The Cast & Creator on the Season 3 Finale

Go behind the scenes of All Creatures Great and Small‘s most moving episode to date, the Season 3 finale. Callum Woodhouse (Tristan Farnon), Nicholas Ralph (James Herriot), Samuel West (Siegfried Farnon) and Head Writer and Executive Producer Ben Vanstone share their insights on the powerful—and ultimately heartwarming—tear-jerker.

Contains significant Episode 7 spoilers.

  1. 1.

    On Tristan's Christmas Speech: Callum Woodhouse

    I don’t like to say too much pretentious stuff, because sometimes when I see people going on, I’m like, “Oh, come on, get a room. Stop it.” But that speech, I remember we got it maybe two or three weeks before filming it, and I don’t think in the entire time leading up to it I managed to read it all the way through without crying. And I remember saying to someone, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to actually learn it, because every time I’m trying to learn it, I end up just crying, and I have to go to the toilet to sort myself out.” So I had a really hard time learning it, because it just made me so emotional.

    Doing it, I don’t think I let the emotion dictate the scene, because it was so beautifully written—you just need to say the words, and it does trick, because the words are beautiful. But I think because I’d spent so long getting emotional about it, it was maybe just all bubbling under the surface, which I think, I guess, made it more sincere.

  2. 2.

    On Tristan's Christmas Speech: Samuel West

    One of the pleasures of playing Siegfried is that he isn’t quite as old or as stuck in the mud as he thinks he is, and there are people around him, principally Mrs. Hall and Tristan, but also, in their own ways, James and Helen, who are constantly reinventing his idea of what people are. And watching somebody who thought they were slightly frozen and blocked thaw in moments of warmth, is, I think, a real pleasure. Siegfried and Tristan’s father was not a giving man, and I’m absolutely certain that neither of Siegfried’s parents ever told him they loved him, although he may have felt it. I tell my children I love them twice a day and they’re probably bored of it, but I’d rather they were bored of it than waiting to hear it for 60 years.

    I cry at everything. I’m hopeless. Whenever they say, “When did you last cry and why?” I’m like, “20 minutes ago.” To say something about the way Cal played that scene, is that two people trying not to cry is always much more moving.

  3. 3.

    Saying Goodbye: Nicholas Ralph

    It’s quite seismic change in this little world of Skeldale House. James is losing his drinking partner, his buddy, his best mate, his brother, and losing him under the certain circumstances that he’s going to war. That in itself is a very scary thing, so he’s worried about his mate, thinking will he see him again? and all that sort of stuff. And he’s proud of Tristan, that he’s taking it upon himself to get out from underneath Siegfried’s shadow. So he’s uncertain, worried, and proud as well. It was absolutely a mixed bag of emotions.

  4. 4.

    Saying Goodbye: Samuel West

    What’s going through his head is, “May he be safe, may he be safe.” What does any parent feel when somebody leaves home? “Just write and tell me you’re all right, occasionally.” He says, “I’m proud of you.” It’s old stag and young stag, isn’t it? They need to fight, and if one of them is not going to give in, then the other one has to leave and make his life elsewhere. But also, he goes with Siegfried’s love and with his hope for his safety.

  5. 5.

    On Tristan and Siegfried Saying Goodbye: Ben Vanstone

    Siegfried and Tristan are ill-equipped to have a relationship. They have this father-son relationship foisted upon them, and Siegfried isn’t particularly able to be that for Tristan, and Tristan isn’t particularly able to accept him as a father. So from the off, they’re kind of doomed, but trying to figure it out. Siegfried’s answer to it always is to “be me” and Tristan actually wants to be Siegfried, but that annoys Siegfried, and they end up in quite an impossible situation for themselves in terms of who they are as people. I think they’ve both got to learn that actually, maybe we can’t fix this. The best thing that Tristan needs is to discover who he is, rather than living up to Siegfried’s expectations. So as well as it being about Siegfried realizing he can’t protect Tristan, it’s also about realizing that the best thing for Tristan is probably not to be protected, and to go and fly and leave the nest.

    Underpinning all of their story for me was this idea that they would get to a point—and I think I said it to Sam and Callum on the readthrough the of the very first episode—they would hopefully get to a point where they can hug. When it comes, it’s after this release, where they’ve been able to be honest with one another and get out some of that deep stuff that’s been holding them back, while at the same time reconciling with one another with what it has to be, despite it being really quite sad.

    And I think it’s a particularly British thing, that to avoid getting too deep with our emotions, we might turn a moment into a joke or to do something funny to make someone laugh—it feels like it’s sort of a slight defense mechanism, particularly for these two, who aren’t especially good at showing their feelings. So when they get to that moment of their hug—which was set up, knowing that we were going to have this moment down the line, in Series 1, Episode 4, where they’re parting ways and Siegfried thrusts out his hand to shake hands, and they essentially decide they’re not going to hug—to me it felt real that Tristan would’ve racked up a bar bill. (And knowing that he might be going, I think that he would probably keep the money in his pocket!) Yes, they’ve changed and grown, but also, underneath, there are fundamentals in that relationship which remain the same. So there’s a little moment where, after Tristan mentions the bar bill, Siegfried kind of smiles at it—and Sam plays this brilliantly—where you see a little moment of Siegfried taking joy in the character of his brother. It’s normally the sort of thing that he would tell him off for, but he’s actually appreciating him for all his little foibles and faults, and loves him for it, as well. It was really lovely to write that episode.

  6. 6.

    Tristan's Departure on the Train: Callum Woodhouse

    I remember on the day feeling very good about it. It is just such a beautiful end, an absolute hurricane of emotions. That’s why he’s crying and smiling—he’s upset to be leaving his brother, but he’s finally got the acceptance that he’s been craving. At the same time, he’s also figured out what he thinks is the right next step for him, which is, again, a positive thing. But to do that, he needs to leave all those he loves, so there’s just a hurricane going on in there, really.

  7. 7.

    Tristan's Departure on the Train: Ben Vanstone

    It’s in the script, the mix of emotions that he felt—it’s excitement, it’s fear, it’s sort of sadness and joy, and it’s all bound up in the same moment. But the same time, it’s down to the director and actor who sat together and worked that through, and there are lots of opportunities in that episode for Tristan to break down in tears, and Callum made the choice not to. I think he held it all for that private moment at the end, which makes it so much more cathartic. He’s had this massive showdown with his brother, held it together for this Christmas speech, he’s done the goodbye to James and everyone at the car and then his brother on the train station platform…and then it’s this beautiful private little moment where it all becomes too much and starts spilling out, which I just thought was a really beautiful choice on Callum’s behalf. It was very moving, that day.


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