The Beeb is doing an All Creatures Great and Small prequel:

Classic rural drama All Creatures Great and Small is set for a TV comeback.

The adventures of Yorkshire vet James Herriot, which originally ran on BBC1 from 1978 to 1990, are being given a new lease of life, possibly in a bid to attract the former audience of ITV’s discontinued Sunday night drama Heartbeat.

The new three-part series, Young James, is due to be filmed and set in Glasgow, the city where veterinary surgeon Alf Wight – author of the original diaries, which were witten under the pseudonym James Herriot – learned his trade. The new show will feature the earlier years of Herriot’s career.

Casting for the lead role has not yet begun. Christopher Timothy played Herriot in the orginal series, which also starred Robert Hardy, Peter Davison, Lynda Bellingham and Carol Drinkwater.

At its peak, All Creatures Great and Small pulled in audiences of more than 13 million.

BBC1 controller Jay Hunt said: “The chance to bring the story of the real James Herriot alive for a BBC1 audience that grew up with All Creatures Great and Small was irresistible.”

The 60-minute programme will be made by Koco Drama, Shed Media’s new drama company. It was co-created by Kate Croft and the now-deceased Johnny Byrne.

ACGAS was a staple of Robbo’s misspent teenaged years so perhaps I am unduly biased, but it seems to me that we live in a day and age in which it is simply impossible to capture on screen the spirit of either the original series or of the books themselves.  Will the writers recast the thing in the current air of narcissistic, ironic nihilism?  Or will they seek to recreate the innocent wholesomeness of the original that is so alien to many of today’s audience, particularly the young?

Plus, Harriot himself was largely the straight man of the stories, the meat of the thing being provided by Sigfried, Tris and Mrs. Hall, to say nothing of Tricky-Woo.  And without the likes of Robert Hardy and Peter Davidson, where are you, really?

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