Change is in the air in the Yorkshire Dales. For three seasons, All Creatures Great and Small has experienced hardly any turnover in its cast, but when Season 4 returns early next year, there will be a few new faces roaming the halls of Skeldale House. These new stars are coming to the British drama at a time of great upheaval for both Siegfried Farnon's (Samuel West) veterinary practice and the country at large, which has just entered into World War II.
In Season 3, Siegfried's younger brother Tristan (Callum Woodhouse) struck out on his own and enlisted in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps; when he was called up to serve in the Christmas special, he bid an emotional farewell to his home and the man who raised him. Siegfried is no stranger to the dangers of war, but this season, he's forced to cope with the anxiety of potentially losing his brother, all while continuing to run his practice with James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) and navigating his feelings for housekeeper Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley).
Though it may be weighed down by the realities of World War II, All Creatures Great and Small Season 4 will still "be full of the warmth and humor" that has made it one of Masterpiece's most successful shows of all time, executive producer Susanne Simpson promises. Here's what to expect when the delightful British series returns for its fourth season:
All Creatures Great and Small Season 4 picks up in spring 1940 as Prime Minister Winston Churchill takes office amid the growing threat from Nazi Germany. With Tristan gone and James enjoying married life with Helen (Rachel Shenton), Siegfried brings in extra hands to help around the practice: efficient bookkeeper Miss Harbottle (Neve McIntosh) and undergraduate veterinary student Richard Carmody (James Anthony-Rose). As James settles into his new role as Richard's mentor, Siegfried attempts to recover from watching Mrs. Hall and Gerald's (Will Thorp) kiss under the mistletoe, which is sure to make him more grumbly than ever.
Four of ACGAS' main cast members will return for the new season: Samuel West, Nicholas Ralph, Anna Madeley, and Rachel Shenton. Madeley and Shenton have done much of their finest work as a duo, but this season, they'll be welcoming another woman into the fold, played by Neve McIntosh. The Scottish actor is known for her work in Shetland as well as a recurring role in Doctor Who.
The men of Skeldale House are also getting a new compatriot in James Anthony-Rose's veterinary student. Anthony-Rose previously worked with West on Small Horses; he has also appeared in Belgravia and Masters of the Air.
Season 4 will also see the return of Patricia Hodge as Mrs. Pumphrey and Derek as her beloved Pekingese Tricki Woo; Tony Pitts and Imogen Clawson as Helen's father and sister, Richard and Jenny Alderson; and Will Thorp as Gerald, who may not be moving away to Hull, after all.
Brace yourselves, All Creatures fans: There's a very good chance Tristan won't appear in Season 4. Woodhouse wasn't listed in Masterpiece's cast announcement, and he hasn't been seen in any paparazzi photos or early images of the new installment. It was also announced that Woodhouse will be starring in horror film One of Us, the timing of which conflicted with ACGAS' Season 4 production window. With that in mind, Woodhouse's participation in Season 4 will likely be limited, if he appears at all, but fans should keep their fingers crossed for a cheeky Tristan sighting later this season. After all, someone has to wear that elf costume come Christmastime.
All Creatures Great and Small Season 4 will air in the U.K. this fall before premiering on Masterpiece on PBS on January 7, 2024. Like previous iterations, this season will include six episodes, plus a Christmas special.
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.