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World Screen Newsflash

August 11, 2020


All Creatures Great and Small Revisited

Acclaimed executive producer and former president of HBO Films, Colin Callender—whose TV credits include Angels in America and Wolf Hall and whose theater credits feature the Broadway smash hits Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Dear Evan Hansen—took part in an exclusive interview with World Screen to talk about Playground’s latest series, All Creatures Great and Small. He was joined by show producer Melissa Gallant in a session moderated by Kristin Brzoznowski, World Screen’s executive editor.

All Creatures Great and Small is a new adaptation of a series of best-selling novels about a young Scottish vet working in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Produced by Callender’s Playground, the show preserves the rich spirit, tone and values of James Herriot’s iconic characters and the stories are set in the picturesque English countryside. The expertly crafted series takes us back to the 1930s, evoking memories of a simpler time.

As Callender notes, “The whole point of revisiting the series was that we felt that there was an appetite for harking back to days gone by, a time when family and community were the sort of core values at the heart of life. We felt there was a way to make it work for a contemporary audience, that the psychological underpinning of the characters could be further explored. We felt that the role of women in this society could be dramatized more fully and had the opportunity to shoot in glorious high-definition technology, which brings the world of the Yorkshire Dales to life in a fresh way. There’s also a tremendous amount of gentle humor. Perhaps most of all, I remember with great affection the days as a family when we would sit down and watch television together when we were growing up. And my feeling was that audiences want that, and that's clearly what's happened during the lockdown.” 


The narrative follows James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph’s screen debut) as he embarks on his dream of becoming a vet, soon realizing that treating animals is as much about treating their owners—and the Dales’ farmers are a tough crowd to please. Samuel West (Mr Selfridge, On Chesil Beach) joins as Siegfried Farnon, the wonderfully eccentric veterinary surgeon who reluctantly hires the recently qualified Herriot. The cast also includes Anna Madeley (The Child in Time, Patrick Melrose) as resident housekeeper Mrs Hall; Callum Woodhouse (The Durrells) as Siegfried’s charismatic younger brother Tristan and Rachel Shenton (Switched at Birth, White Gold) as Helen Alderson, an independent local farmer’s daughter. The stunning series also includes a marvelous supporting cast, featuring Nigel Havers (Chariots of Fire), Matthew Lewis (Harry Potter) and the inimitable Dame Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones, Victoria), not to mention a whole host of charming animals, including Tricki Woo.

All Creatures Great and Small is a Playground production for Masterpiece on PBS and Channel 5 in association with all3media international and Screen Yorkshire.

See all3media international’s Summer 2020 Showcase here.

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