‘Faint Hearts’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

This is an enjoyable episode in the ‘All Creatures’ series as it sees Tristan trying to win the attention of an attractive, upper class girl in the country whilst James has a number of animal troubles to deal with.

‘Faint Heart’ is by Anthony Steven. Wait a minute! It says an episode ‘by’ Anthony Steven, not ‘adapted by’ him. I wonder if this was a mistake as ‘adapted from the books by James Herriot’ is at the beginning.

The episode is also directed by Robert Tronson. Robert Tronson previously directed ‘Fair Means and Fowl’ in Series 2 of ‘All Creatures’. He would direct more episodes in the TV series in 1978 and in 1988.

The episode begins with James attending to Harry Walker as Tim Alton’s animals at his farm. James gets to see Tim Alton’s prize pig who eats happily away and you can so easily hear the noise she makes.

Then we cut to James staring at a woman making slurping noises with her soup at a swank French restaurant. Helen tells James not stare as he admits that the woman eating reminds him of something.

Siegfried and Tristan are also staring at the noisy woman eating when James stares. 😀 Incidentally, our four main ‘All Creatures’ characters are at this swank French restaurant having a wonderful lunch.

This is all paid for by Mrs. Pumphrey and Tricki-Woo which I think is a nice gesture. James, Helen, Tristan and Siegfried are pretty lucky to have Mrs. Pumphrey as their favourite customers in the series.

One of the waiters (or is it maitre’d?) at the French restaurant is André Maranne as Jacques…okay! Stop the episode! Stop the episode! How can I take this ‘All Creatures’ story seriously? André’s in this!

André Maranne played André in the ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode, ‘Gourmet Night’. He was also in the ‘Doctor Who’ story, ‘The Moonbase’ with Patrick Troughton. It was a delight to see André in this story.

Also at the restaurant, Tristan meets Caroline Holdaway as Julia Tavener. Julia’s a rather snooty sort who seems to be obsessed about having lobster at the restaurant, yet Tristan seems very keen on her.

Tristan wants to meet up with her and make a fine impression. In the episode, Tristan gets the chance to once James gets called out at some point to treat the Taveners’ dog at their very big, wealthy house.

I found it funny when James tells Tristan he’s going out to the Taveners and Tristan realises before going to join him. James tells Tristan does not need help but it’s not why he is going with him, is it? 😀

At the Taveners’ residence, as well as Julia, there’s also Glyn Owen as Dick Tavener and Pamela Gale as Mrs. Tavener. Glyn Owen was also in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV tale, ‘The Power of Kroll’ with Tom Baker.

When Tristan is with Julia alone outside when they go for a walk and when she puts on her make-up, he offers to get her a lobster meal at the French restaurant to which she did not get. She takes interest.

I liked that scene between James and Dick Tavener inside the house after he finishes treating the dog. They both talk and share their wedded lives as it was a nice bit of character interaction between them.

I also liked it during the episode when Tristan gets to see Margaretta Scott as Mrs. Pumphrey, who visits the surgery bringing Tricki-Woo with her. She offers advice to Tristan whilst he is in pursuit Julia.

It’s interesting how word gets around so quickly to Mrs. Pumphrey in hearing the news about Tristan pursuing Julia Tavener. Again, this was nice character interaction between Tristan and Mrs. Pumphrey.

Meanwhile with James, he has two vet cases to deal with before attending a performance of Handel’s Messiah at the local church with Helen and the others. However this doesn’t go to plan for James here.

The first case is fine as James sees to a dog named Prince with Una Brandon-Jones as Miss Stubbs and Jean Marlow as Mrs. Broadwith. Sadly that dog dies later in the episode which was rather bittersweet.

The second case however has James visit the Bellerbys’ place to treat a sick cow. Once he’s done this, he agrees to give the Bellerbys a lift to the village. They are also attending the Handel’s Messiah as he.

The Bellerbys include Joby Blanshard as Mr. Bellerby; June Ellis as Mrs. Bellerby; Tricia George as Ruth Bellerby and Sam Naylor as Bob Bellerby. These four Bellerby drag on with their lunch before they go.

This has James concerned since he waits for them to finish their meal before the performances grows nearer. Um, why couldn’t have phoned everybody back at Skeldale House to let them what’s occurred.

I mean, I know it would upset Mrs. Hall in him not turning up for the lunch our ‘All Creatures’ characters have at Skeldale. But at least it would reassure everyone back at Skeldale that James is fine.

In fact, why do the Bellerbys have their lunch before going to the Handel’s Messiah? They cause delays for James before they go off, including Ruth Bellerby getting his brother Bob to join their family outing.

James drives back to Darrowby with the Bellerbys in his car at high speed. Yet he doesn’t go to the church with the Handel’s Messiah but goes back to Skeldale first. Perhaps he hoped to have lunch first.

But it turns out James is late as he meets Mrs. Hall who’s unhappy and is making her way to the church. It also seems Helen’s not happy with James either. We don’t see that in the episode which is a bit odd.

Usually in character dramas, we see the tension between characters on what happens when someone is late for something. Perhaps the BBC didn’t want to show that tense character drama in the episode.

Mind you, Helen seems to have forgiven James by the time we see her again later on in the episode. James does not attend the Handel’s Messiah whilst it happens, but at least he is forgiven for it anyway.

Also in the episode, James gets called to treat Tim Alton’s prize pig who we saw at the start of the episode. The pig seems to have gone off her feed. Thankfully James comes with a solution to cure her.

The episode also features Alison Ambler as Jennie Alton, Tim Alton’s daughter. Jennie offers to do the farm work for her dad while he rest to recover from all of the hard work he’s been doing which is nice.

There’s also a dilemma that James has when dealing with Anthea Holloway as Mrs. Tompkins’ budgie. The budgie unfortunately dies of fright when James has it in his care in surgery. This causes a problem.

James panics when he’s with Mrs. Hall as he doesn’t know what to do and wants to prevent upsetting Mrs. Tompkins. Thankfully Mrs. Hall suggests he goes and buys a replacement budgie at a budgie shop.

This James does when he goes to visit Bernard Atha as Jack Almond at his budgie shop. I found it funny when Mr. Almond was showing off his budgies and James gets impatient in acquiring the one he wants.

It was equally funny when Mrs. Tompkins visits the surgery again that she finds her budgie ‘changed’ in that its chats a lot. But she does not mind as she finds it a relief. It allows James to get away with it.

The episode also features Peter Martin return as Farmer Handshaw. Handshaw becomes a jerk as usual when James visits his farm to attend to his cows. What is it about unfriendly farmers in ‘All Creatures’?

Meanwhile back to Tristan, he manages to get a date with Julia Tavener when they go to have a lobster meal as promised at the French restaurant. Tristan even almost dresses up like the Fifth Doctor in this.

Recall the ‘Pebble Mill at One’ interview with Peter Davison following his announcement for ‘Doctor Who’? Well, the costume he wears in this TV episode was similar to one suggested for his new Doctor.

The costume’s meant for punting of course, but had Peter Davison gone in white trousers and white trainers and worn a blue blazer over it, it would’ve been really good. I would have gone with that look.

The date Tristan has with Julia meanwhile goes almost according to plan. The meal was fine, but when they go out to punt on the river, Tristan accidentally causes Julia to fall in the river. Embarrassing!!! 😀

I don’t think Tristan should’ve been laughing either when he sees Julia in the state she’s in. I would’ve thought that would be the end of Tristan and Julia together following that very embarrassing incident.

But strangely not. Tristan soon finds himself trapped by Julia’s constant attention afterwards. Siegfried offers his brother some advice to admit to Julia that he’s rather penniless and is not as wealthy as her.

Tristan goes along with this suggestion but it soon ends up with Julia being more attached to him. She drives him back home to Skeldale House and kisses him really passionately in her car that seems much.

Of course Tristan is annoyed with Siegfried and he’s got a lot of lipstick all over his face from Julia’s kissing. I wondered how Tristan would get out of his relationship with Julia by the episode’s conclusion.

Incidentally, the episode ends with Tristan getting a letter and asking Siegfried if he’s entitled to a holiday. Siegfried tells him he isn’t and Tristan is thrilled. He was invited to a holiday with the Taveners.

Apparently it would’ve been an ‘all expenses paid’ holiday with the Taveners. Thus this ends Tristan’s relationship with Julia? Siegfried appears to be put off by Tristan’s exit from his relationship with Julia.

‘Faint Hearts’ is an enjoyable episode in the ‘All Creatures’ series. The highlight is of course Tristan’s pursuit of Julia Tavener in the episode. The phrase ‘faint heart’ gets mentioned a few times in this tale.

‘Faint Hearts’ rating – 8/10

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