Based on the stories by best-selling author James Herriot (in real life, Thirsk vet Alf Wight), the story picks up in 1940 as Churchill takes office and Europe is under severe threat. There will be six new 60-minute episodes, plus a Christmas Special.
Channel 5 has confirmed that major cast members Nicholas Ralph, Rachel Shenton, Samuel West, Anna Madeley and Patricia Hodge will all reprise their roles.
James (Nicholas Ralph) is now happily married to Helen Herriot, played by Rachel Shenton (recently seen in Channel 5 drama For Her Sins) and they are still living in the bedsit at the top of Skeldale House as uncertainty looms over their lives.
Capricious head vet Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West) is missing his little brother Tristan (Callum Woodhouse), having said goodbye in last Christmas’s episode as Tristan boarded a train taking him to the war service duties from which his elder brother, a veteran of the First World War, had tried so hard to shield him.
Fans have been disappointed to learn that Callum Woodhouse will not be appearing in series 4 because his character, Tristan Farnan, is away serving in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. Channel 5 points out that Tristan’s absence is in line with the original books by James Herriot.
Anna Madeley is back as Mrs Hall, housekeeper and matriarch of Skeldale House, and her love life and family relationships look set to intrigue viewers throughout season four. Will Thorp returns as Gerald, and fans will be intrigued to find out whether or not romance continues to blossom between him and Mrs Hall (following that kiss at the Skeldale House Christmas party).
Sheffield-born actor Tony Pitts reprises his role as Helen’s father, Richard Alderson, and Imogen Clawson, from Harrogate, is back as Helen’s sister, Jenny Alderson.
Cleo Sylvestre MBE will return as farmer Anne Chapman (viewers might remember that in series one, Anne and her husband Bert (Dave Hill) lived in the remote hilltop farm where James and Helen got snowed in on the night before Helen was due to marry Hugh Hulton (Harry Potter’s Matthew Lewis). Paul Copley and James Bolam MBE will also appear.
Patricia Hodge reprises her role as the wonderful Mrs Pumphrey alongside pampered Pekingese Tricki-Woo (Derek).
A new character is set to step through the doors of Skeldale House in the form of studious student vet Richard Carmody, played by James Anthony-Rose (Slow Horses, Pennyworth). This is his first major acting role.
Neve McIntosh (Shetland) joins the cast as efficient bookkeeper Miss Harbottle, who will no doubt have her work cut out trying to keep Siegfried and his eccentric billing system in order. Coronation Street’s Sam Retford is set to appear as FO Woodham.
Filming took place in the Yorkshire Dales from March to July this year, centred around Grassington, which is used for Darrowby. Fans from across the world gathered in the village to watch the production.
The Christmas episode was filmed in July, like last year in swelteringly hot conditions. Fans visiting the location were also looking for signs of a new baby, reporting that areas surrounding James and Helen were screened off from view.