Broadcasters have chosen their programs with care in recent days. But Channel 5 knows it has a program that brings solace to the nation: All beings, great and smallback for a third series.
The focus of this episode was Helen and James’ wedding. Now Helen is in shape in this area, having dumped her last fiancé. And if this show was EastEnders or Coronation Street, the following exchanges would be alarming. Helen, the day before the wedding: “See you tomorrow.” James: “You can count on it.” And Helen to her father, as the hour of the ceremony approached, “I’m marrying James this afternoon. Nothing will stand in the way of that.”
In soapland, these rules can only be omens of doom. Not in this show, where the writers know their audience. What we wanted was a happy, heartwarming wedding, set against the backdrop of the glorious Yorkshire Dales, and that’s what we got.
Not that everything went quite according to plan. This is television after all. So we had the worn-out appliances of a dog eating the wedding rings, and the groom waking up in an unfamiliar environment after a well-oiled bachelorette party, then sprinting to the church. And a plot that could only appear in this particular show: The groom and his best man spend the morning of the wedding testing a herd of cattle for TB.
This time it was James (Nicholas Ralph) who appeared to have cold feet, but he turned out to be preoccupied with the war – it’s spring 1939 – and a nagging feeling that he should sign up, despite being a member of a reserved profession. after seeing farmer’s son Wilfred do just that. “His sense of duty will be the death of him one of these days,” Tristan said of James, and one might wonder if the writers plan to send James to war at some point (Alf Wight, aka Herriot, joined the RAF in 1942 but returned safely).
However, the emphasis in the episode was on happier things. James and Helen (Rachel Shenton) are a lovely couple. But what All Creatures Great and Small really excels at is mixing the heartfelt stuff with laughter. Callum Woodhouse as well as Tristan and Samuel West as Siegfried are nimble comedic actors, and it was a joy to enjoy watching the pair evade responsibility for losing the rings. Just like Tricki Woo who made a cameo on his velvet pillow.