Since the premiere of the All Creatures Great and Small reboot, the series has brought in a whole new generation of fans. Like the original series, the show is based on the writings of James Herriot, who worked as a veterinarian in Yorkshire in the interwar period and World War II era. The show was a hit on the U.K.'s Channel 5 and was renewed for Season 2 before it premiered in the United States. With that season heading to PBS come winter 2022, the main cast appeared at the Television Critics Association 2021 Summer press tour to discuss the new season.
For those wondering if Season 2 will pick up the pace at all, the good news is that it won't. The show's writer, Ben Vanstone, said that going in, the production team felt they had four or five seasons worth of stories they could adapt from Herriot's writings, and currently, they are on track for that to be the case. "This show is quite peculiar in a way, that most series eat stories very quickly, where this show gives those stories time to play out slowly and the characters time to breathe. We have a fair way to go with our plans." Executive producer Colin Callendar mentioned Season 3 production was slated to get underway in spring 2022, so the production seems to be planning to run at least as long as the original 1970s era show.
The new season teasers have also featured Patricia Hodge as Mrs. Pumphrey, stepping into the role developed by the late Dame Diana Rigg. When asked about the choice to recast the role instead of letting it go, Callendar joked, "if they could replace Dumbledore in Harry Potter, we could find another Mrs. Pumphrey." More seriously, Callender admitted they'd considered changing things up and creating "another character who was related to Mrs. Pumphrey." But, "in the end, we decided that Mrs. Pumphrey was such an iconic character in the book that we needed to have her and she would be missed, and if we found the right actress who could create the character herself, that we would have a win all around."
But if Mrs. Pumphrey was a problem to replace, the entire cast agreed that Derek, the pup who plays her beloved pampered Pekingese, was the show's MVP. Actor Callum Woodhouse, who plays Tristan, called the dog "the ultimate professional" and told a story where Samuel West, who plays Seigfried, was supposed to walk through the house while Derek followed him. West forgot half of his marks and wound up being shown up by the pup. West shrugged: "He's the only animal actor I have ever worked with that definitely reads the script." Nicholas Ralph, who plays Herriot agreed, "Consummate professional. Outdoes me every time. You can't win a scene."
Since animals are a big part of the show, they took up a lot of the discussion. West confessed cows were the worst to work with: "They don't like it if you move away from them. They like knowing where you are. So if you are standing next to a cow and you have managed to get it on its mark, and then you continue the scene by walking away, the cow goes, "Where is he, where is he," and backs into you." Thankfully, this season will not only include cows, but pigs and sheep, and most importantly, baby lambs, since Season 2 was filmed in the springtime.
Pigs and sheep may seem like a small, and rather silly, thing to focus on when it comes to most shows, but it's the small things in All Creatures that make it tick. As West put it, "I think one of the things about coming out during lockdown as well, because everybody's world has shrunk, is if you are making a story about a family who have one cow rather than 500, like most farmers do now, then the loss of it is a tragedy. And if it dies in calf-birth, that's enough of a story... shrinking your viewfinder until that fills the frame is enough."
And speaking of small moments, the James and Rachel will-they-or-won't-they will also continue to build with slow, small moments. Vanstone noted that though their relationship has pulled a lot of focus, "if you actually look at the amount of time they spend together in the first series, it is not that long at all... going back to what we were saying before about these small moments, is the reality is these things do take time. We don't all get the thunderbolt and have relationships that happen from one spark and ignite into life. I think it takes time. I think that's the enjoyable thing for the series, is we sort of slowly see these two characters understand one another better and understand themselves."
All Creatures Great and Small will return to PBS in the Winter of 2022. Season 1 is streaming on PBS Passport.