‘Big Steps and Little ‘Uns’ (TV)

 

‘BIG STEPS AND LITTLE ‘UNS’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

So here we are on the season finale of Series 3 in ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. And this is where it more or less ends for me regarding the classic and well-loved era of the ‘All Creatures’ TV series overall.

There are the two following Christmas Specials to enjoy after this, but it wouldn’t be same after this season finale of ‘All Creatures’ in Series 3. This is where our regulars depart for the Second World War.

Yep. James and Siegfried volunteer to join up for army service in the Second World War, leaving their comforts and home behind. Tristan, Helen and Mrs. Hall remain behind in Darrowby and hold the fort.

This was the last episode of ‘All Creatures’ transmitted in 1980. The series would return with Christmas Specials in 1983 and 1985 before returning proper with Series 4 in 1988. We’ll get to that season soon.

It was after Series 3 of ‘All Creatures’ that Peter Davison went on to play the Fifth Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’. It’s amazing that Peter went on to do great things after the original run of ‘All Creatures’ itself. 😀

It’s also interesting how the ‘All Creatures’ series returned to TV and continued after its original run during the 1980s. That’s for a discussion for another time, but this is where it could have easily ended.

I’m not sure why ‘All Creatures’ continued after Series 3 ended as the books by ‘James Herriot’ covered the series right up to the breakout of the Second World War. This is where it should’ve properly ended.

In any case, this episode is a pretty emotional one. It features heart-breaking departures for James and Siegfried as they go off to fight in the world war as they feel it’s their duty to protect their country.

This episode was adapted and directed by Terence Dudley from the ‘James Herriot’ books. Terence Dudley is a veteran contributor to the ‘All Creatures’ series. Intriguing how he writes and directs here.

It’s rare for one person to write and direct one episode of a TV series back in the day. Yet Terence Dudley was allowed to do it for this season finale of ‘All Creatures’ in Series 3. It’s superb he does that.

But it also seems unfair. If Terence Dudley can write and direct this final episode of ‘All Creatures’ in Series 3, why couldn’t Peter Grimwade write and direct his ‘Doctor Who’ tales for Peter Davison’s era.

Anyway, the episode begins with Siegfried meeting with Ted Moult as Harold Carter at Tanner’s farm. Incidentally, this episode was filmed during a heavy snowfall. It does feel almost Christmassy here. 😀

By the way, the episode takes place around March time. I don’t dispute that since snow has been known to fall during March time. I should know. I’ve had an experience of snow in March back in 2018.

But bear in mind, war was declared on Germany by Britain around September 1939. Which means that this episode takes place in March 1940. Therefore the war has been going on for some time here.

Back to Siegfried and Mr. Carter, they stop two boys fighting each other. This includes Stephen Dudley as Simon Tanner and Joe Figg as Fred. Simon punched Fred, the stable boy, for mistreating one animal.

After stopping the fight, it turns out that Simon is actually a decent and well-meaning lad. He has a love for animals, especially his pony who becomes rather ill. The vets get called and help Simon’s pony.

The episode also features Lynne Ross as Emma Tanner, Simon’s sister. Tristan takes a fancy to her when he’s called out to help sort out Simon’s pony at the Tanner farm before Siegfried comes to help.

There is a subplot where Simon goes missing for one day, looking for his pony that’s run off before he phones Siegfried at Skeldale for help. It’s interesting how Siegfried treats Simon’s pony situation here.

Simon has had her family worried sick and Siegfried berates him on the phone, calling him ‘a stupid boy’ whilst he’s concerned about his pony. Clearly a ‘Dad’s Army’ joke should slot in during this review. 😀

But despite Siegfried berating him Simon, he admires his love for his pony and even has him helping out during his treatment of the animal. Simon states himself he wants to be a vet one day earlier here.

Simon’s sister Emma comes into the barn where his pony’s being attended to, as she’s clearly worried about her brother. I do like how that scene was played out when Emma and his brother Simon reunite together.

The episode centres a lot on Siegfried and James’ final days at the Skeldale practice before they join their military units in the war. There is the sense of closure to many aspects of the ‘All Creatures’ show.

Things are pretty busy for James and Siegfried during their final days at Skeldale house before they join up their units. James gets repeatedly called out on cases when he wants to spend time with Helen.

It also seems that Mrs. Hall has attracted the attention of Mr. Carter in the episode who wants to marry her. This is the first time it’s established Mrs. Hall has an admirer in Mr. Carter for the TV series.

Mrs. Hall however is reluctant to marry Mr. Carter since she feels dutybound to stay at Skeldale House, especially for Siegfried and James when they come back. Siegfried later talks with Mrs. Hall about this.

Siegfried points out to Mrs. Hall that there may be a chance he and James won’t return from the war and she should consider that when marrying Mr. Carter. Mrs. Hall becomes emotionally upset from this.

Eventually, Mrs. Hall makes the announcement that she will marry Mr. Carter to Siegfried in the episode. But she later reveals to Mr. Carter she won’t marry him whilst Tristan is still home at Skeldale.

This episode also features Valerie Sarruf as Dr. Raczinski, who is a Polish vet that’s applied to cover Siegfried and James’ absence in Darrowby. The vets are rather surprised that Raczinski is a woman. 😀

They’d assumed Raczinski was a man. Siegfried, James and Tristan become really friendly towards Raczinski. Mind you, I don’t know why Tristan should be friendly especially as she’s too old for him. 😀

Also, why is James seemingly ‘friendly’ as he should remember he’s married to Helen. There’s also a sense of jealously at Helen and Mrs. Hall’s end. The two clearly don’t want Raczinski to stay at Skeldale.

In fact, Helen seems rather grumpy over the situation about a replacement vet covering James and Siegfried’s absence. I suppose Helen doesn’t want James and Siegfried to leave and join the war at all.

But as events turn out, Siegfried receives a call from Dr. Raczinski that she’s declined the position at Skeldale House and gone off to accept a job with…baby foods? Wow! I thought Raczinski was a vet! 😀

Siegfried, James and Tristan are clearly dismayed that Raczinski’s not coming. Helen and Mrs. Hall seem overjoyed about it. I’m not very certain why the women don’t want Raczinski to stay in Skeldale.

Mind you, I’m glad Raczinski didn’t become the new vet to cover James and Siegfried’s absence. It’s best for Tristan to hold the fort and I am sure he can manage especially with graduating his vet exams.

Oh yeah! That happened! Tristan receives the news from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons that he’s passed his exams and he’s become a fully qualified vet. This came out of nowhere, didn’t it?

I mean, I’m glad Tristan’s passed and fully qualified as a vet by the end of this original run in the series. But this was never built upon in the episode. It just came out of nowhere once Tristan received a letter.

Tristan soon gets called on a case, following his success being a qualified vet. He has a farewell scene with Siegfried. This was nicely handled. Tristan may never see his brother again when he comes home.

The episode soon has James saying goodbye to Siegfried when they’re sitting together in the living room at Skeldale House. It’s a poignant scene as the two reflect on the first time they meet each other.

I like how the scene plays out between James and Siegfried, as they share moments of quiet together. James finds himself talking away before realising that Siegfried’s fallen asleep. This was nice mirroring.

In the first episode of the series, James had fallen asleep whilst Siegfried chatted away. James soon leaves Siegfried to sleep before bumping into Mrs. Hall as he exits the living room following that scene.

Siegfried however wakes up once James and Mrs. Hall have gone before he pours himself another drink from the canter. He gives a toast to the house, saying he will miss it before going to join the war.

And after that, Siegfried’s gone. Yep, he’s gone off to fight in the war whilst James, Tristan, Helen and Mrs. Hall have remained behind. It was surreal thinking that Siegfried had gone off to fight in the war.

Incidentally, Siegfried gives James a small surprise gift of money, claiming that it is payment for the tuberculin testing he did during his honeymoon with Helen. But Helen reveals an intriguing revelation.

It seems that the payment for the tuberculing testing job by James has already been paid for since Helen attended to it herself. Siegfried’s surprise money gift was a parting friendship gesture to James.

Days later, Mrs. Hall gets a call from Mr. Mount. Yeah, do you remember him? He was in the episode, ‘If Wishes Were Horses’. Mount wants Siegfried to attend to one of his animals. But Siegfried has gone.

Mount won’t have Tristan come out to attend to one of his animals, due to previous events regarding Tristan dating his daughter. Helen is upset that James will have to do the job since it’s his last day here.

But Tristan soon goes to attend to Mr. Mount’s case in place of James, no matter what. It would’ve been so intriguing if David King returned to play Mr. Mount and have a scene between him and Tristan.

However, James is still denied to spend a last, quiet evening with Helen at home since he gets called out to attend to Charles West as Mr. Summergill’s dog. Mr. Summergil doesn’t use the phone himself.

He has Anna Turner as Miss Thompson the postmistress phone Skeldale on behalf of him. This happens twice in the TV story. This was quite amusing as Mr. Summergil doesn’t like to make use of the phone.

Helen accompanies James when they go to see Mr. Summergil and attend to his dog. Thankfully the dog gets healed by James pretty quickly and all is well. Mr. Summergil is really grateful about it as well.

The episode ends with James and Helen having an emotional farewell together; before he goes off in a car to join his military unit in the war. He says farewell to Mrs. Hall and Tristan too, leaving Darrowby.

The last shots of James in the car and given waves by the Darrowby residents whilst the end credits rolled up were very touching. It was also pretty saddening with James heading off to join up in the war.

‘Big Steps and Little ‘Uns’ is an emotional farewell to the ‘All Creatures’ series in its original run. I didn’t like how things came to an end here, but there are still the two Christmas Specials to look forward to.

Series 3 of ‘All Creatures’ has been pretty enjoyable overall. Despite the outbreak of war featured throughout the season, there were some nice episode featuring good comedy and drama throughout.

‘Big Steps and Little ‘Uns’ rating – 8/10


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