Channel 5 announced the commission of All Creatures Great and Small, for a second series. Based on best-selling author James Herriot’s cherished and iconic collection of stories, the critically-acclaimed brand 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. MASTERPIECE on PBS in the US will co-produce and all3Media International is the global partner. The production will also receive funding and support from Screen Yorkshire.
The series will return to shoot on location in the Yorkshire Dales next year. Herriot’s iconic characters and life-affirming stories led to a critically acclaimed debut on Channel 5, with the series consolidating at 4.7M viewers with an 18.65% share, with an additional 1M tuning in for the Sunday repeat, making it the channel’s highest rating launch for a drama commission ever.
The first series launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing viewers with “irresistible” escapism (The Daily Mail). Critics hailed the series as “perfect… heartwarming… a much-needed balm” (The Daily Telegraph) and noted that it “reminds us of the basic values of human decency in the most pleasant way possible” (The Times). Viewers can expect more heartwarming and humourous adventures of young country vet James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) as he joins his unconventional mentor, Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West), the matriarch of Skeldale House Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley), Siegfried’s errant brother Tristan (Callum Woodhouse), and independent local farmer’s daughter Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton), alongside a characterful ensemble of farmers, animals, and townsfolk living in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s.
The series was again commissioned by Deputy Director of Programmes, ViacomCBS Networks UK, Seb Cardwell; returning Executive Producers are Colin Callender and Melissa Gallant for Playground, Louise Pedersen for all3Media International, Caroline Cooper Charles for Screen Yorkshire, and Rebecca Eaton and Susanne Simpson for MASTERPIECE. MASTERPIECE on PBS is presented by WGBH Boston. Ben Vanstone (The Last Kingdom) remains lead writer and Executive Producer, Brian Percival will return as lead director and Executive Producer, and James Dean joins the production team as Producer.
Sebastian Cardwell, Channel 5 commented: “In challenging times, this new adaptation gained a special place in the heart of the British public. With values of community spirit, solidarity and heart-felt compassion, these stories are important ones for us to tell, now more than ever. I’m delighted that we will be seeing more of James and his Darrowby family when they return to our screens soon.”
“Working with Channel 5, all3Media International, Masterpiece and Screen Yorkshire on the first series has been an absolute joy,” says Colin Callender, Executive Producer and CEO of Playground. “All Creatures Great and Small have struck such a chord with audiences worldwide who were hungry for an entertaining, family-friendly show that provided some respite from the complicated and messy times we live in. We’re very excited to return home to our family at Skeldale House and to transport viewers back to Darrowby for more veterinary antics in the Yorkshire Dales!”
“We can’t wait to premiere the first season of All Creatures Great and Small in January – the perfect time for our audience to enjoy the humor and warmth of the series,” says MASTERPIECE Executive Producer Susanne Simpson. “Knowing there’s a second season will make watching and engaging with these characters even better.”
Executive Producer Caroline Cooper Charles, Head of Creative at Screen Yorkshire, says, “In an uncertain world, the warmth and charm of All Creatures Great and Small and its delicious cast of characters is comfort food for the soul. Screen Yorkshire is delighted to have invested in both series and can’t wait to welcome the production team back to Yorkshire for more fantastic and uplifting stories from Darrowby.”
Executive Producer Louise Pedersen, CEO of all3Media International, says: “The international reception to this series has been tremendously positive – and we are very proud that so many territories in Asia, Europe, and the Americas have fallen for the charms of this wonderful drama.”
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.
“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’”. Jim Wight and Rosie Page, Wight’s children say. “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”
In other news, all3media International has signed a brand-new acquisition for All Creatures Great and Small with Chinese streaming platform Huanxi Media. The Chinese streaming platform has acquired SVOD rights for both seasons, resulting in the first pre-sale of the new upcoming second season. Huanxi Media is based in Beijing and Hong Kong, focusing on investment and production of films, drama series, and operation of a subscription-based streaming platform focusing on prestige film and TV content from at home and abroad.
Honglin Jia, Head of International Acquisitions at Huanxi Media said, “We’re looking forward to showcasing this quintessentially British drama to our subscribers in China. With its glorious landscapes and acclaimed cast and crew, All Creatures Great and Small brings James Herriot’s classic stories vividly to life for a brand-new generation – offering premium drama infused with family values, warmth, and humour.”
Further new deals announced by all3media International include BritBox, for its new SVOD service in Australia and Polyband Medien has signed a Home Entertainment deal covering Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, and German-speaking Luxembourg and Switzerland.
All Creatures Great and Small is a timeless classic that continues to be much loved by generations. Never out of print, the books have sold 60 million copies internationally becoming a global cultural phenomenon with devoted fans around the world. With a sharp focus on community and its importance in our lives, Herriot’s world and spirit is a very much needed antidote to the challenges of modernity and reminds us all that belonging to a community makes us part of something greater than ourselves.