‘Big Fish, Little Fish’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

It’s time for cricket again in the ‘All Creatures’ series. Yes! There’s a cricket match featured in this episode. A pity Peter Davison left when he did. He could have added his ‘Doctor Who’ cricketing skills! 😀

Speaking of which, I saw Series 2, Episode 3 of ‘Great British Car Journeys’ with Christopher Timothy and Peter Davison before I saw this episode. I wish Tristan’s return in Series 7 came sooner at this point.

Actually, it does seem unfair for James and Siegfried to just be the only two vets in Darrowby without a third to cover for them. With Tristan and Calum gone, they could’ve had a temp to fill in for them here.

‘Big Fish, Little Fish’, based on the ‘James Herriot’ books, is by Michael Russell. Michael previously wrote ‘Where Sheep May Safely Graze’ in Series 6. I enjoyed the writing for this episode very much. 🙂

‘Big Fish, Little Fish’ is also the first episode of the third production block of Series 6 to be directed by Tony Virgo. It’s nice to have Tony Virgo back since he directed four ‘All Creatures’ episodes before this.

Tony directed the episodes ‘Cheques and Balances’, ‘The Female of the Species’, ‘The Jackpot’ and ‘Two of a Kind’ for Series 5 of ‘All Creatures’. He has also directed ‘The King’s Demons’ in ‘Doctor Who’. 🙂

The first episode of Tony Virgo’s production block thankfully has a new title sequence of Robert Hardy and Christopher driving in a car before cutting to a title card of Lynda Bellingham. It’s an improvement.

I wasn’t so keen on the title sequence during the second production block of Series 6 by Michael Brayshaw. So seeing it changed again for the last time in this third block was a relief. It felt very suitable.

I’m still unsure as to why they changed the title sequence so much in the reboot era of ‘All Creatures’. They didn’t change it so much in the original run of the show and it did feel pretty consistent throughout.

Time to talk about the episode. It turns out that Siegfried has once again put James’ name down to play cricket in a local charity match for the Darrowby village against country team. James is not happy.

I’m surprised the vicar character Blenkinsopp from Series 2 didn’t return for this episode as he encouraged James to play cricket in ‘The Name of the Game’. Blenkinsopp doesn’t even get a mention.

It also felt strange watching this episode to think that it was all taking place on the same day. Siegfried is doing plenty of rounds about farms whilst James and Helen are at Skeldale in surgery and on phone.

This reinforces the issue I have regarding the Skeldale vets being short-staffed. Whilst Siegfried is attending to many rounds at farms, James and Helen seem to be stressed out attending to many calls.

And James has to do all this hard work before taking part in a cricket match in the afternoon. Yeah! I suppose it does get very stressful when you have to attend to so many things at once within a single day.

It’s meant to reflect real life, I guess. But James could’ve been given extra support by having a temporary vet filling in Calum and Tristan’s absence. Have Willy Bannister back again. It’d make sense.

I did enjoy the banter between James and Helen as a married couple when working at Skeldale though. Despite my issues with Lynda Bellingham’s casting, she and Chris Timothy do act like a married couple.

Which leads me to wonder, where are their children? They seem to have disappeared, haven’t they? My Dad noticed this as we were watching the episode. Have Jimmy and Rosie gone to boarding school?

I don’t think it’s established clearly. If they’re still around, why didn’t they go to see their dad playing cricket in the local match? They could’ve given him moral support as well as his wife Helen in the story.

It was funny when Helen was working with a typewriter and having to answer phone calls at the same time. She actually spills her tea on one of her papers when the phone rings. It must’ve been disastrous.

Back with Siegfried, he attends to a lame horse called Maggie, belonging to young married couple Bob and Rachel Taylor. Mark Botham guest stars as Bob Taylor and Tracy-Jane White guest stars as Rachel.

Rachel loves her horse Maggie as she knew her since being a teenager. Siegfried and Bob can see how much Rachel adores Maggie and they struggle to break the news that her horse will not get any better.

Siegfried has done his best to operate on the animal and Bob and Rachel are clearly worried about her. But Siegfried gets very anxious about the horse’s condition and sees that Maggie’s going downhill.

I liked that scene between Siegfried and Rachel where he tries to tell her the sad news about Maggie the horse. Whilst Siegfried recommends putting her down, Rachel is in denial and unwilling to give in.

It was interesting to see young Rachel’s self-denial about Maggie’s condition as she keeps at it with seeing to her horse to get better. Bob keeps trying to tell her the reality of it all, but Maggie ignores it.

Eventually, Siegfried gets told about how worse Maggie is and Rachel finally admits that she was in the wrong. She’s said her goodbyes to Maggie and tells Siegfried to put her to sleep. At this, Siegfried does.

It’s a sad story to feature in this episode, especially with an overall light-heart plot about a cricket match. Bob was even one of the players in the cricket match before Siegfried goes and attends Maggie.

This episode also features Siegfried having a young assistant helping him on his rounds. This is young boy James Mason as Colin Appleby. Colin happens to be this pretty willing helper on Siegfried’s rounds.

Colin followed Siegfried in his car away from home because he wanted him to help with his sick goldfish. Siegfried seems to be pretty good with Colin as a kid, as he takes him under his wing being his assistant.

They visit quite a number of farms on Siegfried’s rounds including meeting farmers like Peter Faulkner as Alec and Alan Helm as Albert Wiggs. These farmers eventually end up playing the cricket match too.

Colin is also good a relaying messages to Siegfried, including updating him on the situation regarding Bob and Rachel Taylor’s horse Maggie. Siegfried even gives Colin an ice cone as a reward at the match.

Thankfully, Siegfried attends to Colin’s sick goldfish, despite claiming earlier that he didn’t know much about goldfish. Colin’s glad about his goldfish getting better as well as his parents glad to see him back.

Colin’s parents are Duggie Brown as Brian Appleby and Dinah Handley as Alison Appleby. Colin’s dad seems okay with his son assisting Siegfried on his rounds, despite running from home in the first place.

It was funny as the episode ended that young Colin seemed keen about being a cricket player instead of being a vet as Siegfried after watching Freddie Trueman in action. Siegfried is a little put out by this.

Before I talk about Freddie Trueman, let’s talk about the people involved with organising the cricket match. There’s Bert Parnaby as Colonel Jenkins as well as John Gill as Arnie Braithwaite in the episode.

I did get a sense of friction between Colonel Jenkins and Arnie Braithwaite in the episode. Not sure what that friction was, but I gathered that one was running the village team and one the country team.

Arnie seems to be a light-hearted, jovial chap whilst Colonel Jenkins tended to be serious and pompous at times. The Colonel even walked out in a huff after having his conversation with James and Siegfried.

In the episode, Arnie has this Border Collie named Bouncer whom he brings to surgery to have his long nails cut by James. I’m not sure if Bouncer had a role in the cricket match proceedings for this episode.

It was amusing with James hearing from Arnie who boasts about Siegfried’s cricketing prowess, despite him not playing the cricket match. It is quite puzzling why Siegfried would be reluctant to play.

But as the episode progresses, it turns out one of the cricket players/bowlers against James/Siegfried’s team is Freddie Trueman. Freddie Trueman is a real-life cricket player as my Mum pointed out to me.

Bill Cashmore plays Freddie Trueman in the episode. Of course, they couldn’t get the ‘real’ Freddie Trueman in the episode as he would look older in the 1980s compared to how he was in the 1950s. 🙂

This was a lesson the 2016 ‘Dad’s Army’ movie failed to learn when casting Frank Williams as the Vicar, who didn’t look as he was in the TV series compared to now. Why didn’t that movie take notes?

As this episode illustrates, Trueman is a very fast bowler and this could be why Siegfried was reluctant to take part in the cricket match. He didn’t want to go up against fast bowlers with the opposite team.

But Siegfried can’t back out of this one, even at the match with panama hat and white suit on. The suit and hat did get pressed ready for the cricket day before animals almost ruined them in the surgery.

You see what happens is this. James injures himself when his team are on the fielding front in the match. I’m surprised the captain of James’ team didn’t shout “Catch it Godfrey!” as in ‘Dad’s Army’. 🙂

Anyway, with James injured, Siegfried gets pressed into service. He takes James’ place to play in the batting part of the match. Siegfried clearly wasn’t looking forward to playing in the actual match itself.

Siegfried soon gets to play in the batting position and comes up against Freddie Trueman who’s about to bowl him one. Beforehand, Colonel Jenkins got bowled out. He clearly wasn’t happy about that. 😀

It’s like that ‘Terry and June’ episode with the cricket match in it here. 😀 Siegfried has a go at trying to hit the ball when Trueman throws it to him and…like Godfrey in ‘Dad’s Army’…he manages to hit it. Wow!

And he gets a six too! That was lucky! I was impressed by that. I hoped Siegfried would actually get some good innings after all. It seems Arnie Braithwaite’s claims about him good at cricket were justified.

Sadly though, Siegfried’s luck runs out when he manages to hit the second ball thrown at him by Trueman but it gets caught. Siegfried is out despite winning a six. This is a shame as I thought he did rather well.

The episode’s end credits are rather odd when we came to them. They include replayed scenes of Colonel Jenkins and Siegfried in the cricket match being bowled at by Trueman. It was pretty confusing.

‘Big Fish, Little Fish’ is an enjoyable ‘All Creatures’ episode with a cricket match in it. I like how Siegfried ended up playing cricket instead of James. The subplots with young Colin and Maggie the horse were good too.

‘Big Fish, Little Fish’ rating – 8/10

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