All Creatures Great and Small: Meet the real-life people who inspired the characters

All Creatures Great and Small: Season 2's happy ending

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All Creatures Great and Small has been airing on Channel 5 and the uplifting drama was full of emotional moments. Families have made Skeldale House their own personal retreat as they escape the realities of the 21st century. Some of the characters were inspired by people the real James Herriot lived and worked with.

Donald Sinclair – Seigfried Farnon

Skeldale House boss Seigfried Farnon is loved for his quirky and outspoken nature.

The boss of James Herriot is in fact based on his real-life superior, Donald Sinclair.

The veterinary surgeon brought the practice in 1939 and the following year, he hired Alf Wight to take over.

Eccentric Donald was busy carrying out his service with the Royal Air Force.

Alf Wight’s son Jim reminisced over Donald in the new book titled The World of All Creatures Great and Small.

He said: “A true character simply because he did not think he was. Donald had certain rules to be followed by young assistants.

“Although very outdated, there is still a grain of truth in them today.

“Donald’s eccentricities meant that he was a very difficult man to work with.”

Donald was married to his wife Audrey and they had a daughter and son together. He took his own life two weeks after his wife of 53 years died.

Brian Sinclair – Tristan Farnon

Wallace Brian Vaughan Sinclair inspired the character now played by Callum Woodhouse in the series.

He did indeed work for a time with his older brother Donald and Alf Wight at the practice.

He worked for Donald while studying veterinary medicine until he graduated from college in 1943.

The vet then joined the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in India.

Back in 2017, Jim Wright spoke about the accuracy of Tristan.

He told Jonathon Van Maren: “Brian was accurately portrayed. A young man who was a delightful young fellow, but his whole aim in life was to work as little as possible and have as good a time as possible.

“Every time [Brian] failed his exams, which he did often when he was at veterinary school, Donald [Sinclair] had to pay and Donald didn’t have money in those days … So there was always that love-hate relationship between the two [brothers], very well portrayed in that first book.”

Joan Catherine Anderson Danbury – Helen Alderson

Alf Wight married Joan in 1941 and the couple had two children – Jim and Rosie.

Joan moved back to live with her parents while her husband served in the Royal Air Force.

She was Alf’s biggest fan and she supported him in everything he did, including his writing.

Joan inspired Helen Alderson, who is played by Rachel Shenton in the current series.

Shenton learned a lot about Joan by speaking to her children, Jim and Rosie.

Anna Madeley has been cast as Mrs Hall, the housekeeper at Skeldale in the Channel 5 series.

She only plays a minor role in James Herriot’s books, but the actress has brought her to life on the small screen.

Alf Wight’s son Jim praised the actress for transforming the character into a major player in the show.

Over the course of the two seasons, she has become a force to be reckoned with and is a fan-favourite character.

Viewers are hoping she forms a relationship with Seigfried further down the line.

James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph), of course, is based on the real Yorkshire Vet, Alf Wight.

Wight used the pen name James Herriot to write memoirs detailing his working life in the Dales.

His son, Jim, wrote about his father in the new book titled The World of All Creatures Great and Small.

He said: “As a young man setting out on his career, I realised that he displayed two qualities essential for success in any chosen field.

“Determination and self-belief. He would not give up, despite the disappointing rejections and he genuinely believed that his little book was worthy of publication.”

All Creatures Great and Small is airing on My5 and Acorn TV, and will be released on DVD on November 29.

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