‘Tricks of the Trade’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

I greatly enjoyed this episode in the ‘All Creatures’ series. I did feel it lacked Helen since she was absent from the episode. But overall, this was a very enjoyable episode. It had me hooked from start to finish.

By the way, we’re now on the second half of Series 2 of ‘All Creatures’. There’s more episodes featured in the second half, especially since the last episode is the Christmas Special which we’ll get to later on.

‘Tricks of the Trade’ is adapted by Johnny Byrne from the ‘James Herriot’ books. Clearly Johnny Byrne understands character drama. This gets demonstrated in the well-written dialogue for our characters.

The episode is directed by…Kenneth Ives?! The actor who played Toba, one of the Dominators in the ‘Doctor Who’ story called ‘The Dominators’ with Patrick Troughton. I’m flabbergasted! Kenneth Ives!!!

I can just imagine Kenneth Ives directing this episode. He’ll have a bunch of Quarks directing actors to where they should be and when one actor fails on his lines, he’ll bellow out loud, “Quark, destroy!” 😀

The episode begins with James driving in the countryside before he finds a small black kitten lost out there on the moors. Poor little kitten! It’s not explained how that kitten ended on the side of the road.

James takes the kitten in his jacket to warm him up before he returns to his car. He then drives off to where Marjorie Sudell as Mrs. Butler’s farm is. He gives her the little kitten to which she takes care of.

Later on in the episode towards it end, James returns to Mrs. Butler’s farm to find the kitten is among the pigs and feeding from the mother. It is sweet, but that little kitten’s got to have identity issues. 😀

Like I said, Helen is absent in this episode. Apparently she’s away caring for a sick aunt. I’m not sure what the behind-the-scenes reason is. Thankfully Carol Drinkwater does return in the rest of Series 2.

Meanwhile, as James reads a letter from Helen over breakfast, Tristan tells him Siegfried is on the warpath. This is so demonstrated when Siegfried seems to be in a foul mood entering the living room.

James says “Good morning!” and Siegfried has a go at him over certain things regarding unpaid farmers’ bills. Yes. That’s what the issue is. Siegfried is angry over the fact that certain bills aren’t paid.

One particular farmer who hasn’t paid his bills is someone called Dennis Pratt. This is a farmer who has not settled his account for some time as he is always managed to get away with it not paying bills.

Siegfried is determined to get Dennis Pratt to pay his bills and during the episode, he comes up with some ‘cunning’ plan in order to do it. This is to take place when farmers visit Skeldale to pay their bills.

Anyway, whilst that goes, James and Tristan go over to visit Mr. Wilkinson’s farm, who’s not there by the way, in order to treat what Siegfried described as a ‘colt’. This turns out not to be the case though.

Wilkinson’s boy, played by Craig Brigg, happens to be there and it turns out the ‘colt’ is actually a rather large and very difficult stallion. James struggles to treat the stallion and is even afraid when they leave.

James doesn’t treat the stallion which annoys Siegfried who is still convinced it’s a colt. Why couldn’t have James and Tristan told Siegfried that it was a stallion not a colt and they would justify themselves.

But it is fine as Siegfried goes in James’ place when he and Tristan go off to visit Wilkinson’s farm again. Terry Cantor as Mr. Wilkinson is there this time as he observes what Siegfried does with this situation.

Thankfully Siegfried manages to deal with the large stallion, even though it means having it run out of its stable and out into the open. Not certain how Siegfried tames the stallion, but he does it eventually.

With James, he’s taking care of a dog belonging to Constance Chapman as Mrs. Barker. That dog of hers looks cute, innocent and sad-looking. I almost want to hug that dog and look after her myself. 😀

Anyway the dog called Diana requires surgery and James decides to take her to be attended to by another vet – Granville Bennet. This is someone who specialises in small animal care somewhere else.

James Grout guest stars as Granville Bennet in the episode. James Grout also voiced Barliman Butterbur in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ radio series. I think this is first time I’ve seen James Grout in the flesh.

Granville Bennet is a brilliant vet. No mistaking that. He gives Diana the dog some anaesthetic and it seems to be this complex and delicate operation. Even James observes the operation with fascination.

After the operation is finished and the dog recovers from the anaesthetic, Granville suggests that he and James go and have drink somewhere. James seems happy to. Thus the two go off to the local pub.

But as James discovers, Granville seems to love his drink a little too much. For one thing, Granville drinks one pint of beer (I think) in one go and James is still on his first. Then it becomes two and three.

I found it funny when James struggles to drink the three pints of beer he’s given and Granville encourages him to hurry it up, seeing him on the slow side and falling behind. I know how James feels.

They then go off to Granville Bennet’s house for a bite to eat. They also have a drink or two or three there. As well as having whiskey, James is also given pickle onions and gigantic sized bread sandwiches.

I’m sure Granville’s being generous and he seems a pretty good-hearted sort of man. But Grenville is pretty heavy on the food and drink and it becomes too much for James and he goes for worse of wear.

James also gets to meet Granville’s wife who turns out to be…Pamela Salem as Zoe Bennet. Wow! Pamela Salem! She was in one episode of the BBC sitcom, ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’, with Richard Briers.

And of course Pamela was in the ‘Doctor Who’ stories, ‘The Robots of Death’ and ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’. She also appears in the Big Finish spin-off audio series, ‘Counter-Measures’, as Rachel Jenson.

Zoe seems equally pleasant and generous as her husband is. Granville and Zoe offer James to stay with them for dinner. Thankfully James politely declines since he tells them he’s needed back in Darrowby.

Ah well. Maybe next time, they say. James eventually returns to Skeldale House in one piece and gives Diana the dog back to Mrs. Barker. Mrs. Barker is really pleased that her dog Diana has fully recovered.

It was very sweet when Mrs. Barker carried her dog Diana in a pram to take her back home. I’m sure the dog Diana was enjoying her ride out of the surgery. Seriously! It really is a sweet moment to watch.

Anyway, like I said, farmers come to Skeldale House to pay their bills to Siegfried and Tristan. It gets pretty crowded with so many farmers coming in to pay their bills whilst Siegfried and Tristan are there.

This is of course where we get to meet Ken Wynne as the infamous Dennis Pratt. Siegfrieds seems really approachable and friendly to Dennis Pratt, especially when he is trying to get him to pay his bills.

But as Siegfried finds out, it’s not as easy as it seems since Dennis Pratt seems so cunning in avoiding paying his bills. He gets Tristan to do it instead when he has to go out somewhere. Even that one fails.

By the time the episode ends, James learns from Siegfried and Tristan that none of them have been able to get the bills paid from Dennis Pratt. What’s worse is they’ve given him unpaid vet medication!

Surprisingly, Siegfried doesn’t blame Tristan for not being able to get payment out from Dennis Pratt since he knew it was hard task to achieve. It’s surprising that Siegfried didn’t shout and rant at Tristan.

James also feels bad about it since he assumed Dennis Pratt had paid his bills and given him vet medication himself without it being paid. Siegfried and Tristan laugh it off whilst they’re having dinner.

‘Tricks of the Trade’ has been pretty enjoyable to watch. It’s a shame Helen didn’t appear in this one, but I enjoyed it when James had a dog sorted by Granville Bennet, though it made him worse for wear. 😀

‘Tricks of the Trade’ rating – 9/10

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