Some dramas give us angst, but All Creatures Great and Small gave us our dream wedding

James (Nicholas Ralph) and Helen (Rachel Shenton) enjoyed a markedly un-TV-like disaster-free wedding day - Helen Williams/Television Stills
James (Nicholas Ralph) and Helen (Rachel Shenton) enjoyed a markedly un-TV-like disaster-free wedding day - Helen Williams/Television Stills
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Broadcasters have been choosing their schedules with care over these past few days. But Channel 5 knows it has a programme that provides comfort to the nation: All Creatures Great and Small, back for a third series.

The focus of this episode was the wedding of Helen and James. Now, Helen has form in this area, having jilted her last fiance. And if this show were EastEnders or Coronation Street, the following exchanges would be alarming. Helen, the day before the wedding: “I’ll see you tomorrow.” James: “You can count on it.” And Helen to her father, as the hour of the ceremony approached: “I’m marrying James this afternoon. Nothing’s going to get in the way of that.”

In soap lands, these lines can only be portents of doom. Not in this show, where the writers know their audience. What we wanted was a happy, heartwarming wedding, set against the backdrop of the glorious Yorkshire Dales, and that’s what we got.

Not that things went entirely according to plan. This is TV, after all. So we had the well-worn devices of a dog eating the wedding rings, and the groom waking up in unfamiliar surroundings after a well-oiled stag do, then arriving at church at a sprint. And a plot that could only appear in this particular show: the groom and his best man spending the morning of the wedding testing a herd of cattle for TB.

This time it was James (Nicholas Ralph) who appeared to have cold feet, but he turned out to be preoccupied with the war — it is the spring of 1939 — and a nagging feeling that he should sign up, despite being member of a reserved occupation, after seeing farmer’s son Wilfred do just that. “His sense of duty will be the death of him one of these days,” Tristan said of James, and one wonders if the writers do plan to send James off to war at some point (Alf Wight, aka Herriot, did join the RAF in 1942 but returned safely).

The emphasis in the episode, though, was on happier stuff. James and Helen (Rachel Shenton) are a delightful couple. But where All Creatures Great and Small really excels is in mixing the heartfelt stuff with laughs. Both Callum Woodhouse as Tristan and Samuel West as Siegfried are deft comic actors, and the pair of them trying to squirm out of responsibility for losing the rings was a joy. As was Tricki Woo making a cameo appearance on his velvet cushion.