The star of TV’s The Yorkshire Vet has revealed how he owes everything to… TV’s original Yorkshire vet.
Channel 5 favourite Peter Wright was a struggling young professional when he was given a £7,000 loan by his mentor Alf Wight, better known by his pen name James Herriot.
Alf had shown Peter the ropes at the same time as he was writing the All Creatures Great And Small books, which became a huge hit on the BBC.
The loan helped Peter secure his first home and cemented a friendship now being told in brilliant new book The Yorkshire Vet – In The Footsteps of Herriot.
The memoir tugs at the heart strings in one breath then leaves you in stitches the next as real tales of veterinary life unfold.
Peter reveals how Alf changed his life by dipping his hand so deeply into his pocket.
He says: “That gesture by Alf to help me when I was strapped for cash is a measure of the man who inspired me to become a vet.
“He was one of the most loyal men you could meet but he wouldn’t thank me for telling people of his kindness, he was a very humble man and a brilliant human being.”
Peter, 62, was a teenager when he did work experience for Alf and his partner Donald Sinclair in Thirsk, North Yorks.
He then went to Liverpool Veterinary School where he and pals gathered around the TV for All Creatures Great And Small.
The show featured Christopher Timothy as James Herriot, while Robert Hardy and Peter Davison played Siegfried and Tristan Farnon – versions of Donald Sinclair and brother Brian.
Peter recalls: “We would crowd around the crackly TV set on a Sunday night. Seeing Donald and Alf as Siegfried and James made me proud and a little homesick.”
Peter spent his first year as a vet in Luton before returning to Thirsk to join Alf and Donald.
“I was elated,” he says.
And life was never dull.
Peter says: “Once, Donald and Alf’s son Jim were doing a cat spay. The patient suddenly stopped.
“It was the ’70s and they were using a very unpredictable anaesthetic; it could be difficult to get the dose right. Donald sprung into action, grabbing the dead cat and running outside.
“He began whirling it around, something vets and farmers do with newborn lambs to encourage them to take their first breath.
“But Donald swung the cat with too much vigour. It slipped from his hand and shot into the garden of the Royal British Legion next door, hitting a man who let out a stream of expletives.
“Sadly, the cat’s flight had no effect on its breathing, it remained dead.”
In the 1980s, when All Creatures Great And Small drew 18million viewers a week, Peter said there would be hordes of fans waiting at the surgery to get a book signed by “James Herriot”.
He goes on: “It was not unlike having a rock star in our midst, albeit one who avoided the limelight and didn’t enjoy being the centre of attention. People were coming from Japan, Australia and America.
“Alf, being a gentleman, didn’t want to let his fans down.
“His influence was far subtler than teaching me veterinary skills. When he took me on calls he often played classical music.
“We would drive along listening to Beethoven or Mozart. Hearing this music and surrounded by Yorkshire’s allure, there were times when I experienced such emotion I couldn’t put it into words. In essence I felt as though life couldn’t get any better.”
Alf’s generosity was demonstrated again when Peter wed his beloved partner Lin. He gave them a hand-carved table and knocked £1,000 off the £7,000 loan he had given Peter to buy an ex-girlfriend out of a house they lived in.
Like Alf, Peter was dedicated to his job and he tells how he even pulled in a farm visit while taking Lin to hospital to give birth.
It was 1987 and Peter says: “Doctors said Lin needed a caesarean. I wanted to drive her there but I decided to look in on some cows first as it was a longstanding client and it was on my way. Lin wasn’t surprised but we did make it to the hospital for Emily to be born.”
Top news stories from Mirror Online
Peter also chronicles the sad times. Like 1995 – when Alf died of cancer and Donald took his own life months after his wife died.
Donald had backed voluntary euthanasia and, says Peter, took an overdose of pills normally used to “euthanise vicious dogs”.
Peter also recalls the foot and mouth epidemic of 2001, saying: “It was a devastating period that saw slaughter of animals in a desperate bid to prevent disease spreading. I was at the centre of this storm.
“Myself and Lin were invited to lunch with Prince Charles at St James’s Palace for my efforts. I found myself joking with the heir to the throne when a Welsh farmer told us he’d been given £7 for his daughter’s three guinea pigs who had to be killed. Prince Charles asked what the £7 was for.
“I leaned in and said ‘meat value, Sir.’ I was joking but I wasn’t poking fun at the guinea pigs.
“It was just that a few pounds for three innocuous pets, when entire communities had been decimated in an emergency that cost billions, was surely an occasion for a little black humour.
“Lin asked a waiter for a wine label as a souvenir and he gave her an unopened bottle from Highgrove. She came out with it under her jacket as if she’d stolen it. We’ve still got it.”
In 2015 Peter became a star of TV himself with the fly-on-the-wall series about life at his practice.
The Yorkshire Vet is now in its seventh series, pulls in two million viewers on Tuesday nights and sells to a global audience too.
- The Yorkshire Vet – In The Footsteps of Herriot, in hardback, for just £15 + p&p (RRP £18.99). With offer code VET at mirrorbooks.co.uk or call 01256 302699, lines open from 8.30am to 5.30pm, Mon-Fri.
Source: Read Full Article