‘It Takes All Kinds’ (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

it takes all kinds all creatures

The third episode of ‘All Creatures’ sees our three main leads already established. They conduct their routine business as vets; although they get a new secretary and James meets a really attractive lady.

‘It Takes All Kinds’ was adapted by Johnny Byrne from the books by ‘James Herriot’. Ah! Johnny Byrne! I recognise his name as he wrote three ‘Doctor Who’ stories, including ‘The Keeper of Traken’.

This episode is also directed by Christopher Baker. I’ve not come across him as a director before. He previously directed episodes of ‘The Brothers’ and ‘Z Cars’ and he later directed ‘Star Cops’ episodes.

In this ‘All Creatures’ episode, Siegfried decides to have a change around the veterinary. There’s a lot of paperwork that needs to be done and he decides to employ a secretary to help out with the work.

This secretary happens to be Madge Ryan as Miss Harbottle. Miss Harbottle isn’t the most friendliest and relaxed of people compared to Siegfried. She’s strict and thinks herself really efficient in her job.

The moment Miss Harbottle arrives, she causes unrest in the Skeldale household. She tries to do her job keeping the business running, but gets frustrated when Siegfried doesn’t adhere to her demands.

Siegfried gradually gets put-out by Miss Harbottle’s strict manner and keeps trying to avoid having meetings with her. He does have his moments in questioning and ridiculing Miss Harbottle’s efforts.

There’s also an example when Miss Harbottle tells James to answer a phone call whilst he’s helping Siegfried in the middle of treating a cat. For one thing, she should not interrupt James during his job.

Secondly, she’s not the boss at Skeldale House, is she? She’s so nit-picky and irritating for Siegfried and the others to handle. I look forward to when Miss Harbottle leaves the series, as she’s got to go.

Miss Harbottle is also unimpressed by Siegfried’s money-handling arrangements, especially with the petty cash. Siegfried too seems lazy about it since they keep all their money in a jar. Really?! In a jar?

Meanwhile, James visits Heston Grange Farm and meets Carol Drinkwater who returns as Helen Alderson. Helen made her first appearance in ‘Horse Sense’ when she met James coming off the bus.

From the first moment James meets her, he falls in love with Helen. This is the beginning of a beautiful romance story arc between James and Helen and is one of my favourites from the series.

Helen is clearly a friendly and very attractive young woman. Both she and James get on well with each other. They immediately share things with each other as they go walking up the hills in this tale.

James comes out to sort out a calf at Heston Grange Farm who has injured his leg. James soon gives the calf a plaster in order to heal his leg. Helen helps James before giving the calf back to his mother.

I liked that moment when James and Helen are crossing a river and they agree to call each other by their first names. It is the start of a beautiful friendship that will one day turn into something better.

Peter Davison gets to have his moments to shine as Tristan in the episode. Early on in the episode, Tristan is forced to look after a dog that comes out of his anesthetic. The dog howls a lot in surgery.

Tristan gets really annoyed about having to look after this howling dog, especially during the day. And if that wasn’t bad, Tristan has to look after the dog when Siegfried and James go for a meeting.

I thought it was cruel of Siegfried to make Tristan stay behind to look after the dog whilst it’s howling away. I don’t think Siegfried and James went for the meeting at all, as we never see it in the episode.

I found it hilarious when Tristan became drunk that evening looking after the still howling dog. Siegfried and James come in to see Tristan in his drunken state and he is clearly out of control here.

Peter Davison delivers a great performance in this as a drunken Tristan opposite Robert Hardy’s Siegfried. I believe Robert Hardy looked away from the camera to stop himself laughing at one point.

But the highpoint of this episode is of course Tricki-Woo and her owner Margaretta Scott as Mrs. Pumphrey. It has not been that long since we last saw Tricki-Woo and Miss Pumphrey for ‘Dog Days’.

Mrs. Pumphrey calls Uncle Herriot in to treat Tricki since he’s ‘desperately ill’. James decides to bring Tricki to Skeldale House so that he can provide him the ‘cure’. Mrs. Pumphrey is heartbroken by this.

But she reluctantly agrees to Uncle Herriot’s suggestion and Tricki-Woo goes off with James to spend some time with the other dogs at Skeldale House. This is of course to stop the big diet he’s been having.

It was funny when Mrs. Pumphrey kept phone-calling Uncle Herriot to check how Tricki-Woo is. Sometimes, it’s three or six times a day. James humours Mrs. Pumphrey when she is phone calling.

Teddy Turner makes an appearance as Hodgekin in this episode. I found it funny when James seemed to tease Hodgekin about Tricki-Woo’s condition but reassuring him he’ll have him back soon.

Hodgekin’s clearly not a fan of Tricki-Woo, since Mrs. Pumphrey pampers him a lot. I don’t blame him, although he could try to be more lenient for Mrs. Pumphrey’s eccentrics regarding Tricki-Woo.

It was amusing when Mrs. Pumphrey’s staff ceremoniously carry all of Tricki-Woo’s belongings to be put into James’ car. Graham Rowe guest stars as Francois, Mrs. Pumphrey’s head butler in this episode.

Eventually, once Tricki-Woo’s finished his spell at Skeldale House, he’s returned homed and is given a welcome home party by Mrs. Pumphrey and her staff. It’s a lot of trouble for one cute little dog. 😀

There’s one more plot thread to mention about this episode. James gets called up during one night to help out a horse that needs to be stitched up. Because it’s night, James goes out in his night attire.

Wow! It’s one thing to get up to go out and help a sick horse in the middle of the night. It’s another thing to not get dressed and go out in his pyjamas. James has got some guts regarding his job, hey?!

James gets joked about with the fact he’s in his night wear while attending to the sick horse, but he does retain his dignity. Perhaps that champagne he had from Mrs. Pumphrey all went to his head. 😀

After he’s done the horse job, James decides to call in on Helen at Heston Grange Farm on his way back. Err yeah, I would have gone back to home to put some clothes on and done it later in the day.

But nope! James seems to think it’s alright to do it early in the day. It’s rather inconvenient since Helen’s about to have breakfast at that time in the day. It’s funny love does things like that to you, isn’t it?

Helen however is nice about it when James comes to visit her and there’s always a chance for him to see her again in the next episode. I do wonder how James continues his love-sick feelings for Helen.

‘It Takes All Kinds’ is a good re-introduction to Helen and a good introduction to Miss Harbottle. I wonder how things turn out in the next episode. It was also superb to see Tricki-Woo in this episode.

‘It Takes All Kinds’ rating – 9/10

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2 thoughts on “‘It Takes All Kinds’ (TV)

  1. darrowby85

    I was wondering, when I watched this, whether the TV audience would have remembered seeing Helen a fortnight earlier at all, since she was only on screen for a short time and there was so much else going on in the episode, and several new characters to get to know in both that and Episode 2. These days we have much more of a tendency to watch a whole series through with less time between episodes so it is easy to remember what happened last time and you can check back if you’ve forgotten, but back then, the audience would have to wait a week between episodes, unless they were repeated mid-week or something.

    I was familiar with Lynda Bellingham as Helen from the later series, and I can’t remember whether I was aware, before I started watching the first episode, that the part was originally played by Carol Drinkwater. I suppose it wouldn’t really matter if the viewers didn’t remember Helen from Episode 1, since she is properly re-introduced here. I thought it was a good idea to introduce the main characters gradually, over three episodes, rather than trying to do it in a single episode. The format of the show is such that there are new one-off characters introduced in almost every episode, so it’s good that they spent plenty of time introducing the regulars and having some character-defining plot points for each of them. The action was rather frenetic in the first two episodes (I think the DVDs I have were cut from 1 hour to 50 minutes, which probably gives an even stronger sense of cramming a huge number of plot threads into a short time) so it was good that it slowed down and took its time a bit more here.

    It’s funny how James is mostly very sensible and then occasionally does something strange like going out in his pyjamas here. I think he was a little less serious in the books, if I remember rightly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Thanks for your comments, Vicky. Glad you enjoyed my review on this ‘All Creatures’ episode.

      I do wonder what it would be like to watch these episodes on TV as they were shown back then in the late 1970s. I suppose you would have to keep alert as to what’s going on with the regular characters back then, since you wouldn’t have watched these episodes in one go on DVD and you would have to wait a certain period of time e.g. a week to find out what’s going to happen in the next episode. That’s certainly the case for all BBC TV programmes back in the 60s/70s/80s with lack of VHS and DVD. It’s certainly the case for ‘All Creatures’ and ‘Doctor Who’ I guess.

      I suppose people wouldn’t have noticed Helen had changed in terms of actress from Carol Drinkwater to Lynda Bellingham. I’d notice because I’m watching this series on DVD and from a 21st century point of view. I prefer Carol Drinkwater over Lynda Bellingham as Helen since that’s who I grew up with whilst watching ‘All Creatures’ in my teens from the first three seasons. I’m certain I’ll enjoy Lynda Bellingham’s performance as Helen in the last four seasons of ‘All Creatures’, but I guess it’ll be where things get complicated for me.

      I just love it when James defiantly goes out in his pyjamas to work. He is normally sensible but I suppose that’s what I would do in order to show how stubborn I am in my work and to make people realise that I’m not a robot/computer as I’m sure farmers in those days would expect vets to be (even though there weren’t robots back then, unless you count vintage cars of course). I’m still waiting for ‘Vintage Cars Great and Small’ with Christopher Timothy and Peter Davison to be shown on TV. Don’t know when it’s going to come out.

      Thanks again for your comments, Vicky.

      Tim. 🙂



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