‘Blood and Water’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

My parents and I found ourselves laughing during this episode. Honestly, we found some of the stuff in this episode really funny. This is especially when Siegfried tried to back out of a committee meeting.

For the second episode featuring the James-Siegfried duo as well as Helen for the rest of Series 6, the Skeldale vets get extra help from returning character. It is someone I wasn’t expecting to return at all.

‘Blood and Water’, based on the ‘James Herriot’ books is by Brian Finch. This is the second contribution made by Brian Finch to Series 6 of ‘All Creatures’ and is the last for the entire series. Aw! Such a shame!

This episode is also the first of the second production block to be directed by a new director. ‘Blood and Water’ happens to be Michael Brayshaw’s very first contribution to ‘All Creatures’ as a director. 🙂

This is clearly indicated by the change of title sequence where Robert Hardy as Siegfried and Christopher Timothy as James exit a shop and get into a car. I was surprised by the new title sequence.

There’s also a new title card given for Lynda Bellingham as Helen, which is an improvement on the previous one. The new title sequence must be for the next three episodes from Michael Brayshaw too.

Looking ahead, I’ve also noticed the end credits sequence has changed too. It features shots of James and Siegfried driving about in cars in the countryside. This must be for the next three episodes too. 😀

Anyway, the episode features the two Strong brothers. There’s Gordon Gostelow as Oliver Strong and Walter Sparrow as Roland Strong. The two brothers have been feuding with each other for a long time.

But before we get to them, James receives high praise from one of his clients – Barry Jackson as Mr. Dowson. I did not realise it was Barry Jackson until half-way since he had a moustache for the episode.

Barry Jackson has been in ‘Doctor Who’ in stories such as ‘The Romans’, ‘Mission to the Unknown’ and ‘The Armageddon Factor’. I was pleased to see Barry Jackson here and he did a good performance.

This isn’t the first time Barry Jackson has been in ‘All Creatures’ though. He’s done another episode called ‘Matters of Life and Death’ from Series 3 where he played Ken Billings. How times change here.

In this episode, James is quite embarrassed by Mr. Dowson praising the heck out of him for his veterinary skills. I appreciate James feeling uncomfortable since it is rather over-the-top here, isn’t it?

But like Siegfried said, James should enjoy the appreciation he gets. This is true as very often there are farmers in the ‘All Creatures’ series who are pretty bitter and grudging instead of high-praising like Dowson.

Sometimes James comes up with miracle cures for Mr. Dowson’s animals which he hadn’t intended. For example, there is a cow who keeps kicking buckets of water when Dowson puts one down for her.

James applies this treatment which shouldn’t really treat the cow overnight. Fortunately it does and Dowson gives James the high praise again, even if it was a hour after the time James said it’d be cured.

It also gets uncomfortable for James when Dowson meets him in the Drovers to give him more high praise. Siegfried seems to relish seeing James being uncomfortable when Mr. Dowson praises him. 😀

Anyway, James raises his concerns to Siegfried about Skeldale being short-staffed with Calum now in Nova Scotia and Tristan still away in Ireland. But not to fear! Siegfried has the answer to their problem!

Siegfried has arranged for Willie Bannister to return and assist them for a time. Yeah! Willie Bannister! Recall him? Willie was that teetotaller and vegetarian from the Series 5 episode ‘The Salt of the Earth’.

Derek Hicks returns to play Willie Bannister in the episode and has a little moustache now. Thank goodness Calum left the series when he did before Willie returned since he would not have coped. 😀

Willie’s still the same smug book-reading type he was from the previous episode and is very conscious about his vegetarian habits. Siegfried and James manage to cope okay with Willie compared to Calum.

In this episode, Willie has a new girlfriend, Colette Stevenson as Glenys Truscott. Gee! What happened to the previous girlfriend Willie had? At least she was referred to by James once he brought her up. 😀

Unfortunately the pub lunch dinner date Willie has with Colette doesn’t go according to plan. Colette has a salad sandwich with Willie as well as a glass of water, but she isn’t allowed to have salt and pepper.

Willie also disapproves of Colette’s smoking habits. Um, I don’t think that’s the way to handle a girl Willie? Especially on a first date! You shouldn’t try to change a person before getting to know him/her.

The two of course end up having an argument where Glenys calls Willie ‘silly’ and he calls her ‘silly’. They’re both silly to me. Glenys leaves in a huff, after pouring two glasses of water onto Willie’s head!

Wow! That was a quick relationship! Willie is even smug enough to smile at Siegfried and James once Glenys left. I don’t think that Willie will have much luck getting a permeant relationship the way he is.

Going back to the Strong brothers, James gets called out to examine a dead rabbit. He finds both the Strong brothers pretty rude, especially when they have not spoken to each other for nearly fifty years.

Now you’d think this is the episode where the two brothers resolved their differences. It could easily be done. Surprisingly, that did not occur. The two brothers still do not talk to each other by the ending.

They don’t even return for another episode I don’t think. It’s clear what the two brothers are feuding over. It’s left pretty vague and we don’t get to see the two brothers interacting with each other here.

As James examines the dead rabbit and receives the lab results on what kind of poisoning it was that killed it, it seems Roland Strong put something on his cabbages for Oliver Strong’s rabbit to eat. Hmm!

James and Willie examine the cabbages kept inside the container keeping them to find out what’s up with them. It gets confirmed that Roland Strong’s cabbages are responsible for killing that poor rabbit.

I don’t think Roland Strong could care less if his cabbages did kill the rabbit, especially since he’s so rude to James when he asks for the whereabouts of his brother. Roland demands he’d get off his land.

Oliver Strong is no better either, especially when he gets impatient about James examining the dead rabbit and wanting to know the results of the tests. How our vets cope with these clients staggers me.

Speaking of which, Skeldale receives a visit from Peter Martin as Mr. Hartley (or Handshaw – Maybe it is Hartley since he’s nothing at all like Handshaw). Anyway, Mr. Hartley has come to see Siegfried. 🙂

Mr. Hartley ropes Siegfried in to be a speaker at a local farmers group taking place at the Drovers. It seems Siegfried agreed to be a speaker a while back. Siegfried forgot about it as he wants to back out.

I found it funny when Siegfried tried to check the diary to see whether he’s available for a certain Monday. James checks to see that he is free for Monday in the diary, which Siegfried isn’t happy about.

Throughout the episode, Siegfried tries to find ways to back out of this meeting to be speaker. This is especially as farmers he knows of who tend to complain about payment are going to be in attendance.

This includes John Sharp as Mr. Biggins – Oh no! Not him again! I despair whenever I see him on screen nowadays. Thankfully he doesn’t almost kill James with a poisoned turkey like he did the last occasion.

It isn’t James whom Biggins has come to see this time when he comes to Skeldale surgery. It’s Siegfried! Biggins wants to confirm he’s the speaker for the next local farmers group meeting. Siegfried say ‘yes’.

Biggins seems to relish the prospect of making complaints to Siegfried during the next local farmers group meeting at the Drovers on Monday next week. How can he be so ungrateful to our friendly vets?

There’s also Bryan Pringle as Mr. Grimsdale. Grimsdale has been in ‘All Creatures’ before in the episode ‘Cheques and Balances’. Bryan Pringle has also been in a ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’ episode.

Like Biggins, Grimsdale is not to happy about the payments he has to make for the vets’ services to his animals. He expresses this to Siegfried when he attends to one of his pigs before the meeting happens.

Siegfried does everything he can to try and back out of being the speaker at the meeting. He tries to persuade James to do the meeting instead. But James tells Siegfried that Helen wouldn’t hear of it. 😀

He does have some luck with Willie who agrees to do the meeting, thinking he’s doing it on behalf of James I believe. I knew Siegfried was going to ask Willie to do the meeting instead before he had asked.

But then a phone call comes through for Willie before next Monday. Even my parents and I knew what was coming and we laughed at it. It seems Willie’s brother is having this birthday party on the Monday.

The birthday has been moved forward than scheduled due to circumstances. Willie apologies profusely for letting Siegfried and James down. He looked forward to being the speaker at the meeting.

And that’s the last we see of Willie. No joke! He never comes back! He was there for a short time of course, but he doesn’t return to the ‘All Creatures’ series in future episodes. Again, this was short-lived!

I don’t know if Willie would’ve worked in future episodes had he’d been a permeant member of staff to the Skeldale household. But it has me wonder who will get employed next time with James and Siegfried.

Siegfried of course is disappointed about Willie not being able to be speaker for the local farmers group meeting. Thus, he has to do the meeting after all. He’s not looking forward to it as clearly shown.

At the meeting, Siegfried is talking to a group of glum-faced farmers including Biggins, Grimsdale and Roland Strong. He doesn’t even get offered a glass of beer whilst he’s saying his speech at the meeting.

During the Q&A, farmers like Biggins, Grimsdale and Roland Strong ask questions to criticise the high bills they have to pay to the vets. Biggins even refers to the incident from ‘The Female of the Species’.

Thankfully Siegfried has an excuse to leave the meeting when a call is required for his vet services. He meets up with James in the Drovers before they both escape the wrath of the farmers coming out. 😀

‘Blood and Water’ is a very good ‘All Creatures’ episode. I enjoyed Willie Bannister and how Siegfried tried to back out of a meeting but failed miserably. It’s a reboot episode my parents and I found funny.

‘Blood and Water’ rating – 8/10

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