‘Charity Begins At Home’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

This is a rather sweet episode in Series 3 of ‘All Creatures’. It features a nice story about a stray cat that gets taken into the home of the Herriots. It also happens to be Tristan’s birthday in the episode.

‘Charity Begins At Home’ is adapted by Terence Dudley from the ‘James Herriot’ books. This happens to be Terence Dudley’s second contribution as a writer to Series 3 during the ‘All Creatures’ TV show.

The episode is also directed by Richard Bramall, who is new to the ‘All Creatures’ series in terms of being a director. He would direct three more episodes of Series 3 that were made in 1980 at that time.

Anyway, the episode begins with Siegfried bumping into Kenneth Waller as Mr. Ronald Beresford, the manager of the local bank. He tells Siegfried that his dog has been behaving very badly in the car.

And if you’re wondering where this plot thread is going…it doesn’t. Yeah! I didn’t feel like this was a significant plot point in the episode. It gets referenced now and again, but it didn’t have that impact.

This seems rather pointless! Why have this plot point if it doesn’t get developed strongly in the episode. Maybe Mr. Beresford comes back into the series later on…oh wait, he does! The next one!

Okay, well, maybe I’m jumping the gun here. But in terms of everything else that happens in the episode, why couldn’t this all be saved in the third episode of Series 3. Why stretch it in two episodes?

Anyway, Tristan gets told by Julie Shipley as Marjorie Simpson that she found a severely injured cat. Tristan goes to save it and brings it back to Skeldale House where he and James attend to it together.

When James attends to the injured cat, the first instinct he has to have him be put down. But when Tristan persuades James to find another way of treating, James does and stitches him back together.

Thankfully the cat is saved. Helen soon promptly adopts him, calling him Oscar. She nurses the cat back to health and it’s clear she’s in love with him. James takes an interest in Helen’s love for Oscar.

I liked that scene where Helen becomes worried about Oscar’s disappearance since he seems to have wandered off. James tries to reassure Helen not to worry as he’s taken lessons from Mrs. Bond.

Eventually, Mrs. Hall brings the cat to Helen and James in their little room upstairs since Oscar was at a women’s meeting. Helen is overjoyed to see Oscar returned to them, as she was clearly concerned.

It seems apparent that Oscar has a tendency to go to various places off his own accord and for no seemingly apparent reason. Helen and James become accustomed to Oscar’s disappearing acts here.

Every once and a while, someone finds Oscar and brings him back to Skeldale House for Helen and James. I did wonder if Oscar was to be a pet cat for Helen and James to keep in the rest of the series.

Sadly that’s not the case as it turns out the cat belongs to the Gibbons family, when Duncan Preston as Sep Gibbons comes to collect him. It also transpires the cat’s Oscar. His real name is actually Tiger.

Helen is clearly devastated when she learns the cat belongs to the Gibbons family and she has to give him up. I liked it the scenes where Helen willingly allows Sep Gibbons to take the cat back home.

Sep Gibbons is grateful to Helen and James for looking after the cat. Very soon, Helen and James come to visit the Gibbons family, although Tiger’s not around since he’s on one of his little jaunts. 😀

Also in the episode, Tristan woos the lovely Marjorie Simpson. Marjorie seems impressed by Tristan’s efforts in saving the cat. Tristan takes the credit, even though James and Helen helped too.

Tristan, you jerk! 😀 Anyway, Tristan and Marjorie start dating together. It’s amazing how Tristan keeps dating girls after Alice McTavish, especially when he seemed to be genuinely in love with her.

Mind you, I don’t know how Tristan’s dating with Marjorie will turn out in the series. At this point, I’m guessing it’ll be short-lived especially as Tristan can’t have another drink at the Drovers with her.

Siegfried also meets a potential love interest in Jane Morant as Sarah Raworth. They seem to hit it off well together in this episode, especially when Siegfried seems to take an interest in Sarah’s horse.

Like with the Tristan and Marjorie, I’m not sure how long this relationship will work out and guess it will be short-lived. It always seems to be the case. The Farnons don’t have long-lasting relationships.

I also didn’t feel the introduction of Sarah Raworth in the series had a huge impact on me, like with the Mr. Beresford and bad dog stuff. Maybe this will be developed in a future episode…oh it doesn’t.

Yeah! After this episode, both Marjorie Simpson and Sarah Raworth never return to the series again! I know I guessed these relationships will be short-lived, but it could’ve lasted for about two episodes.

Anyway, James also attends to Wally Thomas as the elderly Mr. Bailey who has a dog that’s developed a bad case of bronchitis. Mr. Bailey doesn’t sound especially good himself with breathing.

James attends to the dog with no trouble and Mr. Bailey asks how much he has to pay. But James waives the fee, telling Mr. Bailey he doesn’t have to pay anything. This has Mr. Bailey very surprised.

Siegfried later criticizes James for waiving the fee, saying he shouldn’t let customers that are elderly be free of charge. This annoys James somewhat, but he takes on the advice Siegfried has suggested.

However, Siegfried has trouble following his own advice. When Mr. Bailey comes in to visit again with his dog and h asks to pay, Siegfried waives the fee himself, telling him he does not have to pay.

Again! Inconsistency with Siegfried’s character! How come he was rebuking James for letting elderly people for not paying and then doing it himself?! It must get James really annoyed when this occurs.

This is clearly shown when Ken Kitson as Ted Dobson asks the vets to attend to a certain dog. Ken Kitson later played Giant Rumblebuffin in the BBC version of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’.

The certain dog that Ted Dobson wants the vets to see belongs to Burt Brooks as Mr. Albert Close. Apparently the dog has an ectopic infection around the eyes that Albert Close seems to be ignorant of.

There is more to that though. Albert Close doesn’t seem willing to pay for the operation on his poor dog’s eyes. James, abiding Siegfried’s advice, isn’t willing to do the operation against Albert’s wishes.

But Siegfried insists they carry out the operation without payment. James is annoyed by this of course and eventually the operation takes place, with Ted Dobson and lots of blokes standing about.

I found it funny when Siegfried, James and Tristan attended to the patient and they had too many people watching nearby. Ted Dobson even faints at the sight of (what I assume is) a very gory scene.

Fortunately the dog’s ectopic infection is removed and is soon restored back to normal. Everyone has a drink from the Farnon brothers and James. Ted Dobson is woken up from his faint with a drink.

But of course, a highlight of this episode is when everyone celebrates Tristan’s birthday. Tristan has had his eye on a brand new guitar in a shop. He lost his guitar when it got stepped on previous time.

That was done by Kitty in ‘Plenty To Grouse About’. Anyway, when Tristan looks into the shop to see the guitar, he finds it to be gone and bought for. I’m reminded of a Norman Wisdom film seeing that.

Tristan is saddened of course, but thankfully he gets to celebrate his birthday with James, Helen, Siegfried and Mrs. Hall at Skeldale House. He enjoys himself and gets to blow out candles on a cake.

The surprise gift for Tristan of course is…the guitar! Apparently it was bought with his mother’s money by Siegfried. Tristan is overjoyed as he starts to play his guitar before the end credits roll up.

‘Charity Begins At Home’ is a modestly good episode in ‘All Creatures’. I wouldn’t call it an outstanding episode, but I did enjoy that little story about James and Helen owning a cat for a while.

‘Charity Begins At Home’ rating – 8/10

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