A remake of All Things Great and Small will give a “fuller role to women,” the series makers have said.
Executive producer Colin Callender told critics that the period piece’s upcoming revival, set to premiere in January, will update the series with a more contemporary sensibility.
“We felt the psychological underpinning of the characters could be explored more fully,” he said during a session at this summer’s online version of the Television Critics Association press tour.
“We felt the role of women in this society could be dramatized more fully.”
Chanel 5 has commissioned an initial series of six episodes along with a Christmas special.
The series, like the original of 90 episodes that began in 1978, is based on the bestselling books by veterinarian James Herriot.
Callender, who is CEO of the show’s production company Playground , said the early version of the series had definite sitcom overtones and rhythms and is aiming for it to play out more as a comedy-drama.
Herriot’s books have never gone out of print and have sold 18 million copies, including more in the U.S than the U.K, according to Callender.
“There’s an enormous fan base for the books,” he said. “I think within minutes of turning on, you will accept this cast wholeheartedly and embrace them fully as the characters they play.
“The two shows can live comfortably and respectfully side by side.”
Although Callender said he never considered retelling the stories in a more modern setting, he thought new audiences would welcome some changes.
Fellow executive producer for the series, Susanne Simpson, is keen to draw a distinction between the upcoming series and its original version.
The original had appeared as a syndicated show on public television stations, she said.
“So actually this is our first time showing All Creatures Great and Small, and we love everything about it,” she added.
Herriot’s two children, Jim Wight and Rosie Page, have lauded the decision to revive their father’s works.
“The books of James Herriot have enchanted millions of readers worldwide for almost half a century.
We are delighted that our father’s work will be brought to life once again for a new generation of viewers Great and Small,” they said.
Digital channel controller, Sebastian Cardwell from Channel 5 said: “James Herriot has a special place in the heart of the public and the commission of this iconic drama series, against the stunning backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales, is set to bring joy to a new army of TV viewers.”
“The original books affectionately captured a unique slice of British life; in challenging times, we hope the charming and heart-warming stories of community and compassion will resonate with new audiences.”