‘A Friend For Life’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

I believe this episode was meant to be the fifth one, not the fourth one. I say that because the title sequences at the beginning and at the end have changed once again for the fourth Series 7 TV episode.

That’s because a new director has been attached to this fourth episode. But by the time we come to the fifth episode of Series 7, it’s back again with the old title sequences, directed by Michael Brayshaw.

Looking ahead, it goes back to the new title sequences for the fourth episode in the sixth episode. I don’t know why the fifth episode wasn’t the fourth episode as I do not have that information on hand.

‘A Friend For Life’ is by Michael Russell, based on the ‘James Herriot’ books. He previously penned ‘If Music Be The Food of Love’. I find Michael Russell’s episodes very enjoyable to watch in ‘All Creatures’.

The fourth episode is directed by Steve Goldie, a newcomer to the series. I like Steve Goldie’s title sequences and his direction so far. He would direct three more episodes after this one. Good to know!

With a new title sequence, there are new title cards for Robert Hardy, Christopher Timothy, Peter Davison and Lynda Bellingham. There’s also one for Jean Heywood as Mrs. Alton, which is pretty good.

I wish though that they kept to having just one title sequence for each season rather than mix-and-match with different directors attached to them. It makes things pretty inconsistent in Series 6 and 7.

Anyway, the episode has James and Siegfried having to deal with the Shadwell family who have a problem with their cattle. It seems their cattle are seriously ill, connected with some disease in ‘dung’.

Avril Angers guest stars as Molly Shadwell in the episode. I didn’t realise it until the end that Avril Angers had been in ‘Dad’s Army’ both on TV and radio. I’m very happy to have seen her in this episode.

She’s also been in the Series 2 episode ‘Pups, Pigs and Pickle’, playing different character Miss Dooley. Molly Shadwell is a devoted housewife and mother at her husband’s farm when seeing her in the tale.

There’s also Howard Goorney as Bill Shadwell, who has been running his farm for many years. Bill Shadwell is due for retirement and he’s struggling to face facts regarding the diseased cows on his farm.

There’s Dominic Guard as Peter Shadwell, Bill and Molly’s son in the episode. I also didn’t realise until the end that Dominic Guard has been in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘Terminus’, playing Olvir. How amazing! 🙂

Peter Shadwell is hoping to move onto pastures news and now run the farm as his father wants him to. The situation with the diseased cows combined with Peter’s departure causes friction in the family.

James finds himself in the middle of a family row between Bill and his son Peter. Bill is pretty bad-tempered whilst Peter’s trying to be reasonable. Bill is angry Molly phoned for the vets behind his back.

Siegfried also has the hard duty of sharing the news about the diseased cows on the farm to the Shadwells. Bill is clearly unhappy about this and it does not make the tension among the family easier.

The episode also features Rachel James as Louise, Peter’s wife and Marian Hutton as Joanna, Peter’s daughter. Both have very few lines in this episode as well as screen-time which is quite a shame really.

I did like that scene between Bill and Molly where they discuss their future together. The way it’s performed between Howard Goorney and Avril Angers is interesting, as it could’ve been quite hostile.

I say that since Howard Goorney’s delivery often at times feels hostile. But he says his words with such passion. Avril Angers is able to take it as Molly’s character who must be used to her husband’s manner.

The episode also features a retirement party taking place for Bill Shadwell. James, Helen and Tristan have received their invitations for the party, but Siegfried hasn’t. He becomes very worried about this.

It is funny when Siegfried is clueless as to why he hasn’t received the invitation as it gets confirmed it was sent. But it turns out it was in the box where Tristan kept his metal detector. More on that in a bit.

At the retirement party, speeches are given by Peter Shadwell as well as a toast by James. Thankfully Bill doesn’t get into an anger fit as he promised he wouldn’t to Molly. Thankfully the speeches were nice.

Both Peter and James were respectful in their speeches. Peter admits that he and his father haven’t seen eye-to-eye lately and James gives a toast to Bill and Molly before the dancing occurs at the party.

There are new cows brought into the farm by Peter Shadwell with new farmland to replace the diseased one. I like it ending on a happy note, despite Bill retiring and Peter and his family moving on.

In another subplot, Bryan Pringle returns as Mr. Grimsdale. Yeah, Grimsdale’s back after appearing in ‘Cheques and Balances’ in Series 5 and ‘Blood and Water’ in Series 6. He’s another grumpy farmer! 😀

Like Biggins of course, who doesn’t want to pay huge bills for the vets! As I’m sure I mentioned before in other reviews, I’ve seen Bryan Pringle in the ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’ 1974 Christmas Special.

In this episode, Siegfried sees one of Grimsdale’s bulls. Grimsdale tries to convince Siegfried that his bull is alright. But Siegfried has to convince Grimsdale that the bull requires a special kind of operation.

Apparently there’s some wire stuck inside the bull which Siegfried can detect with his hands. The bull must’ve eaten the wire somehow. Anyway it has to come out, yet Grimsdale doesn’t think it’s that so bad.

He’s trying to wiggle his way out of paying a huge bill of course. Siegfried doesn’t push the issue too far as he’ll let Grimsdale decide about his bull. Apparently, the bull happens to ‘like’ Siegfried in this. 🙂

It was funny when Siegfried had problems starting his car and Grimsdale mocks him. Siegfried has to keep starting the car with a car-wrench in order to get it going. I think Siegfried is proving a point here.

Siegfried tries to stress how important it is to get his bull fixed when he’s getting his car to go with the wrench. Grimsdale doesn’t take the point of course, but thankfully Siegfried’s brother might help here.

Apparently, Tristan has brought himself a new toy. It happens to be a cumbersome army surplus metal detector. Siegfried isn’t so happy with how pricey it is and Mrs. Alton wants to use the vacuum cleaner.

Tristan tries to get across to Siegfried how useful the metal detector will be. Siegfried’s unconvinced as he reiterates how he managed to detect the metal wire in Mr. Grimsdale’s cow earlier in the episode.

But Tristan gets to prove his point when he demonstrates to Grimsdale how the metal detector works. This is at the Shadwells’ party. Clearly the chaps including Tristan and Grimsdale have had a few drinks.

Thankfully Tristan proves his point when using the metal detector on Grimsdale’s bull and finding the metal wire inside. Grimsdale becomes convinced the bull needs an operation whereas before he wasn’t.

I like that Siegfried is considering keeping the metal detector on in the vets’ itinerary. Whether we’ll see the metal detector again is another matter. We probably won’t as we’re coming to the series’ end.

There’s a little subplot where Mrs. Alton complains about the vacuum cleaner not working properly when she uses it. She asks Siegfried to help out and get a new one, but he’s quite distracted elsewhere.

Mrs. Alton lays her concerns to Helen who helps out to get Siegfried’s attention. Helen does something to the vacuum cleaner and when Siegfried tries to use it and get it to work, it makes a mess.

The vacuum cleaner breaks its mess onto the floor, ruining Siegfried’s shoes. 😀 I found it funny when that happened. Helen and Mrs. Alton are pleased, as it may prompt Siegfried to get a new vacuum cleaner.

The episode also features a subplot involving two brothers – one who’s a drunkard and one who’s sober. It begins once Siegfried and James meet up in a pub having a lunch and drink after doing a case each.

Siegfried attended to Grimsdale and James attended to the Shadwells. They meet Tim Wylton as Bob Stockdale, who enjoys his drink at the pub and has a dog with him. Bob’s quite a nice chap to be honest.

Bob’s brother Paul Grunert as Adam is equally friendly, but doesn’t approve of his brother’s visits to the pub. He prefers to get on with his work, whilst Bob’s rather laid back and prefers to chat to people.

I don’t think we’ve seen the Stockdale brothers before (or maybe we have, I’m not so sure). It was funny when Bob took James to see some animals – cows, I believe – and they rode on ponies here. 😀

James is not used to riding ponies and he has some back-trouble. Siegfried gently mocks James for not getting enough exercise. James has his shoulders massaged by Helen when he gets home later on. 😀

Siegfried also goes through a similar experience with seeing to some animals by Bob. This time however, they don’t go on ponies – but on bikes. Siegfried isn’t used to bikes either and has back-trouble too.

There is a serious story with Bob Stockdale when he struggles to have his dog seen to by the vets. James discovers this when he sees him at his pub. They both go back to Bob’s home to see to the dear animal.

It seems that Bob’s dog may have cancer as there’s a ‘ball’ in him. James hopes to save the dog, but Bob does not want to take him to Skeldale’s surgery, afraid of never seeing the dog again and losing him.

Eventually, James performs the operation on Bob’s dog at his home with Adam helping him to disinfects and clean a table. Thankfully, all is well, and Bob’s dog is recovered which is a huge relief indeed. 🙂

The episode ends with Grimsdale’s bull on the loose after having the operation performed on him. Siegfried and James are in their car when it won’t start. Siegfried has to start it up again with a wrench.

James warns Siegfried about the bull facing them when they try to start the car again. The bull advances on them and Siegfried and James get inside. The bull gets in on Siegfried, quite ‘lovingly’. 😀

It was so funny to see that in the episode and it’s easy to make jokes about. James remind Siegfried that Grimsdale said his bull ‘likes’ him. I hope James and Siegfried managed to get back home safely. 😀

‘A Friend For Life’ is a good episode in the ‘All Creatures’ series. I’m still getting a sense the series is starting wane and be on its way out, but I enjoy the comedy and drama featured throughout these episodes.

‘A Friend For Life’ rating – 8/10

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