‘Sleeping Partners’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

In this episode, James and Helen are married and are on their honeymoon. If only for a short period of time. I mean it gets glossed over quickly. I’m surprised they didn’t make this a honeymoon episode.

The episode was adapted by Johnny Byrne from the ‘James Herriot’ books and was directed by Terrence Dudley. Did I mention Johnny Byrne would go on to be ‘All Creatures’ script editor in the 80s?

The episode takes place directly after James and Helen are married and they’re on their way for their honeymoon. Actually the car breaks down on the way and James pushes it up on the road. Poor James.

Thankfully they arrive safely at a local inn and sleep overnight before they get interrupted by the landlady. They were hoping to have a lie in after pushing the car all the way up. Sadly that’s not to be.

The landlady happens to be Molly Weir as Mrs. Burns. She is actually a nice soul and a good Scottish lady looking after James and Helen. But it ruins James and Helen’s sleep when she knocks on the door.

In fact, after being delivered tea to their bedrooms that morning, James and Helen have a romantic interlude with each other for a moment. This gets interrupted when Mrs. Burns knocks the door again.

The second time she comes up she’s delivering breakfast to them. What, already?! James and Helen begin having breakfast together before another romantic interlude ensues. And they break one plate.

Yeah, might have been a good idea to the breakfast plate aside James before you start kissing Helen. You’re going to have to pay for that. But guess what happens? They’re interrupted again by Mrs. Burns.

Okay, how many times do James and Helen get interrupted when they’re having a romantic moment together? Three times! I think James should not have answered when Mrs. Burn kept coming upstairs.

Well at least James bolts the door after Mrs. Burns visits them a third time. Helen tells James to behave himself as he begins to un-strip before her. Yikes that must be ‘saucy’ stuff back on BBC TV in 1978. 😀

But of course James and Helen’s honeymoon isn’t all kisses and pleasures. James has to work as he comes to the Allen’s farm to do the tuberculin testing he said he would do for Siegfried since last time.

James and Helen meet Enid Irvin as Mrs. Allen, who’s concerned about the two spending their honeymoon doing the tuberculin testing. But James reassures Mrs. Allen that Helen’s here to help out.

I liked it, after Mrs. Allen goes out, when James and Helen have a romantic moment together before seeing Mr. Allen and his lads at the window watching. It must be so hard balancing work and pleasure.

Back at Skeldale House in Darrowby, Siegfried is in a bit of a stress and a mess as he tries to find things about the surgery. Tristan attempts to tell Siegfried that he has return to Edinburgh to take his exams.

Siegfried doesn’t listen at first before he comes back into the surgery. I like how Siegfried ignores Tristan when he walks out before coming back in and taking his brother’s news seriously about exams.

I think the business of Tristan retaking his exams has been hanging around in a few previous episodes but never touched upon. Siegfried decides to give Tristan some revision on his exams in order to help.

Tristan’s not to taken with the idea, but eventually relents since this is his brother of course. I like how Siegfried gives his revision to Tristan in the living room and Tristan struggles with Siegfried’s methods.

In retrospect, there are moments when Tristan sounds like the Fifth Doctor when he’s giving answers to Siegfried’s questions in the room. It might have something to do with Peter Davison’s performance.

It’s amusing when Siegfried gets frustrated with Tristan’s handling of the questions as well as being impatient. I’m sure Siegfried means well, but couldn’t he try to be more patient with his little brother?

Sometime later, not sure how long, James and Helen return from their honeymoon and are greeted by Siegfried and Tristan at Skeldale House. Yeah, I do feel James and Helen’s honeymoon went quickly.

I know, I know, these episodes are based on the original ‘James Herriot’ books and the production team are following what was in each chapter when translating it to TV. But the honeymoon does feel dealt with quickly.

Comparing it with other BBC drama shows like ‘Monarch of the Glen’, they took their time with fleshing out romantic character development. It especially would include a romantic holiday like such.

Now that’s not to say James and Helen’s romance doesn’t get explored a lot in the series. There are tender moments to look forward to later in the TV series. But it’s not a main focus as you would expect.

I like how James follows up on Siegfried’s generous wedding gift from the end of the previous episode in promoting him to be his partner. James is rather concerned whether Siegfried make the right choice.

The discussion between Siegfried and James on whether the right choice is made is well-handled. James gives reasons why he enjoys his work which makes Siegfried’s decision to promote him justified.

Eventually in the episode, James gets to meet a nearby vet, Andrew Crawford as Angus Grier. Grier has his own practice as well as a student working for him, Peter Duncan as Mr. Clinton…wait a minute!

I recognise that actor. Have I seen him somewhere before? Oh yes! Peter Duncan went on to be a ‘Blue Peter’ presenter in the early 1980s. Wow! How incredible to find him in this ‘All Creatures’ episode!

Isn’t it surprising that actors like Peter Purves and Janet Ellis who worked on TV shows like ‘Doctor Who’ as well as Peter Duncan in ‘All Creatures’ would go on to work in ‘Blue Peter’. Is this a recurring pattern?

Anyway, after attending a case at Grier’s surgery as well as a rambling old woman in the form of Lucy Griffiths as Mrs. Grier (the wife presumably), James gets invited to call on a cow. Such a bad idea here.

I like how Peter Duncan as Mr. Clinton tries to warn James behind Angus Grier’s back about going with him, but it doesn’t work. If only Clinton spoke out loud with a voice to warn James, it would’ve worked.

But anyway, James goes with Grier to this farm and…gets changed into a peculiar set of clothes. I’m not really sure what that suit of body armour is. In fact, I am going to call it that. A suit of body armour.

And the question I have to raise is…why?! Why would Angus Grier make James wear something as hard-fitting and uncomfortable as that? Especially when it has nothing to do with veterinary practice?

I’m not even joking. The reason why James is made to wear that body suit of armour is because…so that Angus Grier and his farmer buddies can make fun of him? Why?! James is trying to do a job here?!

The impression I get is that Angus Grier doesn’t like young vets and wants to make fools of them. The way he does it to make fun of them is so cruel and unjustified. That man seriously has got some issues.

The like the way James tries to be dignified in that body suit of armour especially finding it uncomfortable and hard to walk in. Even when he realises he is made fun of, he still remains dignified.

Angus Grier’s farmer buddies include…oh my goodness, Michael Sheard’s in this, as Mr. Adderley and John Pennington as Tolly. Michael Sheard has appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ stories including ‘Castrovalva’.

Eventually, Tristan goes off to take his final exams in Edinburgh. Don’t worry, he is coming back in the next episode. Whilst Tristan’s away though, Siegfried decides to hire a student to fill in for his brother.

This student happens to be Richard Carmody who is played by…wait just a minute! Is that Christopher Brown?! The one who played Marriner in the ‘Doctor Who’ story, ‘Enlightenment’, with Peter Davison?

Oh my goodness! This is ‘Doctor Who’ overload! I wondered who Tristan’s replacement was going to be and I was very gobsmacked when I saw this again. He even retains the ‘eternal’ persona about him.

Richard Carmody is a rather snotty sort of student who comes to help out at Skeldale House in Tristan’s absence. He even stays at the Reniston, the hotel that James and Helen went and had a date.

Carmody (sounds like ‘comedy’ sometimes) even wears galoshes instead of wellies when going out with James to visit a farm. Who does that? Carmody even makes notes in his notebook on these visits.

This is when he criticises James, in a polite manner I might add, when they’re back at Skeldale House in the surgery with Siegfried in the room. It seems like Mr. Carmody isn’t going to be fun to work with.

And I’m not even kidding, that’s how the episode ends. Yeah, Carmody leaves to have dinner at the Reniston, James and Siegfried wonder about him in the surgery and the end credits with music occurs.

That’s quite a way to end an episode, but ‘Sleeping Partners’ has been enjoyable to watch. I liked the romantic scenes between James and Helen in this episode. What will happen next with Mr. Carmody?

‘Sleeping Partners’ rating – 8/10

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