If you’re not watching this utterly delightful (it’s my favorite thing of at least two years) series on Masterpiece Theatre, you should start at once. It’s based on James Herriot’s wonderful book series, but has taken the story we all know and love and given it some beautifully heroic female characters to go along with the incredibly memorable antics of Siegfried and his younger brother Tristan. Just… watch it. It’s splendid. Rather than waste time dallying further, let’s sally forth and type the characters according to the Sorting Hat Chats system!
Mrs. Hall is the only Ravenclaw of the bunch. The firm but loving housekeeper that keeps them all in line is forever prodding the young and middle-aged men under her care to be better people. Though she looks like a Hufflepuff at first, in the season finale we learn that the reason for the rift between her and her son is because she caught him stealing out of her previous employer’s till. Rather than lie for him, she turned him in and wrote her resignation. She let him spend six months in jail, because it was the right thing to do—and he hasn’t forgiven her for it. She stood on her principles, on the rules she had set for her own life and for her loved ones, and though it pained her, she put an idealistic belief in moral goodness ahead of her thieving son. She held firm, and even though he hasn’t forgiven her, she has total faith in that she did the right thing, because she upheld her conscience.
Helen, the charming farmer’s daughter that soon catches James’ eye, is a Slytherin. She makes endless sacrifices for her family—she wanted to go off, become a secretary, and see the world… and then her mother died. Rather than abandon her little sister, Helen stayed to raise her and help her dad out with the farm. She gave up her dream out of a sense of familial obligation… and she even almost marries the wealthy landowner up the road because she thinks it could help her family. Hugh has money and influence and is sweet and kind, but it’s not until her father tells her “you don’t ever have to do anything for me” that Helen feels like she cannot go through with the wedding and calls it off. She needed to know it was okay not to do something advantageous for her loved ones, and to listen to her heart instead.
Tristan, unsurprisingly, is a Gryffindor. He’s largely inert and caught up in having fun… until a Cause comes along that needs championing, and then he rushes right into action. He needs to feel a sense of purpose, or he isn’t engaged in the world or in his veterinarian studies. But when he finds out he is necessary, Tristan comes to life. James needs help with a cow that he wants to save, because she means so much to the family who bought her? Tristan will pour over the text books and propose a risky surgery. A child has a sick donkey on Christmas Eve that needs looking after? Tristan will pass up the chance to snog endless girls under the mistletoe to attend to the problem. Though somewhat cowed by his brother’s tantrums, he will happily go against him if it’s for a greater cause… and not back down when Siegfried turns up to challenge him.
Siegfried is a Slytherin. The reason he’s so hard on Tristan is that he wants him to become something both he and their dead parents can be proud of—so he pushes him hard to be responsible and make something of his life. He’s harder on him than anyone, because he loves him more than anyone else; he has raised him since he was thirteen, when Siegfried had no choice but to become a ‘second father.’ But his loyalty doesn’t just extend to his brother—he also has a protectiveness over Mrs. Hall, and James. Siegfried receives the chance for a prestigious position with a stable, working with racehorses—his dream job, on the condition that he fire James for a recent decision James made that proved to be unpopular. Siegfried does not even hesitate to refuse the position, insisting that James is the best assistant he’s ever had. He lets his dream crumble into dust, because he’s loyal to his friends.
James Herriot, of course, the delightful protagonist of the series, full of gentle charm but occasional steel, is a Hufflepuff. He cares for all the animals, and their owners, too. It grieves him when an animal might die, because of the harm it might do to their owners’ financial state. But he also cannot play favorites—when Helen asks for him to vouch for the family bull so they can make a beneficial sale, James feels torn, because he doesn’t want to sacrifice his integrity on a lie, if he isn’t sure about the bull’s state of reproductive health—nor does he want someone else to buy a ‘worthless bull.’ James stands by his conscience and tells the truth, even though it’s harmful to Helen and her father, because he’s loyal enough to everyone to do it. Even though he has feelings for Helen, James out of respect for the man she is going to marry, holds his tongue and does nothing to attempt to come between them. He believes in being honest and fair in all things.
Mrs. Hall, Helen, Siegfried and James are all Hufflepuff Secondaries—willing to show up and do the hard work, build up a reputation for quality and reliability, and earn others’ trust through being responsible. Naturally, Siegfried cannot understand why his Slytherin Secondary brother cannot maintain a rigid study schedule or be ‘responsible’ with his schoolwork. Tristan’s Slytherin secondary prefers to improvise—and does so successfully, whether he’s gambling, dealing with women, or winning over a client through charm and seeing what’s immediately possible or apparent. He can ‘become’ whatever the situation needs.
If you’re also interested in their MBTI types, please read the profiles I’ve done for them on Funky. 🙂