Designing the Charming World of All Creatures Great and Small

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Endless rolling hills and rich green meadows, quaint farms, centuries-old villages, and charming barnyard animals may be the perfect antidote for stress-filled days. And they can be found in the new PBS Masterpiece series All Creatures Great and Small.

The beloved story of author James Herriot’s 50-year career as a Yorkshire veterinarian, the new adaptation (the original aired on the BBC in 1978) follows his days as a young vet (played by Nicholas Ralph) assisting his cantankerous yet likable boss Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West).

While the scenery, townsfolk, and four-legged creatures—great (bulls, cows, and racehorses) and small (cats and dogs)—vie for attention, the location steals the show. Production designer Jacqueline Smith transformed a village, a Georgian house, and various estates, barns, and vet offices in Yorkshire in the Dales (three hours from London) into the fictional town of Darrowby during the mid-’30s.

“We were aiming for something where the hills were immediate in the background,” she tells AD, “and the buildings were very well preserved and retained their character. You can still find a lot of farms there and it hasn’t changed much in the past 200 years.”

Production designer Jacqueline Smith turned a local bookstore and cafe into the G.F. Endleby greengrocer.

Gleaning information from archival photos at the local museum, the British designer altered various shops in the town of Grassington, creating signage, dressing windows, and turning a local bookstore and café into the greengrocer G.F. Endleby. At the heart of the series is Skeldale House, where Herriot resides with Farnon, Farnon’s brother Tristan (Callum Woodhouse), and his trusty housekeeper Mrs. Hall a.k.a. “Mrs. H.” (Anna Madeley). As with many movie locations, the house was not conducive to a large film crew, so the interiors were built separately in an old mill building in Yorkshire.

Influenced by Dutch paintings of the 1600s that “celebrate everyday domestic life,” Smith opted for an Arts and Crafts look for the Georgian-style house. “I wanted the color palette to be warm and reminiscent of home baking, warm gingerbreads, and cakes, as Mrs. H. is always baking something yummy,” she says. The designer also used a heritage palette, “upping the ante” on some of the colors, such as a royal blue for the window framework and bright colors for the Arts and Crafts wallpapers. “I didn’t want this to look like a really old, dusty house. Sometimes period dramas look dusty, and I wanted the colors to have a bit more life.”

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