But it is the end of an era for Mr Norton, who has called time on his spell at Wight’s original practice, Skeldale Veterinary Centre in Thirsk, after 21 years.
Both his working life at Skeldale and that of fellow vet and former Wight apprentice Peter Wright have been documented by Daisybeck Studios for Channel 5’s popular television show for five series, and fans of the The Yorkshire Vet will be relieved to know that his exit from the practice has no bearing on the programme.
Mr Norton, who writes for The Yorkshire Post’s Country Week every Saturday, intends to resume his own veterinary career in Yorkshire in the near future. He said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working at Skeldale and will always treasure my memories of working at James Herriot’s original practice, which, as someone who was inspired into a veterinary career by Alf Wight in the first place, has in itself been a real honour.
“However, I do intend to continue my passion for independent mixed practice in the future, and I am looking forward to continuing the Herriot tradition in the next chapter of my career.”
His departure follows an announcement by Skeldale of a merger with Medivet, a veterinary group of more than 200 practices across England and Wales.
Wight’s former practice has been re-cast into the public spotlight by The Yorkshire Vet TV series, and it will continue to document real veterinary life at Skeldale in the future.
The hugely popular show’s fifth series drew to a close in the autumn but Skeldale, and both Peter and Julian, will be back on the screen over the festive period.
The Yorkshire Vet at Christmas airs on Sunday, December 24 at 8pm on Channel 5.
Paul Stead, managing director of Leeds-based Daisybeck Studios and the programme’s executive producer, reassured fans of the show that Mr Norton’s exit will not affect the forthcoming series and that both Julian and Peter will continue as its main protagonists.
Some scenes for series six, which will be broadcast in the spring, have already been filmed.
“The Yorkshire Vet has been tremendously well received since the first series of the show aired in 2015, with our most recent series attracting around 1.5 million viewers each week,” Mr Stead said. “We are so happy by the impact that the programme has had on viewers across the country. To see the legions of fans who came to meet Peter and Julian at The Yorkshire Vet at Countryside Live in Harrogate in October was truly humbling and we can assure them that there is much more to come.”
In a statement announcing the merger with Medivet, Skeldale Veterinary Centre explained: “Julian will be leaving in order to pursue other interests, both in veterinary medicine and media, and he wishes Skeldale the best of success for the future.”