The beloved remake of All Creatures Great & Small is heading back to PBS in January, bringing with it a time before the internet and cellphones, the idyllic dales of Yorkshire, and endless cows in distress. However, unlike the original series, which moved at both lightning speed to marry James and Helen and a glacial pace in order never to leave the pre-World War II setting, the new version follows the current period piece trend of advancing the story by one year per season, echoing the same slow march of time experienced by viewers. That means Season 4 will bring us properly into the 1940s and the thick of the fighting.
Not that Yorkshire will see battle. Instead, the war will be felt as an outside force, forcing rations and taking away loved ones, including fan-favorite Tristan Farnon (Callum Woodhouse), who left to "do his bit" at the end of Season 3's Christmas special. His absence and the growing need for more help will force Tristan's brother Seigfried (Samuel West) and partner in vet work, James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph), to hire on two new faces for the coming season, expanding the core cast beyond the two of them, plus James' wife Helen (Rachel Shenton) and housekeeper Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley) with the introduction of Neve McIntosh (Shetland) as highly efficient bookkeeper Miss Harbottle and James Anthony-Rose (Slow Horses) as undergraduate vet student Richard Carmody.
However, the trailer for the new season promises that for all the troubles of World War II and the new characters and the drama they bring, the core concern of All Creatures Great and Small has not and will not change. It's all about the animals.
Here's the Season 4 synopsis:
It's the spring of 1940 and change is on the horizon for everyone in Skeldale House. James and Helen wonder when the right time might be to start a family, Tristan’s absence is felt by all, and Siegfried attempts to hold the growing household, and himself, together.
Along with the usual lead cast, Patricia Hodge will return as Mrs. Humphrey along with Derek the Dog, who plays everyone's favorite good boy, Tricki Woo, Imogen Clawson as Helen's sister Jenny, and Will Thorp will be back as Mrs. Hall's sweetheart, Gerald Hammond. Season 4 brings aboard a new team of writers with Jamie Crichton (Grantchester), Maxine Alderton (Doctor Who), and Helen Raynor (Call the Midwife) taking over from series creator Ben Vanstone (A Gentleman in Moscow), who only pens this season's Christmas special.
Most PBS stations will rebroadcast All Creatures Great and Small Season 3 in December ahead of the Season 4 premiere, with two episodes a week starting Sunday, December 10, at 9 p.m. - 11 p.m. ET, and ending on Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, 2023, with two episodes plus the Christmas special, airing from 8 p.m. - 11 p.m. ET. As a reminder, these rebroadcasts are left up to local PBS stations as to when they actually air them, so check your local listings to see if they're following this schedule or not. All episodes of Seasons 1-3 episodes are also available on PBS Passport for members to stream anytime.
All Creatures Great and Small Season 4 returns to PBS on Sunday, January 6, at 9 p.m. ET and will air one episode a week through Sunday, February 18, 2024. All seven episodes of Season 4 will arrive on PBS Passport for members to stream on premiere day. As always, check your local listings.