Anna Madeley Interview: Mrs. Hall’s Love, Loss & Lightness

If you’re crying into your shortbread, you’re not alone—All Creatures Great and Small‘s Season 3, Episode 5 finally provided the reunion we’ve waited three seasons to see, and it was every bit as moving, vulnerable, heartbreaking, and affirming as we could have hoped. Now, discover actress Anna Madeley’s insights into the emotional arc of her character Mrs. Hall, and why there’s still optimism and hope ahead.

Anna Madeley as Mrs. Hall in All Creatures Great and Small as seen on MASTERPIECE on PBS

What was your experience making the powerful Episode 5 of Season 3, where Mrs. Hall finally reunites with her estranged son, Edward?

Anna Madeley:

I thought the script was absolutely stunning. We had a new writer called Karim Khan, who is already taking off. It was just beautiful. It was a piece of art. It was amazing. So it was a real privilege to get to work on it. And I think because we’ve had that long wait to meet Edward—we didn’t know if it was going to happen—it was really special that it was such a good episode.

It was wonderful to expand that backstory, to let people in a bit more on what that family life was like. How they’re just a very normal family who got caught up in circumstances and they’ve muddled their way through and are trying to find their way forwards.

Conor Deane came in to play Edward and he was just wonderful. There was a beautiful mixture of vulnerability of this young man trying to work out the world and being thrown into the possibility of war, and what that did to them as a family—how she was trying to protect him and at the same time is get to know him again. To sort of meet each other, I suppose a bit as adults, but still as mother and son, also trying to resolve their issues of the past. It held so much in it, that episode, and I felt there were certain scenes where, every line, you spent a lot of time thinking about it and attaching it to some history.

Also, being mindful of the fact that the two characters hadn’t met for quite a long time, it would be a strange meeting at the railway station after all that time. That idea of, “Will he look different?” and of course, as soon as you see him, it is your child, of course you recognize him. But he’s in uniform, with all that that brings with it as well, it’s heavily loaded—I mean, it’s wonderfully layered, the fact that early in her marriage, her husband went off to war and came back extremely damaged by it. So the prospect of her son going off to war obviously resonates with all of that as well.

I think that’s one of the things that’s been really addressed really well, through Siegfried’s story in Episode 3 as well. What the different generations feel about the possibilities of war underlines a lot of those things.


It’s such an intense episode, I can’t help but wonder if you took it home with you during the filming?

Anna Madeley:

Yeah, I did a bit on that one, because it sort of percolates in your mind constantly. Also, when we were shooting it, filming Edward getting off on a train, it was just at the time when all the news footage was of Ukraine and the mothers and children heading off on the trains. It gave it another resonance in that right, as well, that war is war and that’s what families go through when they’re separated like that. So the responsibility and the privilege of working on it felt very present, that it might be something that a lot of people could relate to as an experience. All those things gave me sort of an in as an actor to what this might be about, and what it might feel like as well. It was great experience doing that episode.


This season we’ve learned so much about her marriage and family life. It seems really important to understand that she’d been in love with her husband; they’d at one time had a happy marriage…

Anna Madeley:

Yeah, I agree, because I think there’s hope and there’s optimism, and the idea that it might have gone a different way. I think that’s also why it’s been so hard for her to move forward from it, because he wasn’t someone who was just a mean person or had treated her badly on account of just not caring—he’s somebody who went through something. She can see that, and at the same time has had to draw a line on how much she can take, and tried to do her best in the circumstances. So at the same time as having great sadness about it, I think she also holds within it her optimism that it doesn’t necessarily need to be like that.

I think that’s one of the lovely things in her relationship with Gerald. I don’t know if you remember a scene in Season 2, one of their walks with the dogs, when he talks about the fact that he felt lucky, in a way, that he’d only got a bit of a leg injury in the war. It meant that he couldn’t then go back out, but he also understood that the damage could be psychological, and difficult, and that was just as valid. Because obviously in those times I don’t think people quite understood exactly what it was. And for the woman at home who wasn’t there, who doesn’t really understand what the men have been through, it’s quite hard.

So I think all those lovely layers are there in that, and it allows Mrs. Hall to not be bitter about any of it. It’s sad, but she can say to Helen, “You in love, you step off on the right thing and you do your best.” No one’s promising you it’s going to be a particular way, but you can make good decisions and try and go off on your adventure. And she can still be hopeful and optimistic about that. It hasn’t jaded her overall outlook on life and the possibilities. So I think that’s rather lovely, as well.


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