During 2020’s lockdown and Covid restrictions, the new Channel 5 remake of All Creatures Great and Small was one of the surprise hits with viewing figures way beyond those expected.
The genteel feel-good drama following the life of the Yorkshire vet and based on the popular books by James Herriot (a pseudonym for Thirsk based vet Alf Wight), not only harked back to simpler times but was also a showcase for the stunning landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales.
Bringing the Yorkshire Dales to life
As a Blue Badge Driver Guide, my original Herriot Tours were some of my most popular tours before the pandemic. Whether a one day tour or a 2-day tour, showing visitors sites from Alf Wight’s life, locations from the original BBC TV series All Creatures Great and Small with Christopher Timothy playing the Yorkshire vet or sites featured in the book, the tours were particularly popular with international visitors.
I had an 80-year-old Australian lady who burst into tears because with it being her first trip to England and being a huge Herriot fan said: “it’s even more beautiful than I ever imagined!”. I’ve also taken a number of retired vets who were inspired by Herriot to become vets in the first place around the Yorkshire Dales stopping at the wonderful World of James Herriot Museum based in the actual building in Thirsk where Alf Wight worked as a vet!
Going large Stateside
The revival of All Creatures Great and Small by Channel 5 has not just gone down well in the UK, but has started to air in the United States. Feedback so far has been positive with a great review in the New York Times and viewing figures for the first two episodes way exceeding expectations.
When social distancing restrictions are lifted, people are vaccinated and the world opens up to travel again, Visit Britain predict record numbers of Americans to visit England in 2022. With a new generation of Herriot fans inspired by the new TV series, this can only lead to more people making the pilgrimage to Yorkshire to see the stunning countryside showcased in the show.
Traditionally Herriot Country has been seen as the higher Yorkshire Dales of Wensleydale and Swaledale, but the new TV series was shot mainly in Wharfedale and Malhamdale. The Dales market town of Grassington doubles up as the fictional town of Darrowby in the new series and other scenic locations include Malham Lings, Janet’s Foss waterfall and Hardraw.
Adding to the Herriot Portfolio
I’ve decided to launch a new All Creatures Great and Small Tour which ties in with the new TV series. I’ve added this to my website but it is worth mentioning that with the TV series and books featuring visits to farms to treat farm animals, so I have added into the tour an “experiential “ hour at a local farm, where we can get to take a look around the farm, meet the animals and talk to a local farmer.
Everything points towards this new tour being a great success with domestic and overseas visitors to “God’s Own County” as we call Yorkshire up here. And with a second series having just been commissioned this could help as a massive kick start to a post-Covid tourism recovery in the Yorkshire Dales.
Some extra reading
For anyone interested in finding more about the new TV series – there is a link to my blog with quotes from Channel 5.
I have also blogged about Alf Wight – the real James Herriot, which gives insight into the man who wrote the books and who on which the TV series was based
About the Author:
Tim Barber is a Yorkshire Blue Badge Tourist Guide, living in Burley in Wharfedale on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. He runs Real Yorkshire Tours – a driver guided business offering a variety of tours throughout Yorkshire. With a Geography degree and a passion for history, Tim offers entertaining days out for visitors to “God’s own county” and prides himself on bringing Yorkshire’s heritage, culture and landscape to life. He also has his own blog – click here to see it!