The Yorkshire Vet Channel 5: TV vet Peter Wright shares preview of what’s to come in series 17 of the Channel 5 show and how the industry has changed for young vets over the years

The Yorkshire Vet’s Peter Wright has divulged some of his favourite moments filming as well as some more emotional scenes fans can expect in series 17 of the Channel 5 show.

Growing up on a farm in the countryside, Peter Wright had been surrounded by animals from a young age. When he was just five years old, he would stand at the gate and feed the cattle from his hand and through his close contact with farm animals and wildlife and socialising with farmers, his love for animals grew into a lifelong career that he has gradually nurtured.

He turned to veterinary medicine under the guidance of original Yorkshire vets, James Herriot and Donald Sinclair and has since carved himself an impressive reputation in the veterinary world which led to starring in the Channel 5 show The Yorkshire Vet alongside long-term colleagues Julian Norton and Matt Jackson-Smith.

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Peter has published his latest book The Tales and Tails of a Yorkshire Vet: All in a Day’s Work earlier this year that captures memories of some of his funniest, most shocking and emotional interactions with animals.

Peter with donkey Sybil. (Pic credit: Daisybeck Studios / Channel 5)Peter with donkey Sybil. (Pic credit: Daisybeck Studios / Channel 5)
Peter with donkey Sybil. (Pic credit: Daisybeck Studios / Channel 5)

Just like his mentors, Peter is well known for his humble personality on TV and in real life he is no different.

He spoke to The Yorkshire Post about his passion for animals and his encounters with fans of the show.

“I was very lucky to be brought up in the North Yorkshire countryside around Thirsk where we were just surrounded by domesticated animals, farm animals and wildlife,” Peter said.

“They start coming up to you and you start stroking them.

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Peter with cows. (Pic credit: Daisybeck Studios / Channel 5)Peter with cows. (Pic credit: Daisybeck Studios / Channel 5)
Peter with cows. (Pic credit: Daisybeck Studios / Channel 5)

“I often meet fans when I’m out and about in this country and beyond and people often say ‘You’re just like you are on the television’, and my response to that is that I can never act to save my life, I’d be useless. What you see is what you get.

“I think if you are a fake and you are faking it, people will see through you to be honest.

“A lot of [episodes] for series 17 have already been filmed and we probably have one or two more to do.

“Obviously I can’t say much about any [future seasons] except to say that I’ve been asked not to retire.”

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Peter with Cleo. (Pic credit: Peter Wright)Peter with Cleo. (Pic credit: Peter Wright)
Peter with Cleo. (Pic credit: Peter Wright)

Series 17 was not originally meant to air until autumn but due to its popularity and demand, Channel 5 brought the series forward a month.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be on the screens just yet because it wasn’t long since the spring series finished and Channel 5 decided rather than waiting until autumn for series 17 to come out, they brought it forward to August,” he said.

“I think the reason for that is popular demand because our viewing figures remain incredibly strong, even after eight years of filming.

“It’s really a credit to people that are involved in making the programme, particularly Daisybeck Studios in Leeds who put everything together.

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Peter on his bike ride. (Pic credit: Daisybeck Studios / Channel 5)Peter on his bike ride. (Pic credit: Daisybeck Studios / Channel 5)
Peter on his bike ride. (Pic credit: Daisybeck Studios / Channel 5)

“When they are making a programme I liken it to sitting down with a 1,000-piece jigsaw and putting all the bits together and what comes out the other end is fantastic.

“We just do our work and the film crews diligently follow us and I think it’s very much a team production; everybody has to do their bit. But it isn’t just about our work, it’s about the animals and it’s the fact we live in such a beautiful part of the countryside that makes the programme what it is, plus the local characters that we have.

“I think when you put all of this into the mix, that’s why The Yorkshire Vet is as successful as it is.”

When describing some moments to come, Peter reflects on what makes the show real and raw as well as his favourite and most challenging cases he has had to take on.

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“There are lots of things I enjoy doing and it’s no secret that I love springtime; it’s a time of new beginnings, of fresh hope and new life,” he said.

“Sometimes things don’t always go according to plan; the film crew as well as myself get despondent when things don’t always go as we would like.

“I had a lambing to do, this was 18 months ago now, the ewe had been trying to produce for some time and by the time I saw her and carried out a caesarian section, the lambs had sadly all passed away.

“I think what is important is that on The Yorkshire Vet we do show the bad times as well as the good times; to appreciate the good times, you have got to have the downsides and we certainly get those as veterinary surgeons.

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“Another case I’ve been involved with is Jenny, a female donkey that gave birth and that’s quite a heart-wrenching story as well because the baby foal was quite ill. It was quite an emotional story.

“Again, I don’t want to spoil it for the viewers as to whether it’s a good ending or a bad ending. I think that sometimes these things don’t turn out as you would like and other times they do.

“We all have our comfort zones where we’re working with animals and dealing with procedures that we are really familiar with.

“I don’t want to spoil this one for people because it’s something a bit different, but I’ve had a Koi Carp come in to see me with eye ulcers.

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“I was out of my comfort zone and as veterinary surgeons we sometimes have to improvise and adapt our skills to take into account the position we’re in.

“Certainly dealing with a Koi Carp with eye ulcers was something I had never dealt with before in over 40 years of working. So you have to learn and think about what is the best way to deal with different situations. I won’t spoil this for the viewers but we’ll see how we get on with the Koi Carp case in the next series.”

In September the Channel 5 show will cover the Coast To Coast Cycle Challenge Peter completed to raise money for Herriot Hospice in Thirsk.

Though he admitted that he is not a ‘natural cyclist’, the vet cycled 170-miles along the Roses Way route from Morecambe to Bridlington.

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Thanks to Yorkshire Vet fans, he has raised £30,000 for the hospice that means a lot to him.

“I’ve completed a bike ride; I’m not a natural cyclist but I want to raise money for our hospice in Thirsk,” he said.

“There was the old cottage hospital that was given to provide the hospice a base; they only give care to terminally ill people in their own homes at present because they haven’t got a base.

“They've been given a lab in Thirsk, but that was abandoned by the NHS about 10 years ago and it needed £1.7 million spending on it to transform it into a hospice. I thought I’d use my notoriety as best I can to help raise funds for this.

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“There is a personal side to this as well because both of my grandfathers died in the old cottage hospital that was.

“Nowadays, if people do need hospice care, they’ve got to travel nearly 30 miles to the nearest hospice and that’s really not good at all for anyone, particularly for nearest and dearest families who are going through enough trauma and stress at the time without all the travelling.

“So far I’ve raised just over £30,000 for the hospice, a lot of it down to the generosity of our fans of the Yorkshire Vet.

“I was quite proud to complete that. That will be shown in September. It has raised awareness on a wider scale and I’m so pleased I’ve been able to help but that’s what we do here in Yorkshire.”

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The generosity from Yorkshire folk prompted Peter to reflect on what makes the region special to him.

“That’s one of the endearing features of Yorkshire for me is that people do rally round and help each other and certainly all the communities I’ve lived in and around Thirsk, [we have a] fantastic spirit, where we do support each other. I think that’s something that’s very typical of Yorkshire life.

“Farmers do help each other and you see the camaraderie of that when you go to places like the Great Yorkshire Show.

“Yes there are competitions involved in showing animals and everyone wants to do well but at the end of the day they are all sitting around together, having a few beers, having a good laugh and that’s typical of what I see at the Great Yorkshire Show year in and year out.”

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With the vast growth of technology, Peter has seen a consistent struggle faced by young graduates entering into the veterinary field.

“Our life as vet surgeons has changed dramatically and the pace of change has continued over the last few years with the increase in technical abilities and technical knowledge and I think this doesn’t make it easy for young vet surgeons, recently qualified, to get their heads around these things,” he said.

“Yes, a lot of the technology can be very useful in helping us with our patients, but at the same time it can be quite daunting as well.

“In human medicine, things are moving so quickly, with new therapies, new diagnostics and new surgical techniques and I think because people are seeing these things developing in the human world, they are now wanting it for their pets as well.

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“That’s why the pace of change is so rapid. With Artificial Intelligence [developing], where is that going to lead us?

“I’m [heading] towards the twilight of my career and it will bypass me, though I think it’s a very exciting time.

“But having said all that, as vet surgeons, we still have to consider that our patients are families.

“We must never lose sight of that and we must never lose the empathy for our patients, despite what is happening with technology.

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“Why did we go down that route to become vets? We didn’t go down that route because we love dealing with gadgets, we went down that route because of our love and respect for animals.”

The third episode of series 17 airs today (August 22) at 8pm on Channel 5.

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