All Creatures Great and Small concluded this week on Channel 5 with James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) discovering the love of his life, Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton), had become engaged to the wealthy Hugh Hulton (Matthew Lewis) just as he was on the verge of asking her out.
He was distraught and disconsolate and not even the free pints and slaps on his back for saving Dick Rudd’s bull could raise his spirits.
He had lost her to Hugh and it felt like forever.
But wait. Perhaps there is something stirring in the All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special that will transform his mood and put the bounce back in his step.
Anna Madeley, who plays housekeeper Mrs Hall, has hinted good things await.
She told RadioTimes.com: “I don’t know how much we’re allowed to say, but I think there’s going to be quite an exciting storyline on the broken hearts front.”
Read that however you wish, but we are definitely on the side of James turning things around with Helen and relaxing Hulton’s anxious, controlling hold on the beautiful farmer’s daughter.
Samuel West, who plays the irascible Siegfried Farnon in the new version, explained that viewers shouldn’t expect too much too soon.
He said recently: “…I mean, it’s got to have some structure, so even if you’re hoping for a happy ending you can’t get there too quickly.”
*The following contains spoilers from the original series*
In the original All Creatures Great & Small, which ran on BBC One from 1978 to 1990, the romance ran much smoother. James did not have a Hugh Hulton to contend with, just his nerves. After a series of false starts, mostly caused by his callowness and lack of confidence, the couple got together and were married by the end of the first series.
Channel 5’s reboot of All Creatures Great and Small is a different beast, however, and the will they/won’t they? narrative may not be resolved this Christmas.
Still, wouldn’t it provide an upbeat ending to a dismal year in which the Yorkshire period drama has been one of TV’s highlights?
In real life, Alf Wright – the vet who wrote the books that are the basis of All Creatures Great and Small – married his “Helen”, real name Joan Danbury, in 1941.