THE tales of a vet's life have entertained generations.
I remember poring over a wonderful thick tome packed with tales of owners and their animals based on the trials and tribulations of veterinary surgeon, James Alfred 'Alf' Wight.
Of course, many will identify the author of these entertaining tomes as James Herriot, the pen name Alf adopted for the stories which would eventually spawn the TV series 'All Creatures Great and Small.'
For those who have grown up with the best selling books and watched the series starring a well-known cast including Christopher Timothy and Peter Davison, then 'All Memories Great and Small' is the book for you.
Written by Oliver Crocker, the book includes a forward by Rosie Page, Alf Wight's daughter, who talks about 'a dedicated vet and a fantastic father' who loved his work, his dogs and the Yorkshire countryside.
According to Rosie, her father harboured an ambition to write a book - and finally turned that into a reality when, at 50, he began to 'write in earnest.'
Rosie enlightens readers about the beginning and gives a glimpse into what must have been an idyllic childhood.
The Herriot books are, as Rosie describes, 'true stories about real people, their animals and their way of life' and that is why they were, and remain, so endearing even to this day.
For Herriot fans, this book is an enjoyable trip down memory lane - with a few added extras giving an insight into the production of the episodes and series including call sheets used during filming.
There are also anecdotes from the cast including Christopher Timothy who played James Herriot. By the time he stepped into the role he had been an actor for 16 years. He recalls how he landed the part 'almost on a whim in the end because everything else had been sorted and everyone cast, except James. At the very last minute, Bill Sellars had a meeting with all the directors and explained he was ready to go in six weeks, but was still under pressure to cast a name to play James. And the director, Peter Moffatt - whom I'd never worked for, but knew - said "Well why don't you give it to Chris Timothy and make him a name?" The rest, they say, is history.....
Talking about being cast for the character of Tristan Farnon, Peter Davison, recalls a disastrous audition which saw him spill a cup of coffee all over himself. "They'd offered me one and I said that would be very nice, but then I ended up balancing one thing and another and then it was all down my leg and I remember thinking "This is just a disaster....." But he landed the part.
Contributions, among the 60 new interviews with cast and crew, also come from Robert Hardy and Carol Drinkwater as well as Paul Finch, son of the writer Brian Finch.
Interestingly, there are original synopses from the various series and episodes as well as credits, cast lists; details of the production team; transmission date, viewing figures and previously unpublished behind the scenes photographs.
Oliver has a pedigree in painstaking research having tracked down and interviewed surviving cast and crew for the DVD releases of Z Cars and Dixon of Dock Green.
His TV credits include BBC's Something for the Weekend and ITV's This Morning. He now works for a digital agency promoting movies.
'All Memories Great and Small' is his debut book, inspired by a visit to the World of James Herriot museum in 2015. The book was released as part of the 100th birthday celebrations for the real James Herriot, Alf Wight.
Published by Miwk, the book is available directly from Miwk, firstname.lastname@example.org priced at £14.99 or from all other booksellers for £17.99.