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C5, PBS bring All Creatures to life

The BBC’s version of All Creatures Great & Small

Viacom-owned UK network Channel 5 has commissioned a new adaptation of author James Herriot’s All Creatures Great & Small, to be coproduced with PBS in the US.

Wolf Hall producer Playground Entertainment will make an initial series of six episodes plus a Christmas special. US pubcaster PBS’s Masterpiece strand will coproduce, with All3Media International distributing and the production receiving funding and support from Screen Yorkshire.

The project, C5’s most significant drama commission since it returned to the genre, is one of several scripted programmes in development, according to the UK broadcaster.

All Creatures Great & Small will shoot on location in Yorkshire, England. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the original publication of veterinary surgeon and writer Herriot’s much-loved books, which were previously adapted by the BBC as a comedy drama series that ran between 1978 and 1990.

C5 is also home to the factual series The Yorkshire Vet, which is set in Herriot’s original veterinary practice.

With the commissions of Cold Call and 15 Days, plus a number of other scripted series in development, the announcement marks the next development in the drama strategy initiated by C5 director of programmes Ben Frow last year.

The production, commissioned by digital channel controller Seb Cardwell, will be produced by Richard Burrell (New Tricks, Silent Witness).

The executive producers are Colin Callender and Melissa Gallant for Playground, Hugo Heppell for Screen Yorkshire and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece on PBS.

Ben Vanstone (The Last Kingdom) is lead writer and executive producer and Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) is the lead director.

Since their first publication in 1970, the books of James Alfred Wight, published under the pen name James Herriot, have held a special place in people’s hearts throughout the world, C5 said.

Chronicling the heartwarming and humorous adventures of a young country vet, the books introduced readers to his unconventional mentor and the cast of farmers and townsfolk who lived and worked in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s.

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