Channel 5 announces when the All Creatures Great and Small Christmas episode will air

Channel 5 says the eagerly anticipated Christmas special will air twice over the festive period - and hints at the continuing romance between James and Helen. Stephanie Smith reports.

The All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special will air on December 22 at 9pm, with a repeat on Boxing Day at 7.45pm, placing it at the heart of the Channel 5 TV offer. The news comes after the announcement from Channel 5 that filming is set to recommence in the Yorkshire Dales next year for the second series of the critically acclaimed hit revamp of the James Herriot stories.

To whet the appetite of fans eager to know what happens next to lovelorn vet James Herriot, Channel 5 released a series of intriguing production photographs taken while filming in the Yorkshire Dales earlier this year before the first lockdown.

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The preview images suggest that, while we here in 2020 face the prospect of a rather curtailed holiday season, in the Yorkshire of the 1930s, the Christmas spirit of togetherness and community is very much alive and well, as James, the Farnon brothers and housekeeper Mrs Hall all appear to prepare for the festivities at their home at Skeldale House in the fictional town of Darrowby.

James (Nicholas Ralph) and Helen (Rachel Shenton) share a smile as James's new girlfriend Connie (Charlie May-Clark) looks on frostily.

In one scene, James (Nicholas Ralph) is wrapped up against the cold in a sturdy navy overcoat and natty Fair Isle scarf as he makes his way through the fictional town square, surrounded by Christmas trees and mistletoe. Made by production company Playground Entertainment, the Darrowby scenes are actually filmed in Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. In another still taken in the square, Tristan (Callum Woodhouse) meets with elder brother Siegfried (Samuel West) and Mrs Hall (Anna Madeley) as they shop for groceries, while another photograph shows Maggie (Mollie Winnard), one of Tristan’s many love interests, with her younger brother David (Jake Hayes) leading a reluctant donkey.

And one intriguing image suggests a party scene, with James and Helen (Rachel Shenton) smiling at each other over a festive drink while James’s new girlfriend Connie (Charlie May-Clark) stands between them looking decidedly frosty.

Launched on our screens in September, this new series of All Creatures Great and Small has won huge popular and critical acclaim, giving Channel 5 its biggest audience in almost five years as 3.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the debut episode. In all, series one consolidated at 4.7 million viewers representing an 18.65 per cent share, plus an additional one million tuning in for the Sunday repeat, making it the top rated Channel 5 show since 2016. There were six episodes, ending on a cliffhanger with James heartbroken and downcast as Helen agrees to marry local wealthy landowner Hugh Hulton, played by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis.

This 2020 version of All Creatures comes after the continuing success of The Yorkshire Vet Channel 5 documentary series based in Alf Wight’s former surgery in Thirsk.

James (Nicholas Ralph) srrorunded by Christmas trees in Darrowby, portrayed in the C5 series by Grassington.

Channel 5 says that the new adaptation from BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning production company Playground (Howards End, Wolf Hall) will return for a further six episodes, plus a Christmas special for 2021. The production will receive funding and support from Screen Yorkshire. MASTERPIECE on PBS in the US will co-produce and all3Media International is the global partner.

James Alfred Wight OBE FRCVS was a veterinary surgeon who graduated from Glasgow Veterinary College at the age of 23. He headed to a veterinary practice in Thirsk, Yorkshire, in 1940 where he fell in love with the Dales and the woman he would marry, Joan Danbury. Wight later wrote stories based on his own adventures as a young country vet, under the pen name James Herriot. Herriot quickly became one of Britain’s best-loved authors.

Jim Wight and Rosie Page, Wight’s children said: “We thought Series 1 of the new All Creatures Great and Small was excellent. It was an immensely enjoyable adaptation of Dad’s books, very professionally acted and produced, and absolutely true to the ‘Herriot ethos. We have had wonderful feedback from many and various people, from all walks of life, telling us how they had derived great comfort from watching the new series in these stressful Covid times. We are very hopeful that Series 2 will be equally uplifting and entertaining, and we are greatly looking forward to seeing it.”

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Tristan (Callum Woodhouse) meets with Mrs Hall (Anna Madeley) and Siegfried (Samuel West).
Maggie (Mollie Winnard) and David (Jake Hayes) in Darrowby square with the donkey.