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Monday, September 3, 2012

James Herriot’s TV House: Part 1

"Excuse me!" Siegfried cries, as he bustles past you in the hall,
hangs up his coat and hat, and then bursts into the living room.

For this blog, I’ve stepped back in time to revisit The World of James Herriot in Thirsk.  The museum, housed in the building where the real James Herriot (Alf Wight) lived and worked, also contains a mock up of studio sets that were used in the TV show “All Creatures Great and Small.  I covered some of these real-life aspects in “Skeldale House is Not the Tardis,” and my three-part series, “The Mistress of Skeldale House.”  In this blog, I’ll cover the studio portion of the museum, because it has its own special magic.  Then, in Part 2, I’ll cover the house in Askrigg that we saw in the TV show.  Enjoy!

"Mrs. Hall, we're ready to eat!" Siegfried bellows,
picking up his knife and fork.

In our heads, we all know that the rooms we see on the TV show “All Creatures Great and Small” are merely studio sets.  But in our hearts, they feel real, each room part of a house that we would love to live in.  We imagine visiting Helen and James in their living room, or sharing a meal with them at their large dining table.  We hear Mrs. Hall working in her kitchen, just down the hall.  Perhaps we even imagine staying with them a few days, and using one of the second or third-story bedrooms.  While Skeldale House may not be the Tardis, on TV it seems more than large enough to suit any need.  Sigfried even keeps rooms locked up, so that Mrs. Hall won’t feel compelled to clean them.

"Ah James, there you are." Siegfried sees
James sitting on the chair, reading a book.
"Have you discovered what's wrong
with Mrs. Dalby's cows yet?"

While giving us a taste of the magic of filmmaking, these Fictional spaces sooth the visitor’s longing to visit Skeldale House as it appears on screen.  One can touch the table, sit on the chairs, remember a favorite scene, and even imagine James Herriot reading a book as Siegfried Farnon swans in, hangs up his hat, and pours James a drink. 

Before you leave, the telephone rings.  When you pick it up, a farmer tells you that he needs your expertise with one of his sick animals.  So you pack up all the medicine you think you’ll need, and then you head outside, to hop into your Austin 7, and drive out to the farm.

"Good news, Mrs. Dalby.
I know what's wrong with your cows!" 

I hope this glimpse into James Herriot’s TV House sated some of your longing to visit the Skeldale House you came to love on “All Creatures Great and Small.”  It’s a place you couldn’t really live, but it’s definitely worth a visit.

Hanging out with James Herriot,
Dragon Dave

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