Herriot’s old home has fans Russian in

James Herriot
James Herriot
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It has been out of production for nearly 30 years, but All Creatures Great and Small, the TV series about the Yorkshire vet James Herriot, is still a staple in Russia, with Cyrillic subtitles and Christopher Timothy’s voice dubbed into the local vernacular.

Although dating back to the Soviet era, the show remains so popular there that fans have taken to making pilgrimages to Herriot’s old practice in Thirsk, which has become a visitor attraction.

It has now laid out the welcome mat for them by launching a version of its website in Russian and hiring a native speaker to promote it to east European tourists.

“Our aim is to open up Herriot Country and its many attractions to fans and others in Russian speaking countries,” said Ian Ashton, managing director of The World of James Herriot, which previously staged an exhibition at the State Darwin Museum in Moscow.

“It doesn’t seem fair to keep all this wonderful stuff to ourselves” he added.

Alfiya Stephenson, who hails from central Asia and now lives in North Yorkshire, has been appointed to spread the word in Russian.

“Would you believe there has rarely been a year since the 1970s when the Herriot TV programme hasn’t aired in the former Soviet Union,” she said.

The country was alive with fan clubs who met to watch and discuss repeats of the BBC series, some of which had been posted on YouTube, she added.

“There is even a school in Russia using the Herriot books to teach English language to children.”

The Russian website also promotes other the attractions of the surrounding countryside, including clay pigeon shooting, horse riding, off road driving and visits to stately homes, traditional pubs and breweries.