‘Cheques and Balances’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

This is an ‘All Creatures’ episode of financial proportions. Don’t worry! It’s not as boring as it sounds. On the contrary, I found this episode very entertaining to watch and it has plenty of comedic moments.

By the way, remember that Willie Bannister character from the previous episode? No mention of him whatsoever in this! Wow! I mean, I know he was on a temporary placement for two weeks…but wow!

Tristan didn’t get a proper farewell episode in Series 5 and yet he got a mention in the next one without him. Willie Bannister deserves two episodes in the time he was in the series. He had potential!

Also, no sign of Calum and Deidre together in this episode. I’m sure there’ll be another Deidre appearance in Series 5, but she’s only had two episodes so far and she does seem reduced in character.

Anyway, ‘Cheques and Balances’ is the title of the ninth episode of Series 5 in ‘All Creatures’. The episode, based on the ‘James Herriot’ novels, is by Johnny Bryne! He’s returned on top form here! 😀

We’re also on the last production block of four episodes in the twelve for Series 5 of ‘All Creatures’. The first of these final four Series 5 episodes is directed by Tony Virgo. He has directed a ‘Doctor Who’.

Tony Virgo was the director of ‘The King’s Demons’ with Peter Davison. I’ve not seen a lot of TV work directed by Tony Virgo. It was great to find he directed episodes of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ too.

In this episode, Siegfried goes on the warpath when some farmers haven’t paid their bills. And that literally happens I mean. I found it amusing as Siegfried’s rage gets built on when looking through the bills.

Helen watches him and the kettle whistles in the kitchen nearby. That was so funny for the kettle whistling to signify Siegfried’s anger being built upon. Helen leaves the room whilst Siegfried tantrums.

But yeah, farmers haven’t paid their bills in the episode. This does sound familiar, doesn’t it? Yeah! This happened before in the Series 2 episode ‘Tricks of the Trade’. And that was by Johnny Byrne also!

This is another example of where Johnny Byrne rehashes a plot used in another TV episode beforehand. This was done before with rehashing the Granville Bennett plots in ‘…The Healing Touch’.

Now don’t get me wrong. I did enjoy this episode as it was very entertaining to watch. And I like how Johnny Byrne readdresses issues that were going on in the original run for the reboot era of the series.

But this surely must be a sign of the writers running out of ideas. Clearly ‘All Creatures’ has been going on for too long and there must be a way for the series to stop when it needs to before it becomes flat.

Anyway, Siegfried is determined to get these farmers to pay up their bills. One of them hasn’t paid his bill for three years apparently. James, Helen and Calum are there to support Siegfried getting the bills.

The Skeldale crew draw up a black list for the worst offenders in the Darrowby area. James, Helen, Calum get assigned certain farmers to tackle with in order to address the issues head on for these bills.

Helen has the easy job with posting reminders for farmers to pay their bills on ‘market day’. Mind you, this could be for the farmers who aren’t so bad in debt compared to other farmers this particular case here.

Calum doesn’t get a very nice farmer to contend with when he goes out to see him and get him to pay his bill on ‘market day’. That farmer happens to be Bryan Pringle as Grimsdale. Have I seen him before?

Yes! I have seen him before! Bryan Pringle was in one of the Christmas Specials for ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’. The 1974 one called ‘Jessica’s First Christmas’. I was delighted to watch him in the episode.

Looking ahead, Grimsdale has two more appearances in the ‘All Creatures’ series – one in Series 6 and one in Series 7. Oh my! I imagine Grimsdale will be a troublesome customer in his future appearances.

Speaking of which, Calum does his best to make Grimsdale open the envelope and pay for his bills on ‘market day’. Yet Grimsdale tries to avoid opening the envelope and keeps poking Calum with his stick.

Calum is also made to look at a cow belonging to Grimsdale whilst he’s there. Calum does everything he can to get Grimsdale to look at the bill until eventually the cow poos all over it. That was disgusting!

We didn’t need to see the cow pooing herself all over the bill, did we? This was Sunday evening television in the late 1980s, right? I thought things would be tamer back then compared to what’s on today. 😀

Calum tries again on a second visit to get Calum to open the envelope and come to pay the bill on ‘market bill’. This works when he looks at the cow and forces the envelope into Grimsdale’s hand here.

I got to admire Calum’s determination and drive to make Grimsdale pay his bill. It also goes to show how some people like Grimsdale can be so ignorant and selfish to not pay their bills once they’re asked to.

Believe me, I know what it feels like. I’ve asked for refunds on some things I’ve paid for but never got sent to me and yet the refund never came. The reality of things comes across pretty well in this episode.

On ‘market day’, Grimsdale comes in to see Helen and Calum but he refuses to pay his bill. Wow! He does everything he can to not pay his bill. I wonder why our main heroes serve these tricky customers.

Grimsdale complains about the details being incorrect on his bills. But Helen points out he’s confused over the words ‘ditto’ on his bill and saying that everything on that bill is correct. Glad that is cleared up.

Fortunately, Grimsdale pays by cheque which Helen and Calum are very pleased about. Goodness, I wonder what trouble Grimsdale will cause in future stories when he returns to ‘All Creatures’ later on.

James also has to deal with John Sharp as Mr. Biggins in the episode. Goodness me, why do you people keep having Biggins as a customer. You know he’ll be pretty moany and whingy the times you see him.

Once again, Biggins complains about paying too much for the veterinary services. James, bless him, does his best to be patient with Biggins when he is attending to his cow that get bloated or something.

But James does lash out at one point to Biggins when he can’t tolerate his moaning and whinging any longer. Honestly, James. Do not serve Biggins if he keeps on being like that. Let his animals suffer hell! 😀

Okay, I don’t mean that but still. How come the Skeldale vets keep having Biggins when he’s such a moaner and a complainer a lot. In fact, there’s something that I’ve just realised about Mr. Biggins here.

In the series, James is the one who always serves Biggins out on his farm. Why does he get the last straw for doing jobs for Biggins. I can’t recall Siegfried, Tristan or even Calum helping Mr. Biggins a lot.

I mean okay, there’s one occasion where Tristan’s with Biggins talking about one of his animals acting peculiar at the Drovers – in one of the original run episode, I add. But that’s about it as far as I can recall.

And that was in a comedic and light-hearted manner. Every time Biggins is in the series with James, he’s always difficult and not helpful to James as he’s explains a problem to him about one of his farm animals.

And once again, James has the difficult task of getting a bill paid from Biggins when he goes to visit him at his farm and attend one of his cows. Or maybe he doesn’t. Yeah. It seems that it was quite easy.

Once James demands in a fit of anger to have a bill paid by Mr. Biggins, Mr. Biggins obliges. Wow! I would have expected Biggins to complain and argue with James a lot. Even James was surprised by it.

Inside the Biggins’ household, Biggins writes out the cheque to give to James. I didn’t know what to expect with where this scene was going. There had to be a catch somewhere. Biggins cannot be willing.

James is then invited to have a turkey meal with Biggins and wife whilst they have beef. Incidentally, Margaret Jackman plays Mrs. Hilda Biggins the wife in the episode. And she doesn’t say a word! At all!

Yeah. She contributed only the cooking of the turkey meal for James. Which seems convenient doesn’t it when she and Mr. Biggins are having beef, now I think about. In fact, there is something else to add.

Wasn’t Mrs. Biggins played by a different actress in another episode? Yes she was! She was played by Kathleen Helme in ‘Every Dog His Day…’. And she had lines in that episode. How come this one didn’t?

After James has his meal given to him by the Biggins couple, Mr. Biggins offers him two diseased birds. It may turn out that James might have actually eaten a diseased turkey. Whoa! That’s gone really dark!

But it may turn out that Biggins was winding him up. Or was he? Mind you, James is in the rest of the series. But still, he could’ve died at the episode’s end. Thankfully he didn’t. It was a nasty tricked played on him.

This is one of the reasons why I’ve grown to like Biggins less and less as a character. Quite frankly, I think the Skeldale vets should stop having him as a customer. He stars in more episodes after this one.

Well, at least he got the cheque from Biggins. Thank goodness! I thought for a moment Biggins was going to poison James to pass out so that he could steal the cheque from him. That could’ve happened.

Siegfried, Helen and Calum also have more success at their end. As well as Grimsdale and Biggins, they also get a cheque from difficult farmer Anthony Langdon as Mallaby. He’s not a very friendly chap either.

I liked that glare Calum gave to Mallaby to put him off. Siegfried, Helen and Calum waste no time and no nonsense with getting the cheque off from Mallaby. Siegfried feels rather pleased with him as well.

Sadly though, not every customer they try to get payment from is successful. It turns out Mark Kingston as Major Bullen hasn’t paid his bills and there are actually rumours about him being bankrupt.

Siegfried doesn’t take much notice though, as he finds Major Bullen to be quite a gentleman. He’s quite sure the Major will pay up. This is despite him trying to get payment from him when visiting him.

Major Bullen even dodges paying Fred Feast as Mallock for something, to which Siegfried witnesses this. In the end, Major Bullen manages to avoid paying the Skeldale vets which has Siegfried distressed.

There’s also Ken Wynne as Dennis Pratt, who seems a genuinely pleasant man but manages to avoid paying the requirement amount the vets ask for. Instead he pays £5 via cheque. £5! Oh dear, dear me!

‘Cheques and Balances’ has been an enjoyable ‘All Creatures’ episode to watch. It did get dark when Mr. Biggins might have fed James a poisoned turkey meal. But everything else was pretty entertaining.

‘Cheques and Balances’ rating – 8/10

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