She’s a working horse and belongs to their son/grandson, Tom, who is away at war. In the Christmas special of Season 2, it was Ann Chapman who persuaded James and Helen that they should follow their hearts and ignore what people would say. As a woman of color in the very white Yorkshire Dales, Annie has had some experience of defying conventions. As Siegfried chats with the two women, a group of soldiers in training runs through the yard. (Siegfried encountered them earlier when they left a gate open, a potentially serious issue with livestock.) Grace, exasperated by the frequent incursions of troops onto the farm, has mixed feelings. She should be grateful for what they do (and on another farm, somewhere in Europe, that could be her son), but she finds it hard to put up with ignorant strangers on her land.

Brace yourselves for another awkward, indirect conversation between Mrs. Hall and Gerald as they walk the dogs. He knows there’s something important and is afraid she’s going to dump him. She reluctantly tells him she’s started the divorce paperwork and is nervous about how her husband, Robert, will react. He assures her she has nothing to be ashamed of and that she should hold her head high. Meanwhile, Siegfried and Richard are getting on famously, talking shop and swapping Latin jokes no one else understands (it’s like having two Boris Johnsons in the house). 

Picture shows: Teasel the horse, farmers Ann Chapman (Cleo Sylvestre) and Grace Chapman (Cat Simmons)

Farmers Cleo Sylvestre) (Cat Simmons), Ann Chapman (Grace Chapman) and their horse Teazel.

Credit: Courtesy of Playground Entertainment and MASTERPIECE

They leave to check on Teasel, and James visits Mrs. Pumphrey and Cedric. When he arrives, Mrs. Pumphrey is napping. Not wanting to disturb her, sleep-deprived James sits down nearby and promptly falls asleep himself. He is woken by Cedric greeting him with massive enthusiasm. Mrs. Pumphrey, exasperated by Cedric, complains that he is needy, large, and loud from both ends. James suggests more exercise. The next day is Mrs. Pumphrey’s tea party, a lavish outdoor affair, which Helen and James plan to sneak away from so they can have "a quiet afternoon." 

Richard, while full of admiration for those who have signed up for military duty, is convinced that his service to the country is to make sure that everyone has enough food. Churchill has warned of hard times ahead, and Richard is convinced he is of the greatest value to his country as a veterinarian. Siegfried meets the young soldiers who left a gate open, and impresses upon them the importance of respecting farmers’ property. He also offers to teach Richard to drive, and James is flabbergasted (and possibly a bit jealous, too). “How did I become Tristan?” James asks as he considers the new pecking order at Skeldale. Meanwhile, the afternoon is wearing away, and Helen is annoyed that James is spending time arguing about a dog’s digestive system instead of keeping to their agreement of leaving early. 

Siegfried has a friendly chat with Gerald and seems to be getting on really well until Gerald realizes that Siegfried and others have known about Mrs. Hall’s divorce much longer than he has. When he asks Mrs. Hall about it, she says she didn’t want to bother him in case it didn’t come to anything. He’s angry but explains to her that he’s not like her ex. She can come to him about anything, and they kiss, reconciled for the moment. Mrs Pumphrey meanwhile questions James about Helen, who tells her he got his priorities wrong and angered her. Mrs. Pumphrey orders him to go home, but on the drive, he finds Teasel with a stake from a fence stuck in her chest and rushes back to Mrs. Pumphrey’s to find Siegfried and Richard.

Picture shows: James Carmody (Richard Anthony-Rose), Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West), and Mrs. Pumphrey (Patricia Hodge) look on in alarm as Cedric the dog causes chaos at the tea party.

What's Cedric up to? James Carmody (Richard Anthony-Rose), Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West), and Mrs. Pumphrey (Patricia Hodge) look on in alarm.

Credit: Courtesy of Playground Entertainment and MASTERPIECE

Back at the party, Cedric has broken free and is gorging himself on the party food. It’s chaotic, and Helen, who really doesn’t want to leave without James, finds the dog. She points out to Mrs. Pumphrey that his owner is a soldier, and his behavior may well be from separation anxiety. He had a few items Mrs. Pumphrey considered too dirty for her house, and when Cedric’s blanket is retrieved, he settles down peacefully on it with Tricki next to him. Mrs. Pumphrey reminisces about her late husband, who loved dogs almost as much as she does. She advises Helen to forgive James.

Poor Teasel's injury looks horrible but hasn’t hit any major organs. Grace is upset about the injury and her son’s absence and fearful that she and her mother won’t be able to carry on running the farm. Luckily, some soldiers, including Private Sidney Briggs (Olly Rhodes), whom Siegfried lectured about shutting gates, didn’t know anything about farms or livestock but noticed that a lot of the gates were broken. With Siegfried’s encouragement, he visits the Chapmans’ farm and offers to help the two women with chores, starting with fixing gates.

James and Helen reconcile at Mrs. Pumphrey’s house and meet up with Siegfried and Richard at the pub. James offers Richard to Siegfried as his assistant, really a much better match as the student is book-smart but doesn’t have much idea of how to deal with people. Siegfried suggests, as a start, that Richard might want to consider keeping his thoughts to himself when he is tempted to show off his learning. Mrs. Hall drops by to announce that she and Gerald are going to the movies and it’s leftovers for dinner. Finally, James and Helen find themselves alone at Skeldale House; although Helen is so tired, she really only wants to sleep. She wonders why she is so emotional and grumpy, but it’s not until she consults her diary and finds that despite her limited sleep and few opportunities to be alone with James, she is pregnant.

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All Creatures Great And Small

James Herriot’s adventures as a veterinarian in 1930’s Yorkshire get a new TV adaptation.
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Janet Mullany

Writer Janet Mullany is from England, drinks a lot of tea, and likes Jane Austen, reading, and gasping in shock at costumes in historical TV dramas. Her household near Washington DC includes two badly-behaved cats about whom she frequently boasts on Facebook.

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