Review: Channel 5's revamp of All Creatures Great and Small is an absolute blast from the past

Some things you see or hear on TV just stick in your head and never leave, like the opening monologue to The A Team, or your first Doctor Who regeneration (Tom Baker falling off a radio telescope).

Friday, 4th September 2020, 5:00 pm

And then there’s the theme tune to All Creatures Great and Small, that tinkling piano score soundtracking veterinary hi-jinks in the Yorkshire Dales.

And now back, back, back 30 years later is an all-new All Creatures (Channel 5, Tues, 9pm). Everything you might expect is there – rolling Dales, picturesque locals, mud – as the novice vet James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) finds his feet after moving from Glasgow.

There are lovely old cars, and lovely old buildings and lovely old character actors and it’s like climbing into a newly-made bed with a cup of tea and a custard cream – warm and comforting.

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The stars of Channel 5's new version of All Creatures Great and Small. Clockwise from top left: Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West); Tristan Farnon (Callum Woodhouse); Mrs Hall (Anna Madeley) James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph)

There are a few concessions to our more modern times. James’ parents tell him – several times – to follow his dream, and come across as more self-help motivational gurus than 1930s Weegees. And irascible vet Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West) tells James that modern agricultural methods are ruining the Dales – which has echoes in the ongoing debate about where our food comes from.

West, in particular, is great. Not as pompous as Robert Hardy in the ’70s BBC version, but more human, and just as eccentric.

But this is a show that makes me nostalgic. Not for the Dales of the ’30s, but for my youth, when All Creatures was as much a fixture of the weekend as Grandstand, Songs of Praise and the nagging feeling that you’d forgotten to do your French homework.

The only thing missing is that theme tune – but I have a feeling this All Creatures will join The A Team in my head.