‘The Beauty of the Beast’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

This ‘All Creatures’ episode deals with two storylines that occur one after the other and not simultaneously as you would expect. There also isn’t so much of Tristan featured in this TV episode.

‘The Beauty of the Beast’ was adapted by Johnny Byrne from the ‘James Herriot’ books and was also directed by Peter Moffat. I can always rely on the two to deliver high quality drama in ‘All Creatures’.

The episode begins with Siegfried visiting a nasty and demanding client, George Little as Walt Barnett. That’s not George Little from ‘Stuart Little’ by the way. I wondered if it was the same too. 😀

Walt Barnett goes out of his way to be unpleasant, especially to his animals when he mistreats them. This is clearly evident when Siegfried inspects one of the horses that seems to have had a thrashing.

Siegfried knows this already and makes the accusation that Walt Barnett mistreated the horse, to which Mr. Barnett denies. Siegfried’s concern is for the horse and not for the money he’s being paid.

But that first scene with Mr. Barnett is only the beginning of that subplot as we move immediately into the next subplot about a horse that sadly dies in the episode. Even I found it very heartbreaking.

It begins when James is called out to visit Jack Gilling’s farm to see about one of the horses. Helen asks James if she can come along with him as she spent a great deal of time at Gilling’s farm as a girl.

It was nice to see and learn another side to Helen’s character where we find out what life was like when she was a little girl. It was also good to see Helen join James visiting another farm for a change.

As James and Helen visit the farm, it seems there’s a decline in the use of farm horses to which Helen is saddened by. This is so unusual considering surely horses still get used at farms these days.

Maybe I’m wrong in this area, but I’m sure horses are still being used to farm agricultural land today. Perhaps there is something with Jack Gilling’s farm where horses are being used for less farm work.

Anyway, James and Helen meet Donald Nithsdale as Jack Gilling the farmer upon arrival. They also meet Tony Sympson as Cliff Tyreman, who’s an old white bearded man that’s been looking after horses all his life.

My Mum initially thought Cliff looked like that white bearded man from ‘Only Fools and Horses’. It isn’t him of course but I can see what Mum is getting at as the two look pretty similar in appearance.

Helen is well-known to Jack Gilling and Cliff Tyreman and it’s a happy reunion between them. Helen gets to see one of the farm horses that’s still about the farm. It happens to be Badger, a white horse.

For one moment, I thought Badger was ‘The Moon Stallion’. 😀 Joking aside, I thought it was extraordinary very few horses still remain in Jack Gilling’s farm for Helen to see and be saddened by.

Cliff Tyreman also seems to have this extraordinary connection to horses when he talks to them and tries to call them down. This is especially when James is attempting to treat a horse and stitch it up.

The horse kicks James rather violently and Cliff in his experience of using horses gets to calm it down. It was amusing and fascinating to see how Cliff calms the horse down to let James do his job.

Unfortunately though, this happy story soon turns into a sad one as Badger, the white horse, starts to fall ill. James visits the farm again to learn what is wrong with Badger with Cliff walking the horse.

James doesn’t see it at first, but when he does see what’s wrong with Badger, it becomes very serious. He tells Cliff about Badger’s illness and is determined to find a way to rescue the horse’s life.

Despite this, James knows that Badger’s illness is terminal and cannot be saved. He works day and night to find ways of getting Badger better. But all the attempts to save Badger grow steadily worse.

Helen knows that James’ been doing his best to save poor Badger. But even she knows that despite James’ efforts, it seems impossible for Badger to be saved and there is no possible antidote for him.

Eventually, Jack Gilling comes round to see James in person and asks him to put poor Badger ‘to sleep’ which has been a difficult decision to make. James reluctantly agrees to putting Badger down.

As James is about to go and see to Badger, Helen asks to go with him. James isn’t sure about it at first, but eventually agrees as he clearly sees how much Badger meant a lot to Helen as a young girl.

James and Helen see Cliff with Badger on the green field at Gilling’s farm. Badger is lying on the ground shaking. Watching it again made me realise how really sad and heartbreaking this scene was.

There’s a final farewell from Cliff to Badger just before James is about to give the poor horse the shot. The farewell does seem long-winded but it was needed to establish how Cliff loved his horses.

Helen walks away whilst Cliff is saying his farewell to Badger and very soon James gives the shot to the horse. Hearing the shot to establish Badger’s death was very horrible and gut-wrenching to see.

It goes to show despite the miracles James can come up with to save animals, he can’t always be a miracle maker. It’s pretty poignant. It made me hope James can save another animal’s life next time.

Siegfried of course tries to reassure James that he did his best, but James isn’t convinced. By the way, we don’t have any more scenes featuring Helen for the rest of the episode as this subplot ends.

We return to the subplot where Walt Barnett returns and visits the surgery at Skeldale House. Walt Barnett is pretty mean when he knocks over a boy’s goldfish that’s just been attended to by James.

He’s also very disrespectful when James politely asks Barnett to put out his cigarette and stop smoking. At this, Barnett throws his ciggy onto the floor and stamps it out for James to sweep it up.

Barnett soon comes to the point and demands to have his horse gelded. James seems to be booked up and promises Barnett that Siegfried will attend to his horse, to which Barnett is really unpleasant.

After Barnett leaves, James goes into a foul temper to which Tristan and Siegfried enter and see him this way. Siegfried seems shocked that James’ in his foul temper over Barnett’s unpleasant attitude.

Siegfried gives James some tips on how to be more pleasant, saying ‘the customer is always right’ and such. Thus we have another occurrence where Siegfried can be pretty inconsistent in character.

A few days later, when Barnett phones up to ask for his horse to be gelded to which was promised, James reminds Siegfried of the promise. Again Siegfried doesn’t recall the promise being made at all.

When he’s on the phone to Barnett, Siegfried is calm at first before he starts losing temper. I found it really funny when he lets his temper out in the room and James and Tristan are teasing him about it.

But eventually, Siegfried has the perfect plan to get the better of Walt Barnett. When he and James go to visit Barnett at his place, they attend to the horse and conduct a necessary medical operation.

Afterwards, Siegfried gives the payment to Barnett and it turns out to be pretty pricey in those days. Barnett is aghast and outraged, but Siegfried keeps a straight face and insists on the payment made.

Barnett reluctantly writes out the cheque and gives it to Siegfried to which he takes. Siegfried and James then make to get away as quickly as possible before they go off to the local pub to celebrate.

I found that last scene of the episode so funny when it seemed that Siegfried may have lost the cheque and he asks James to go back to Barnett’s to get another one from him. So mean, Siegfried!!!

James at first refuses and tells Siegfried that it’s the cruellest thing he’s asked him to do. Siegfried seems shocked that James is refusing, before James soon agrees in protest as he’s going back there.

But of course it all turns out to be a prank on Siegfried’s part as he still has the cheque on him. To see the look on James’ face when he’s been outfoxed by Siegfried is wonderful and hilarious to see.

‘The Beauty of the Beast’ is a good episode from ‘All Creatures’. It’s not so complex as previous episodes with the two plots running one after the other. But both plots kept me gripped throughout.

‘The Beauty of the Beast’ rating – 8/10

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