The series was produced throughout its run by Bill Sellars. In early 1977, the BBC tasked him with the creation of a television series from Herriot's first two novels, If Only They Could Talk (1970) and It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet (1972), using the title of the 1975 film adaptation. It is part of a series of movies and television series based on Herriot's novels. The Herriot novels were written in an episodic style, with each chapter generally containing a short story within the ongoing narrative of Herriot's life. This format greatly facilitated their adaptation for a television series.
Fellow vet Granville Bennett (James Grout), a cat and dog specialist, is often on hand to help out with the more severe small animal cases. His enjoyment of alcohol is always of a concern for James, however, who regularly ends up inebriated and making a fool of himself in front of Bennett's wife, Zoe (Pamela Salem), whom he always thought considered him a dipsomaniac. "One of the guest characters we both adored was Granville Bennett, from whom James never escaped without being utterly plastered," recalled Sandy Byrne, the widow of writer Johnny Byrne. "He was played by James Grout, who was wonderful! He very much enjoyed writing for Mrs Pumphrey and Hodgekin too."
"Continuity pictures became so important," explained make-up artist Maggie Thomas. "For instance, we would always see the vets leaving and arriving at [Skeldale House], although we never ever went inside the real house on location and the costume and make-up had to match up exactly several weeks later when we saw them arrive back in the studio set of [Skeldale House] hall." "Continuity is one of the greatest challenges for a costume designer," added June Hudson. "It is one of the hardest things to get right. I would take Polaroids and stick them in my script, next to the scenes, so that when you came to do the studio, you just look at that photograph. It was the only way to do it, otherwise you were never, ever going to get it right. The smallest details, whether a top button was done up, if they wore rings on a different hand, if they had a watch on... the viewer notices, so it is a very tough job."
For the first three series, up until the two Christmas specials of 1983 and 1985, most interior scenes were recorded on video at Pebble Mill and edited together with exterior shots. This provided hardships in December 1977, when filming briefly returned to the Dales, after a block of studio recording, to capture the look of winter. The temperatures dropped well below freezing. "The snow was high and the ice was solid," explained Robert Hardy in 2003. "I remember two occasions when we were so cold, from the wind on the [moorland] tops, that we couldn't speak. We had to stop." Peter Davison recalled: "People would hand me a cup of tea and I would stick my hand in it, rather than drink it, because my fingers were so cold." For the final four series, much of the filming other than at Skeldale House was done wholly on location at the farms. "Studios aren't really like cow byres or horse stables or country farm houses," explained Hardy, "so one had to make believe a great deal in those early episodes. I mean, they made good sets, but it was better later when we stopped using the studio and did all the filming in real locations in Yorkshire. That was when it really started coming alive, because the cameras were in real situations."
"I used to love the old cars," explained Robert Hardy. "Except when they gave up. They were always giving up. We had a permanent mechanic up there and he was always deep inside the bonnet of this or that car. But I had some nice cars to drive, and when they worked they were great fun. And, of course, I was old enough to remember how to double declutch and all that sort of thing, so they weren't a shock to me."
"The staircase went nowhere," revealed Peter Davison. "If you had to run downstairs to answer the phone, it meant perching yourself on a small platform just out of shot and launching yourself into the scene."
The first floor contains the bedrooms, while the second floor contains a small suite which Siegfried offers to James and Helen in the first episode of series 2. When the couple move to Rowangarth, Calum takes over the suite.
As the 1983 Christmas Special had done, the interview included a tribute to Mary Hignett (Mrs Hall), who died shortly after the series' first run: "She was the warmest-hearted, most genial, most enchanting companion," said Hardy. "She was a total dear; I absolutely adored her, and it was tragic that she died far too soon and left us bereft." Timothy added: "A fabulous lady, and greatly, greatly missed."
Delve into the magical, unforgettable world of James Herriot, the world's most beloved veterinarian, and his menagerie of heartwarming, funny, and tragic animal patients. For 50 years, generations of readers have flocked to Herriot's marvelous tales, deep love of life, and extraordinary storytelling abilities. For decades, Herriot roamed the remote, beautiful Yorkshire Dales, treating every patient that came his way from smallest to largest, and observing animals and humans alike with his keen, loving eye. 781b155fdc