A new adaptation of “All Creatures Great and Small” is in the works for Viacom’s Channel 5 in the U.K. and Masterpiece on PBS in the U.S. The source books by James Herriot, about country veterinarians in 1930s rural England, were made into a much-loved 1978-90 British series that ran to 90 episodes, which also aired on public TV in the U.S. There was also a 1975 film starring Anthony Hopkins.
The new show will be made by “Wolf Hall” producer Playground. It will shoot in Yorkshire, northern England, in 2020, and consist of six episodes and a Christmas special. For Channel 5, the commission comes as it pushes deeper into original drama, with this being its biggest scripted project to date. Masterpiece in the U.S. has traditionally fared well with British dramas, including “Downton Abbey.”
Since their publication in 1970, the books by James Alfred Wight, under the Herriot pseudonym, have never been out of print. They have sold 60 million copies internationally.
“At a time when the country feels more divided than ever, Herriot’s glorious books remind us how to connect and belong again,” said Colin Callender, exec producer and CEO of Playground. “The series will embrace the fun and the nostalgia of revisiting the England of the past, while celebrating Herriot’s values that, despite all our current upheaval, still underpin British life today.”
“When it originally aired on public broadcasting, ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ captured the hearts of millions of television viewers,” added Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of Masterpiece. “We promise that the new series will have all the wit, warmth, and quirky charm of the original – and of course, lots of irresistible animals.”
All3Media will distribute the series internationally.