HIT television drama All Creatures Great and Small, which was partly filmed in Skipton with local cast members, is to have a second series and a Christmas special.

The new adaptation of country vet James Herriot's beloved stories has been the highest rating show for Channel 5 since 2016.

Made by BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning production company Playground, the first series began during this year's Covid pandemic and was hailed by critics as heartwarming escapism.

Set among a colourful ensemble of farmers, animals and townsfolk living in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s, the show stars Nicholas Ralph as James Herriot and Samuel West as his unconventional mentor, Siegfried Farnon. The late Dame Diana Rigg, who died in September, played Mrs Pumphrey, the wealthy owner of pampered pooch Tricki Woo.

Also in the first series was Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis, of Horsforth, as landowner Hugh Hulton, and youngsters from Bradford's Articulate theatre school.

All Creatures Great and Small consolidated at 4.7 million viewers, with an additional one million watching the Sunday repeat, making it Channel 5’s highest rating launch for a drama commission ever. It has been a global hit, with screenings in America, Asia and across Europe.

Now the channel has announced that the popular show will be back with a further six episodes, as well as a Christmas special. It will return to shoot on location in the Dales next year, with funding and support from Screen Yorkshire.

Sebastian Cardwell, Channel 5 Deputy Director of Programmes, said: “In challenging times, this new adaptation gained a special place in the heart of the British public. With values of community spirit, solidarity and heart-felt compassion, these stories are important ones for us to tell, now more than ever. I’m delighted that we will be seeing more of James and his Darrowby family when they return to our screens soon.”

Executive Producer Caroline Cooper Charles, Head of Creative at Screen Yorkshire, said: “In an uncertain world, the warmth and charm of All Creatures Great and Small and its delicious cast of characters is comfort food for the soul. Screen Yorkshire is delighted to have invested in both series and can’t wait to welcome the production team back to Yorkshire for more fantastic and uplifting stories from Darrowby.”

With filming locations including Skipton, Bolton Abbey and Grassington, the show boosted tourism interest in the Dales. Traffic to Welcome to Yorkshire's website, yorkshire.com, rose by 90per cent in September, compared to the same period last year.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive James Mason said: “The power of TV and film shot in the county and its impact on audiences across the globe is colossal. Visitor numbers to Yorkshire increased rapidly pre-COVID-19, following the success of hit productions such as Gentleman Jack, Victoria and Downton Abbey. All Creatures Great and Small captures a positivity and a love of the awe-inspiring outdoors, which is welcome now more than ever.

Alf Wight wrote the James Herriot stories based on his adventures as a young country vet. His son Jim Wight said the series has "an immensely enjoyable adaptation of Dad’s books"..."absolutely true to the ‘Herriot ethos’.”