Channel 5, production company Playground (Howards End, Wolf Hall) and Masterpiece on PBS have announced casting of the drama All Creatures Great and Small as it gears up for its fourth series, produced in association with All3Media International as the global partner.

Based on the collection of stories by author James Herriot, the adaptation returns to the Yorkshire Dales for a fourth season, picking up in 1940 as Churchill takes office and Europe is under serious threat. The six new episodes (6 x 60”), plus a Christmas Special, will air on Channel 5 in the autumn. In the US, Masterpiece on PBS will air season four early in 2024.

Series four sees Nicholas Ralph (Prey for the Devil, The Most Reluctant Convert) reprise his role as young country vet James Herriot, now happily married to Helen Herriot, played by Rachel Shenton (White Gold, For Her Sins). Samuel West (Slow Horses, Small Axe) returns as James’ capricious and erratic mentor Siegfried Farnon while Anna Madeley (Time, Patrick Melrose) continues as Mrs Hall, matriarch of Skeldale House. Patricia Hodge (Miranda, A Very English Scandal) also reprises her role as the wonderfully eccentric Mrs Pumphrey, alongside her adored pampered Pekingese Tricki.

With Tristan away serving in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, Siegfried and James bring in some extra hands to help around the practice. Neve McIntosh (Shetland) joins the cast as highly efficient bookkeeper Miss Harbottle, alongside James Anthony-Rose (Slow Horses, Pennyworth) as studious undergraduate vet student Richard Carmody who arrives at Skeldale as part of his placement under the guidance of James.

Returning for a fourth series is executive producer Ben Vanstone (A Gentleman in Moscow, The Last Kingdom) who will write the Christmas special. Writer Jamie Crichton (Three Pines, Grantchester) also returns, this time as lead writer and executive producer. Joining them for series four are writers Maxine Alderton (Emmerdale Farm, Doctor Who) and Helen Raynor (A Discovery of Witches, Call the Midwife).

Andy Hay (The Last Kingdom, Jamestown) is lead director and will direct episodes 1 and 2. Stewart Svaasand (Tin Star, Death in Paradise) will direct episodes 3, 4 and 6, while Jordan Hogg (Ralph and Katie, Screw) will direct episode 5 and the Christmas Special.

Series three aired in 2023,  averaging a huge 3.8 million viewers, and an 18% share, making Channel 5 the most popular terrestrial channel during that slot while All Creatures Great and Small was on air.

Colin Callender, executive producer and ceo of Playground said: “We are thrilled to be back in the glorious Yorkshire Dales for a fourth season of family, community and, of course, animal hijinks. Our wonderful cast and crew are all delighted to be returning to adapt more of James Herriot’s joyful and life-affirming stories.”

Paul Testar, commissioning editor, Drama, Channel 5 and Paramount+ said: “All Creatures Great and Small is one of the highlights of our year and we are eager to return to the glorious Yorkshire Dales this autumn. We can’t wait to welcome some new additions to our stellar cast for series 4.”.

Susanne Simpson, executive producer for Masterpiece added: “I can’t wait for our Masterpiece audience to see this new season of All Creatures Great and Small. It continues to be full of the warmth and humor that has made it one of our most successful series ever.” Masterpiece is presented on PBS by GBH Boston.

Louise Pedersen, ceo of All3Media International, commented: “Over three seasons All Creatures Great and Small has offered heartwarming, escapist viewing that has connected with audiences and become a firm fan favourite all around the world, and as Playground’s wonderful series enters its fourth season I am delighted to continue to build the brand globally.”

All Creatures Great and Small is a Playground production for Channel 5 and Masterpiece in association with All3Media International. Series four was commissioned by Deputy Director of Programmes, Paramount, Seb Cardwell, alongside Paul Testar, Commissioning Editor, Drama, Channel 5 and Paramount+; Executive Producers are: Colin Callender, Melissa Gallant, Jamie Crichton and Ben Vanstone for Playground, Susanne Simpson and Rebecca Eaton for MASTERPIECE, and Louise Pedersen and David Swetman for All3Media International.

Series four is currently filming on location in Yorkshire.

Pippa Considine

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