Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Whatever Happened to the "All Creatures Great and Small" Cast?

A while ago, I wrote an article outlining the later careers and present day whereabouts of the TV favourite "On The Buses" cast. Due to its popularity, it made me think of other series we have loved over the years and whatever happened to the actors that graced our screens. 

The first of which that came to mind was "All Creatures Great and Small".

"All Creatures Great and Small"" was a BBC TV drama series that ran for 90 episodes between January 1978 and December 1990. Based on the semi-autographical works of Yorkshire veterinary surgeon James Herriot (real name Alf Wight), the series brought many of his best-selling animal stories to the small screen.

The main character was James Herriot himself - initially a newly qualified veterinarian leaving college in Glasgow, to work in the North Yorkshire fictional town of Darrowby. His employer in Yorkshire was the maverick Siegfried Farnon, an established animal doctor of many years standing.

Christopher Timothy (James Herriot)

Christopher Timothy was not the first choice to play the lead role. Indeed after auditioning, he was offered the support role of Tristan Farnon, but successfully held out for the main Herriot part. 

Simon Ward and John Alderton (who both played Herriot in movie adaptations) and the late Richard Beckinsale all turned down the part prior to Timothy's success in securing the role as his own.

In 2000, Timothy took on the role of Dr Brendan McGuire in the BBC daytime soap "Doctors", staying in the role for 6 years. He has also more recently played parts in "Casualty", "Lewis" and "The Bill", in a distinguished 40+ year acting career. 

Now aged 71, he is 2nd time married, has 7 children, 3 grandchildren and a passion for Hartlepool United FC.

Robert Hardy (Siegfried Farnon)

A graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford, Hardy, when as the subject of BBC Radio 4's "Desert Island Discs", described his BA (Hons) in English as "shabby", but he admitted to treasuring the time studying the classics.

Very much thought of as a classical actor over the years, his first continuing role on TV was back in the 1960's playing businessman Alec Stewart in the BBC's oil industry based drama "The Troubleshooters".

A distinguished career followed with roles in "Hot Metal" and "Upstairs Downstairs", not to mention many others. He has also played the parts of Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt on more than one occasion, to great acclaim.

Now 86, he was a close friend of legendary Hollywood actor Richard Burton and is an acknowledged expert on the longbow.

Peter Davison (Tristan Farnon) 

Davison, (real name Peter Moffett), was born in Streatham, London and grew up in Knaphill, Surrey. He uses the stage name Davison to avoid confusion with another actor with the similar surname Moffatt.

His part of Tristan Farnon very much came to the fore in the 2nd series, after Christopher Timothy suffered a serious car accident and was forced to spend the majority of the time studio bound. 

The character of Tristan took on much of the outside location work instead of Herriot (it can be seen on certain episodes that Timothy had major difficulty even walking at that time).

Davison has gone on to star in many TV series such as "Campion" and "The Last Detective", and was the 5th incarnation of Doctor Who. 

Most recently he has successfully taken the role of Henry Sharpe, the director of the London CPS in the UK franchise of "Law and Order". He also found success on the London West-End stage playing Professor Callahan in the Savoy Theatre's adaptation of "Legally Blonde".

Now aged 60, he has been married 3 times and has a actress daughter Georgia Moffett, by 2nd wife Sandra Dickinson. Georgia is married to David Tennant, who found fame as the 8th "Doctor Who", giving rise to the statement that "Doctor Who is in fact, his own father-in-law!"

Carol Drinkwater (Helen Herriot 1)

Carol was best known for her portrayal of James' wife Helen in the 1st three series of the drama, but also appeared in Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" and the original TV adaption of "Bouquet of Barbed Wire". She was also shortlisted for the long-running part of Leela in "Doctor Who", which was eventually taken up by Louise Jameson.
Carol Drinkwater
After a high profile relationship with screen husband Christopher Timothy broke up in real life, she decided not to continue in the role and was replaced by Lynda Bellingham.

More recently, Carol 63, has become a best-selling children's author with such titles as "The Haunted School". She has also written a series of memoirs about her olive farm in Provence.

Click HERE for a link to her website.

Lynda Bellingham (Helen Herriot 2)


Born Meredith Lee Hughes in Montreal, Canada, Lynda was adopted by an English couple at the age of 4 months and was brought up in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

She received her big break playing the part of a nurse in the 1970's ITV soap opera "General Hospital". and is well remembered for being the Mum in the Oxo gravy adverts. She has played many roles in a TV and stage career spanning a period of over 40 years.

To keep up the "Doctor Who" connection, she played the role of the Inquisitor in the 1986 "Trial of a Time Lord" series and has had parts in "Second Thoughts", "Faith in the Future", "The Bill" and "New Tricks". 

During 2008-09, she played the part of Chris Harper in the stage version of "Calendar Girls" in both the West-End and on tour.

Often she can seen as a panelist in the ITV lunchtime magazine show "Loose Women" and in 2009 was a contestant on the BBC's "Strictly Come Dancing", being voted off in the 4th week.

Lynda, now 63 is known for her deep, husky voice. She has been married 3 times and has 2 sons. Her passions are reading and horses.


The news broke in September 2014 that Lynda, who has been battling colon cancer since July 2013, has decided to cease chemotherapy treatment as the cancer has apparently spread to her lungs and liver. 


Sadly Lynda passed away on Sunday 19th October 2014. Our deepest sympathy goes out to her family and friends. RIP.

Below, in 3 separate parts, is the story of "All Creatures Great and Small". Initially broadcast on the UK's BBC4 TV channel, it outlines, amongst other aspects, how the series came into being, the casting and the problems faced when they had run out of James Herriot's written material.

Part One

Part two

Part three 
(I apologise for the break midway through part three - I hope it doesn't spoil your enjoyment too much)



  1. David Tennant plays the 10th incarnation of the Doctor.

    Still, thank you for the brilliant rundown on where everyone is now.

    1. Thanks for that - I was never very good at Maths :-) Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Thanks for posting this update as well as the wonderful videos. I grew up on an American farm raising hundred of livestock, and so I spent many an hour reading the books, of course. Twenty-five years ago, my husband and I watched the whole TV series on VHS. Now we're glorying in it again via streaming Netflix. It's just magical and so real to what I knew as a farm girl. Thanks again for making this post. AJ

    1. Thanks for your comments.
      In 2011, the BBC made a 3 part series based on the early life of Herriott entitled "Young James Herriott" with Iain de Caestecker in the title role. Not sure if it is available via Netflix but well worth looking out for.

  3. It would be wonderful if the cast of "All Creatures Great and Small" could come together on the American NBC "Today" show for a time of Q&A. It appears that millions of fans are interested in the lives of these great actors. I have watched each episode many times over and enjoy the acting, the most beautiful "Dales",and the way people lived during that era. The cast should be recognized for their great acting and for bringing so much pleasure to so many people.

  4. Great story of where everyone is from a great TV series...

  5. great to finally know why helen #1left the show...i mourned her departure like the loss of a dear friend. it took many episodes for me to adjust; it really never was quite the same.

  6. Why are there no credits for Derek Nimmo who played James Herriot in the 1979 (not 1977) of the film It shouldn't happen to a vet?

  7. Hi Michael, many thanks for your comment.

    I am aware of the 1977 movie version of "It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet" starring John Alderton, but didn't know that Derek Nimmo featured in another 2 years later.

    This post really concentrates on the TV series as opposed to the film versions.