All Creatures Great and Small was PBS’ unexpected hit of 2021, arriving at a moment when fans needed the comfort and warmth of a friendly Yorkshire vet who is all about saving people’s cows. The PBS-Channel 5 co-production was renewed for Season 2 even before the series debuted on Masterpiece, but the new round of episodes has not yet had a U.K. premiere date, let alone one in the states. But there is good news for fans, as the first photos from the new season have arrived.
Part of the issue, of course, was the upending of the filming schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But though the delay was longer than the production wanted, the series used the extra time to its advantage. Speaking to the RadioTimes, executive producer Colin Callender called it “a bizarre, slightly odd silver lining for us, because we are using this time to commission [writer] Ben Vanstone and the writing team to work on season two... So we’re able to use this lockdown period to work on the development and script development.”
As for the cast, everyone is expected to return, with one obvious exception. The late Dame Diana Rigg passed after filming her role as Mrs. Pumphrey in the show’s first season. In April of 2021, the series announced the part would be recast with Patricia Hodge in the role. The new photos include one of Hodge and the love of her life Tricki Woo, allowing fans to get used to the changeover.
Season 2 will see the return of Nicholas Ralph as young James Herriot aspiring country vet, Samuel West as his mentor Siegfried Farnon, Anna Madeley as the loving but stern Mrs. Hall, Callum Woodhouse as Siegfried’s brother Tristan, and Rachel Shenton as James’ love interest, Helen Alderson. Matthew Lewis will return as Hugh Hulton, still smarting over Rachel leaving him at the altar. Cleo Sylvestre returns as Mrs. Chapman, she of Suzie’s large puppy litter in the Christmas special. And Kriss Dosanjh will be back as George Pandhi, the Skeldale House Veterinary Practice’s main rival.
The synopsis is very general, “more heart-warming stories from the Dales with a characterful ensemble of farmers, animals, and townsfolk living in the 1930s.” But photos also suggest that Rachel and James’ relationship may be moving right along, despite the generic nature of Season 2’s description. With her having already thrown over Hugh at the end of Season 1’s Christmas Special/finale, it remains to be seen how long the show attempts to hold onto the will-they-or-won’t-they of her and James’ relationship.
(Spoiler alert, but if you’ve read Herriot’s books, you already know the ultimate answer to this.)
The show will also add a few new faces along with Hodge. Dorothy Atkinson (Call the Midwife) will appear as Diana Brompton, a new love interest for Siegfried. Also, James Fleet (Belgravia) will turn up as Colonel Merrick, a new local farmer and an ex-military man.
All Creatures Great and Small Season 2 will run six episodes, plus a Christmas Special, which fans should assume will come as the show’s season finale here in the States. At this time, there’s no confirmed premiere date for the series. However, at the TCA executive session, PBS CEO Paula Kerger suggested Masterpiece currently plans to stick to the winter premiere slot for the series. Meanwhile, Season 1 of All Creatures Great and Small is streaming on PBS Passport.