Channel 5’s adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small, based on rural vet James Herriot’s real-life memoirs, is nothing without its setting in the Yorkshire Dales. And it couldn’t have been filmed anywhere else.
Director Brian Percival told journalists during a virtual Q&A: “It is completely integral. As this is a drama, with some funny bits in it, one of the most peculiar things only to Yorkshire, apart from the beautiful landscapes, is that rather cynical sense of humour. I just loved that right from the off.”
Here’s what you need to know about the locations you’ll see on screen, including in the 2020 Christmas special.
Where is fictional village Darrowby filmed?
While the original 1970s series used Askrigg as its stand-in for fictional village Darrowby, Channel 5 set their sights on Grassington, in the southern Dales.
Various period buildings at Grassington were perfect for the show’s 1930s setting, including local pub The Devonshire, which stood in for the exterior of the fictional The Drovers Arms.
Local bookshop The Stripey Badger was also utilised in the show for scenes featuring greengrocer’s G F Endleby.
Rachel Shenton, who plays Helen Alderson, said: “It was the willingness of the people and enthusiasm of the people which helped so much. We couldn’t have wished for more.”
And Siegfried Farnon actor Samuel West told journalists that he hoped that “if this [the show] is a success it can bring some tourism their way” at filming locations like Grassington.
“I hope you can tell what a happy time we all had and that wouldn’t have been nearly as true if we hadn’t been living in the heart of the place,” he continued.
West later added: “Grassington is the most delightful place, and for the first couple of weeks I made sure I bought plenty of wine from the wine shop and books from the bookshop. But actually going back in February this year, just after we’d wrapped and just before lockdown, it was like returning to – being a prodigal son. They threw open the doors and said, ‘How are you – and when are you coming back?'”
(Thankfully, All Creatures has now been renewed for a second season.)
Is Skeldale House a real place?
In real life, Alf Wight (who went by the pen name James Herriot) ran his veterinary practice from 23 Kirkgate in the village of Thirsk – and in his books he reimagined it as “Skeldale House” in the the village of “Darrowby”. That original building is now home to a museum, The World of James Herriot.
So to film the Channel 5 series, producers used the exterior of a private house in Grassington. Meanwhile, the interiors were created inside a studio.
Ahead of the Christmas special, Nicholas Ralph told journalists at a Q&A: “When we walked onto the set for Skeldale House and it was all decked out for Christmas – the Christmas tree was up, the decorations were everywhere, Tristan was hanging up about 50 bits of mistletoe. So yes, the Christmas feel was all around us.”
Where was the cottage in the Christmas special filmed?
In the Christmas special, James and Helen pay a visit to Bert and Anne Chapman (played by Dave Hill and Cleo Sylvestre) after their dog Suzy gets intro trouble during labour. The elderly couple live in a tiny, cosy cottage – and surprisingly, this was all shot on location rather than in a studio.
“We were based in Skipton, but we drove miles and miles – I mean it was really well up in the Dales,” Sylvestre told RadioTimes.com. “It was so remote, this farmhouse, I didn’t really catch where it was! But it was absolutely beautiful… it was brilliant and quite muddy!”
Where was Mrs Pumphrey’s house filmed?
Broughton Hall, a Grade I listed Georgian property located near Skipton, has often been used in the past as a filming location for projects like Netflix’s The English Game.
Channel 5 utilised the property for the home of wealthy local resident Mrs Pumphrey (played by Dame Diana Rigg), whose spoilt dog Tricki-Woo demands only the utmost attention from James Herriot.
Some scenes were also shot on the estate – Broughton Hall’s park dates back to the 18th and 19th century, and was no doubt perfect for period shots.
Where was the bus stop scene filmed?
When James Herriot first makes the perilous journey from Glasgow, Scotland, to the deepest depths of the Yorkshire Dales in episode one, he accidentally jumps off the bus to Darrowby at the wrong point – and is forced to walk the remainder of the way on foot.
The scene, while showcasing just how much Herriot has to learn, also highlights the vast expanse of the countryside – with not a soul or dwelling to be seen.
The picturesque shot of endless fields was filmed on location at beauty spot Malham Lings in North Yorkshire.
Nearby Malham is also used later in the series for the scene where Herriot swims in the waterfall pool, Janet’s Foss, at Malham.