The Inside Scoop on Season 2
Calling all All Creatures Great and Small fans! We’ve got the scoop for you! Check out what the stars of the series had to say about all things Season 2, from thoughts on their own characters, to what’s in store with their newest animal co-stars and more. [This feature contains Season 1 plot spoilers.]
Nicholas Ralph as James Herriot
Where He Left Off: At the end of Season 1, we saw James sitting in the church with Helen, who had called off her wedding at the altar, knowing she couldn’t go through with marrying Hugh when her heart wasn’t quite in it.
Where He Picks Up: Season 2 kicks off with James returning to the Dales after spending some time at home in Scotland with his family. “Being back at home in Glasgow for those few weeks was probably quite good for James, to get him out of that world for a little bit but ultimately, he knows where he wants to be and who he wants to be with,” actor Nicholas Ralph said. “It’s a little bit awkward and Helen has taken some time to herself, and James has respected that and given her space.”
But can the two resist the pull between? “They are reacquainting with one another as Helen is single now and James is a little more confident, he’s coming into his own,” Ralph said. “So they’ve both grown and are in different places. They’re reconnecting with each other under these new terms.”
The Animals: Romance and friendships aside, All Creatures Great and Small wouldn’t quite be All Creatures Great and Small without the animals! Season 2 brings in a number of new creatures, and the cases that Siegfried, James, and Tristan must handle.
One scene in particular stood out in Ralph’s experience in Season 2. “We filmed a scene around the birth of a lamb and his little friend who had just been born was running around him,” he said. “I was busy birthing the lamb and the other little fella is in between my legs, on my shoulder…”
And, who could forget Derek, the Pekingese star who plays beloved Tricki Woo? “I had a wonderful little scene with (him) where I had to sedate him, and I did the injection and he slowly started to close his eyes and he went to sleep just as if he had really been injected with anesthetic,” he recalled. “Then the director shouted ‘cut’ and he was straight back up. That’s just a wee story about how professional Derek always is on set – a real pro.”
And More…Dancing?: Be on the lookout for a dance scene that Ralph admitted was a fun challenge. “Apart from my stint doing my breakdancing when I was eight, I haven’t done a lot of dancing!” he said. “In drama school I was described as ‘enthusiastic’, but I don’t think I was very good.”
Samuel West as Siegfried Farnon
Where He Left Off: At the end of Season 2, big brother and family patriarch Siegfried, who has been helping Tristan prepare for his veterinary exams, learns that Tristan didn’t pass. But Siegfried doesn’t want to share the disappointing news with his newly dedicated and enthusiastic younger brother.
Where He Picks Up: In Season 2, we’ll see more of Siegfried and Tristan’s relationship evolving in some ways. “What we do see in the season, I hope, is a more mature understanding of what a proper, responsible relationship with Tristan might turn into,” West explained. But it hasn’t always been easy for Siegfried to connect with his brother, or to grapple with being both a father figure and a big brother to Tristan.
“Not to get too psychological on it, but and the idea that he’s now got to be a father to Tristan (when he isn’t Tristan’s dad, he’s his brother) irritates him.”
“What we might see in this season is Siegfried realizing that some of the things that Tristan is good at, or is going to be good at, come from letting him make his own mistakes, and giving him responsibility, ceding control.”
Romance in the Air?: As a widower, Siegfried hasn’t exactly found love since the death of his wife, Evelyn, and finds it hard to open up to the possibility. “Even if Evelyn isn’t mentioned, she’s always in his thoughts,” he said. “And so at his age, even though he gets lonely and he needs companionship, on some level he still feels that a relationship would be betraying Evelyn’s memory, and he wants it to matter instead of just going, “Let’s see what happens.”
Anna Madeley as Mrs. Hall
Where She Left Off: At the end of Season 1, Mrs. Hall spent a lovely Christmas with her Skeldale family, content with them, but also receiving the disappointing news that, yet again, her estranged son will not be joining her for the holiday. “It was a painful time in her relationship with her son,” Madeley explained.
“But I think Mrs. Hall now realizes that she’s opened the door for him and has done what she can in sending him messages and money and baking his favorite things. She’s done all the things she could possibly do to start building that relationship with him, but she’s going to have to let him come to her now, there’s nothing much else she could do.”
Where She Picks Up: As ever, Mrs. Hall is a woman who nothing gets by — and her gut tells her something is amiss. “Very quickly this season Mrs. Hall smells a rat!”
Mrs. Hall has always been close to the residents of Skeldale House. But will there be more happiness on the horizon for her outside of the house? “The folk inside the house are her surrogate family and she loves them all and nurtures them,” she said. “But it’s nice that Mrs. Hall has a wider life, and to see characters like Diana Brompton come along.”
The Animals: Like much of the human cast, a highlight for Madeley will always be working with her new animal co-stars. “I’ve spent a lot of time with Jess the dog. Sometimes you’re filming a poignant quiet scene and Jess jumps straight onto your lap and changes the tone of things. Or I’ve just got some knitting out and Jess thinks I’ve got a ball for her to play with!”
Callum Woodhouse at Tristan Farnon
Where He Left Off: At the end of Season 1, after finally buckling down and working hard to study for his veterinary exams and become the professional his brother has always hoped he’d be, Tristan feels more passionate and focused.
Where He Picks Up: Though Tristan will always be the lovable wild child of the Skeldale bunch, he’s also found he wants to mature. “Tristan being Tristan, he’s always going to enjoy a pint at The Drovers Arms, and maybe a lovely lady’s company, but yes, he definitely does seem to step up in all the other aspects of his life,” Woodhouse said.
His relationship with Siegfried is also changing, but not without bumps in the road. “Without giving too much away, every emotion that you could possibly feel passes between these two over the course of this season,” Woodhouse explained.
Still, he’ll always enjoy riling up his big brother. “At his heart, that’s what Tristan is, he’s a bit of a wind-up merchant. He absolutely loves getting a rise out of someone, and nobody in the world gives a better rise than Siegfried, so he’s just going to keep on doing it and doing it. My sister and I have a really similar relationship with our older brother, we just love winding him up! But he secretly loves it. I like to think that Siegfried does as well. He very convincingly feigns annoyance.”
Batter Up!: This season also features some cricket, something Woodhouse has experience playing, but not really playing. “Weirdly, in my final year at drama school, we did a play that was all about cricket, called The English Game, and then in the second season of The Durrells in Corfu, there was a cricket match, so this is actually the third cricket match I’ve done in my acting career, weirdly. I should be all over it but in the play there was actually no cricket played, and in The Durrells in Corfu, a lot of it was CGI. So this was the first time I had to some batting and some running…”
Rachel Shenton as Helen Alderson
Where She Left Off: At the end of Season 1, Helen called off her wedding to Hugh Hulton at the church. (And perhaps the sparks flying between her and James the night before had a little something to do with it…)
Where She Picks Up: “At the start of the series, Helen has retreated,” Shenton explained of her character. “She’s very much at home all of the time, with her sister and her dad, looking after the farm and taking on that role that is so familiar to her.”
After the events of Season 1, her time on the farm with her family has given her time to think — and maybe time to clear her head, as well. “She’s had such a lot to deal with as such a young woman, she’s taken on a parental role, she’s looked after the Alderson house and the farm…”
And her farming knowledge helps her reconnect with James, as their relationship continues to take shape. Where James’ knowledge of farm life sometimes lacks, Helen is there to help. “I think Helen can be a little more objective – she’s very emotionally intelligent and she has grown up quite quickly. She knows that James loves the animals and cares about them, and she also knows how her dad and the farmers think, as she grew up in the Dales. She understands there’s a certain way things are done.”
Will farming be the catalyst that finally brings them together?
Plus, A Few New Faces!
This season also introduces some new faces to the Darrowby scene! Actress Patricia Hodge (Miranda, A Very English Scandal) has stepped into the role of Mrs. Pumphrey, after the passing of Season 1 Pumphrey actress Diana Rigg. Hodge immediately felt welcomed by the entire All Creatures Great and Small team —including Derek the dog!
“I just loved (Derek) straight away. He is a sweetie,” Hodge said. On the first day of filming Derek’s handler came over and said ‘I gather you want to meet Derek, here he is’ and he introduced us, and the first thing I ever do with a dog is hold my hand out so the dog can start to sniff you. And Derek literally looked at me, and looked away, and looked at me, and looked away. As if he was saying ‘well what on earth are you holding your hand out for!’ His handler told me he was the most laid-back dog, and he really is. He is an extraordinary dog. I’ve never come across such a placid dog before.”
Other newcomers include Dorothy Atkinson as Diana Brampton, a local divorcee; Amy Nuttall (Downton Abbey’s Ethel Parks) as local farmer Mrs. Dalby; and Will Thorp, who plays Gerald Hammond, a kind man in search of a romance.