The adventures of James Herriot in his early years as a student vet at Glasgow Veterinary College can be seen on BBC One this Christmas in Young James Herriot.
Starring Iain de Caestecker (The Fades), Amy Manson (Outcasts), Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Miliband of Brothers), Gary Lewis (Billy Elliot) and Tony Curran (Doctor Who), the three-part series is inspired by the character and early works of James Herriot and was filmed in Glasgow this summer.
Sunday 18th December 2011, 9pm
It’s Thirties Glasgow and James Herriot, an idealistic young man, arrives to study at the city’s Vet College. He will go on to become Britain’s best-known and best-loved vet, but Herriot’s beginnings in the profession were not auspicious. This is the story of the making of the man, a story of a young man with hope in his heart, not much money in his pocket and the desire to do good.
His first day in Glasgow is miserable. He falls foul of his professors, he antagonises local tradesmen, and he is left homeless after his would-be landlady does a runner with his rent.
His luckless introduction to veterinary medicine provides some amusement for two older students. Whirly Tyson is one of only two women at the Vet College, while Rob McAloon is a playboy and perennial student. They see something in Herriot that others don’t and take him under their wing. He moves in with them and Whirly’s glamorous aunt, whose intentions towards Young James may not be as honourable as he would like.
James meanwhile acquires his first patient; an ailing dray horse that he spots being mistreated by a local haulier. James insists the horse needs rest, but the man needs the horse to work or he won’t be able to support his small son. With the boy facing the prospect of the poor house, young Herriot has to make some crucial decisions.
Monday 19th December 2011, 9pm
On his first field trip James finds himself in the middle of what he believes is a potentially deadly cattle epidemic that threatens a local farm. The farmer and his future son-in-law are split over what to do until James intervenes. When his youth and inexperience get the better of him he makes a diagnosis that could spell slaughter for the cattle and ruin for the farm. But is he sure he has made the right decision?
The smooth-talking McAloon meanwhile has a close encounter with a pampered sheep and quickly spots an opportunity to line his pockets at the expense of their anxious owners.
While James and McAloon are out in the field Whirly Tyson has been tricked into staying at the Vet College. This leads to another run-in with the sexist Professor Gunnell, but this time Whirly will have her revenge.
Tuesday 20th December 2011, 9pm
James struggles to balance politics and his career when he meets Jenny’s parents, Lord and Lady Muirhead. As if being totally captivated by their daughter isn’t enough, he is also instantly smitten by their dog, Freda, a beautiful Gordon setter.
There are introductions all round as Mrs Munro’s charismatic friend and sometime lover Oskar, a Jewish artist, arrives for a visit. While James is instantly drawn to Oskar’s warmth and party spirit, Jenny recoils from the meeting and leaves abruptly, much to James’s confusion.
All becomes clearer when the Muirheads invite Gunnell and Ritchie to a special gathering and their Fascist sympathies are revealed, leaving Professor Richie concerned for James’s future. Matters come to a head when Freda falls ill and the Muirheads’ politics interfere with her treatment.
Whirly meanwhile faces her tribunal hearing after her revenge on Gunnell and James inadvertently makes life very difficult for her with some unguarded comments. He is facing problems of his own with final exams looming and with the drama surrounding the Muirheads there’s a real chance that his first year at vet school could be his last.
Are you looking forward to Young Herriot? Let us know below…