Life,  Reading

Why “All Creatures Great and Small” Provides the Perfect Escapism from Modern Stress Through its Rural Setting and Whimsical Tone

The sixth episode of the fourth season of the British drama “All Creatures” has ended, and everyone is looking forward to Christmas coming soon and watching the Christmas special. The show has averaged over 3.6 million viewers per episode in the UK. The continued high ratings please executive producer Colin Callender, because “by today’s standards of television production, “All Creatures” is not a big production, and its success shows that we You don’t need to spend huge sums of money to compete in the international market .”

“All Creatures” is a simple drama. The plot develops calmly, and each character’s emotions are very stable. The worst behavior is just to worry about the health of the animals. This allows contradictions and conflicts to be resolved in a timely manner as soon as they arise: Heriot Suspecting a violent and rebellious poor child of abusing his dog, he brought staff from the government animal welfare department to his door to take away the dog. When he found out that the child was saving his own food to feed to the dog, he immediately reflected on himself and gave it to the dog for free. To treat a disease, the child is simply asked to clean the animal cages in the clinic.
Mrs. Hall, the housekeeper of the veterinary ideal husband for remarriage and was happy. Her life was just around the corner, but she saw that the clinic was in a mess because of her departure, so she chose to stay; Herriot was about to enlist in the army, and the small conflicts between him and his wife were easily resolved through Mrs. Pumphrey’s guidance; the new arrival at the clinic The trainee veterinarian asked: Do you always treat animals as humans? Madam Pomfrey, who brought her puppy to see a doctor, was surprised when she heard this. She and the veterinarian Heriot looked at each other in confusion. Neither of them answered the question that challenged their values. The subtext was “Does this need to be said? ”

American drama critic Alan Sepinwall wrote in Rolling Stone magazine, “In a world where we live now, in a world where the default setting for television is often dark noirs and complex mysteries,” The empathy and simplicity evoked by “All Creatures” make people feel that it is truly radical.” He made this comment on January 11, 2021. Five days ago, violent riots occurred in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and the first season of “All Creatures” premiered in the United States on the 10th. Sepinwall lamented: ” Suddenly , nothing makes me want to watch it more than this tender drama with a low-stakes plot, lush scenery, adorable animals, and a bunch of good-natured people…it’s incredible Solace, a welcome contrast to the reality of a burning dumpster. ”

The psychology of watching dramas analyzed by Sepinwall also applies to the end of 2023. Actor Samuel West, who plays veterinarian Sigfried Farnan in the play, believes that people need TV series that are gentle and decent, reflect friendship and mutual help, and work together to overcome difficulties in life and reduce the pain of life. As for the kind of plot about innocent people suffering physical and emotional trauma one after another, no matter how wonderful the story is, how persevering the characters are, and even if the reviews call it great, no one wants to watch it.
The scenery in the play is the most eye-catching

One of the focal points of the audience’s fondness and discussion about All Creatures is the scenery of the Yorkshire Dales where the TV series was filmed. The scenery is very dramatic. In the original novel, James Herriot, a young man who has just graduated from veterinary school, comes to the Yorkshire Dales for the first time from the large industrial city of Glasgow. When the bus he takes climbs to a high place with difficulty, he Can’t help but be surprised. “The vague distant mountains have turned into tall grassy hills and wide valleys. At the bottom of the valley, the river meanders through the green trees, and solid gray stone farmhouses are scattered among the disconnected areas. Between the cultivated fields, the cultivated land stretches upwards along the slopes and into the green headlands, blending in with the lush heather plants undulating down from the mountains.”

Beautiful scenery is a great remedy for tired bodies and souls, so it “seems a bit unreasonable” to be paid to work in such nature, Herriot would say. The British countryside does not have the majestic and insignificant geographical features of Niagara Falls, the Matterhorn, the Sahara Desert, and the Greenland glaciers. Instead, it is a soothing and lazy lowland idyll that you can blend into at any time. Britain is a small place, but there are significant geographical differences within relatively short distances. The only constant is the endless green of the countryside.
In the presented in the TV series, the green valleys rise and fall, outlining simple but beautiful lines, such as neighborhood relationships, love and friendship, and the good values ​​​​upheld by everyone in the TV series, which are enough to relieve the pressure that the audience endures in real life. and nervousness. In 1954, most of the Yorkshire Dales was designated a national park and is one of the most popular destinations for rural tourism in England.

Even the low dry stone walls in the valley have a stress-reducing effect. There are more than 8,000 kilometers of dry stone walls in the Yorkshire Dales, crisscrossing them, dividing fields and pastures into irregular grids, connecting starting trails, villages and churches, mansions, and gardens. It is one of the oldest man-made landscapes in the Yorkshire Dales. One, is also an iconic landscape element.

Yorkshire is located in the north of England and has historically been relatively poor, so farmers used the most common and cheapest local stone to build walls. In the wealthy lowland agricultural areas of southern England, farmers used expensive hedges or plaster walls. Yorkshire’s agricultural tradition has continued for a thousand years, with dry stone walls built to mark field boundaries or land ownership and to prevent sheep and cattle from wandering. The existing dry stone walls were first built in the 13th century to prevent wolves from killing livestock, and some date back to the days of the Knights Templar. As land boundaries and individual farmers’ property ownership changed, and aristocratic domains were added and subtracted, the dry stone walls of the York Dales curved into the natural landscape, while the modern British agricultural system that emerged in the 19th century was shaped in the fields of other regions. The lines are straight lines and the two form a sharp contrast.

These historical traditions have left rural Yorkshire society little changed, especially with the dry stone walls surrounding the Yorkshire Dales into a time capsule for country lovers. Britain’s oldest horse racing meeting, still held annually in the Kiplingcotes valley, dates back to the early 16th century, the same age as the many dry stone walls surrounding the racecourse. Many ancient rural recreational activities, such as shooting, hunting, and dancing around the maypole, have continued uninterrupted since the 18th and 19th centuries. The farmhouse looked the way it did when it was first built, and it still looks the same now. Walking into a local pub at night, the atmosphere seems to have remained the same. In “All Creatures”, the veterinarian Tristan seeks payment from the farmers. Heliot, who has just arrived, is accepted by the locals. The old tavern in the village is an ideal venue. The bubbling beer still has the flavor of hundreds of years ago, giving people a gentle and warm feeling. A timeless feeling.

Someone joins the Yorkshire Drystone Guild, a charity, hoping to find Herriot’s comfort working in the countryside. Dry stone walls are so named because no mortar is used to build the walls, but rather the arrangement and quantity of stones to hold them together. Ordinary walls develop cracks as the mortar ages and become increasingly brittle; dry stone walls strengthen over time due to the gravitational pull of the stones on each other, causing the stones to lock together more and more tightly. A well-built dry stone wall can stand solidly for a century, or even longer. Over time, plants grew in the gaps in the stone walls, providing food and shelter for insects, birds and small animals, forming an ecological chain and becoming part of the local ecosystem.
The Yorkshire Dry Stone Wall Guild organized professional craftsmen to provide professional technical training to 200 members. For example, the most skilled craftsmen could not build a wall longer than 6 meters every day, but this required 12 tons of stones. Each stone had to be picked up by hand. You can imagine the intensity of labor. An experienced craftsman never picks up a stone twice, but looks at a pile of stones and picks out the right size and shape every time. The physical nature of the work is one of the reasons that attracts members to build stones.

Member Pete Maynard was a lawyer who quit his job 10 years ago to become a bricklayer. He told “Yorkshire Life” magazine that the work on the wall was hard and the pay was not high, but he had an “office” with no ringing phones. One morning, “the sun shone on five vultures, and they all stood together.” Soaring into the sky and flying over the beautiful valley, it’s so wonderful!” This is Heliot’s sense of relief: “The confinement of the city, the dirt and smoke seem to be far away from me.”

There are several drystone walling guilds in the UK, with membership increasing every year, and rural-themed TV dramas have helped fuel the trend. The Yorkshire Dry Stone Wall Guild has a small number of members, while the British Dry Stone Wall Guild, headquartered in Cumbria, has more than 1,000 members.

Go to the countryside to escape

In the last episode of the fourth season of “All Creatures”, Heriot enlisted in the army and went to the front line. His wife Helen was about to give birth to their first child. Mrs. Hall stayed behind to support the veterinary clinic with Mr. Farnan. She asked Heriot Little promised that she would be with Helen and the baby. There are already details in the TV series about food shortages and rationing of daily necessities.

This seems to be a portrayal of the current life of ordinary people in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics, the annual inflation rate reached 11.1% in October 2022, a 41-year high, and then declined, to 6.7% in September 2023, but it is still higher than most comparable economies, such as France (5.7%), Italy (5.6%), Germany (4.3%), the Eurozone average (4.3%) and the United States (2.6%). The UK is a large net importer of goods, including energy, and disruptions to supply chains caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and soaring energy and fuel prices caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict have contributed to sharp increases in the cost of living for households.

Among them, food prices increased by 28.4% in the two years from September 2021 to September 2023 alone. Previously, it took more than 13 years, from April 2008 to September 2021, for food prices to rise by the same amount. A survey in late October said that 52% of adults said the cost of living had increased compared to the previous month.

The young uncle Jeeves in “The Butler” said, “Generally speaking, I have no interest in flowers, birds, trees and nature, but London in August is indeed not at its best. I always feel bored and pondering. Why don’t you go to the countryside for a while and come back when you have some hope?” This series of novels was published in 1923. Over the past 100 years, when encountering difficulties, “go to the countryside for refuge” and seek solace in the countryside has become a common practice among British people. ideas and lifestyles.
“England is the countryside, and the countryside is England.” This is the famous saying of Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), a rural romantic and former British Prime Minister. British people generally believe that the soul of Britain lies in the countryside, and England’s traditional values ​​are also rooted in rural life. The masters of the countryside, farmers, are described in “All Creatures” like this: “‘Come in and have a simple meal,’ I hear this sentence almost every day. Sometimes I gladly accept it and have a memorable meal with them . They often stuffed six or seven eggs or a pound of butter into the car when I left. … I gradually began to understand the farmers, and what I learned made me like them. They are hard-working, optimistic and sensible, which is what I It’s something we’ve never seen before. There are misfortunes that would make city people bang their heads against the wall, but farmers just say, ‘Oh, these things happen,’ and shrug their shoulders.”

Relationships in the countryside and the city are mirror images of each other. Writer Rob Penn was born in 1967. After living in London for 10 years, he moved to the Welsh countryside and has lived in Wales for nearly 20 years. In his best-selling book It’s All About the Bike: the Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels, he writes: In the city, you connect through your job, your soccer team, your book club. , a gardening group, your child’s school or your peers – not neighbors, to choose the group of people you associate with, so you may live on a certain street for many years without knowing your neighbor’s name. But in the countryside, your neighbors are your only social circle.

Payne found that the countryside was a more sociable place and that rural residents were more willing to share their lives honestly. The rural community where he lives often organizes cultural events that urban cultural snobs sneer at, but the point is that no one feels left out. He believes that the elderly should consciously choose to live in the countryside so as not to be isolated.
By the 2020s, British newspaper supplements and magazines were still full of articles praising the virtues of rural life, and TV screens were filled with idyllic documentaries, reality shows, real estate programs and TV series. After the emergence of the new crown epidemic, many companies adopted the remote working model, and more and more people left the city and chose rural life. The famous urban planner Sir Peter Hall (1932-2014) said that he had witnessed an extraordinary “rebirth of rural Britain” in the past 50 years.

George Orwell had a brilliant summary of the rural sentiment in the British national spirit: “Almost everyone who can do it must become a rural landowner, or at least work hard in this direction.” Beckham was in the Yorkshire Dales next to bought a manor in the Cotswolds and raised bees. When the artist David Hockney gets old, he will escape from Los Angeles back to the seaside town of Bridlington in Yorkshire. He praises the rolling farmland around Bridlington as the most beautiful and unspoiled land in the UK. His creative inspiration burst out. Ordinary people can go to the countryside to work as wall builders. If they cannot afford to buy a house in the countryside because of rising bank interest rates, they can still stay at home and watch rural-themed TV series “From Queqi Township to Candle Town” and “May Flower” ( Based on the novel of the same name by the famous natural literature writer HE Bates), and “All Creatures”.

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