- Hello, my name is Jenelle Riley.
I'm so thrilled to be here today and so excited for the virtual event with "All Creatures Great and Small."
Please, join me in welcoming today's guests, who have helped bring James Herriot's story to the screen.
We have the actor who plays James Herriot, Nicholas Ralph.
(Jenelle laughs) - The actor who plays Siegfried Farnon, Samuel West.
- The actor who plays Helen Herriot.
Please, welcome Rachel Shenton.
- The actor who plays Tristan Farnon, Callum Woodhouse.
- And the actor who plays Mrs. Hall, Anna Madeley.
- And we also have the executive producer of Playground, Melissa Gallant.
- And the executive producer of Masterpiece, Susanne Simpson.
- Again, congratulations on a wonderful third season.
Somehow, this show just keeps getting better and better.
It's also that rare program that is loved both by critics and by audiences and something really special.
I would love to know why you think the show resonates so much with people, especially right now.
And let's start with Susanne.
- Well, just this afternoon, for example, I was out for a walk and ran into neighbors who had had dinner with people the night before, and they're telling me they love the show.
And so, I ask, "Well, why do you like it so much?"
And they say it's just so warm, inspiring, uplifting, funny.
They just enjoy all of the characters, so they like to see what happens to all of them, so I think it is that feeling of a warm bath that everybody enjoys.
- I love that metaphor, "warm bath."
Now I wanna take one.
(laughs) Melissa, what about for you?
- I think our news feeds are so full of stories about people trying to destroy each other and nations, and I think the show brings something that really flies in the face of that, about a family and a community who support and care about each other.
It's joyful, and it's funny.
But also, we don't shy away from the truth of those characters and relationships and stories and, sometimes, how painful that is, but we always bring audiences back to a place of warmth and humor, as well.
I think we are so inundated with wonderful letters and emails from people who often are actually having a really difficult time and find watching the show...
It's almost medicinal, I think, just makes them feel better.
- And people are so passionate about the show and the characters.
I'm curious, for the cast: if you get recognized for the show, and I'm sure you do, what do people mostly wanna talk to you about?
And let's start with Callum because I really think your brother could've told you that you didn't pass the exam.
(Callum laughs) And I would have a word with him.
- Yeah, that's a big one.
- How rude.
- "Will Tristan/Siegfried ever hug?"
That's another big one that people are desperate to know about.
- Let's answer that right now.
- Yeah, that's for us to know and you to find out.
(Callum laughs) - Hey.
- Me and Sam hug all the time.
- All the time.
- If that's any consolation.
- But it's not hugging really, yeah.
- It is.
- What's so cool about that, as well, is that it's not even in the UK now.
We were out in L.A. there, and we got stopped at a food market, and Rach, didn't you get stopped somewhere in Eastern Europe or something?
- Yeah, I was shooting in Slovakia, in Bratislava, earlier this year, and I got recognized for "All Creatures," which was very nice.
- That is sweet, yeah.
- I'm apparently much better dubbed into Turkish, (Jenelle laughs) (Callum laughs) (Anna laughs) (Susanne laughs) which is good to know.
- I would like to see the Turkish dub, know who the Turkish Samuel West is.
- Really good one.
- I've heard it.
I sound like I've smoked 40 pack a day for about 20 years, in an interview.
- And you've only been on 20 a day as well.
- Work up to it.
I mostly get recognized in the school run, but I think the people that I've spoken to...
They love that they can all watch together.
People I know watch it with their little kids, with their teenagers.
I think, (indistinct) Melissa said, there is something in there for everybody.
There are strong issues you can have a good conversation about, but you can also have a lot of fun, all of those things.
I think anyone in any household can sit down and enjoy it together, and I think that's one of the real treats about it that I keep hearing from people.
- Yeah, the center of it is relationships, whether that's family, romantic, friendship, or work, and I mean.
- It's so easy nowadays.
- Stories like that are never gonna go outta fashion.
- To do things in our own little boxes, and I think it's a show that is, perhaps not deliberately- - Looking at us all in little boxes.
- It puts us all in little boxes.
It's how we should be talking about it.
But it celebrates something that we all know exists but it's hard to put your finger on.
It's invisible, but it matters to us more than, perhaps, anything, which is community and people trying to do the decent thing in the service of animals that can't always talk.
I mean who can't always talk using words, so we have to be empathetic.
Some of them can talk.
Derek can, can't he?
- Tricki talks.
- Derek never shuts up.
- He's important, indeed, yes.
But it's is.
That, it's based on kindness and compassion not only for the animals but for one another, and at the heart of it is love, as well, which is lovely.
One of the great things I love about it is people say, "I sit down with the whole family," multigeneration, from grandparents down to kids, and everyone can sit in the same room and watch the show together, and I don't know how common that's been over the last few years or whatever, so I take a lotta pride in that.
I think that's really cool.
- I love that.
- I tried to watch an episode with my eight-year-old.
Finally got her to sit through one.
And then, the next week, I said, "That was fun last week.
D'you want to see 'All Creatures,'" and she said, "No, I've seen it."
(panelists laugh) "No, there's more.
We've done more episodes."
She said, "No, I've seen that now, thank you."
- "No, that's enough."
- That's a great review.
- "Been there.
- Well, we didn't leave her wanting, so that's encouraging.
- Exactly, yeah.
- Season three has so much joy in it, but it also has these more somber moments as the world is dealing with the onset of the war.
Melissa and Susanne, can you talk about incorporating that into season three and how you decided what the arc of the season would be?
- You know, that is what Melissa does so well with Ben Vanstone, is the two of them really decide what the arc of the season should be.
And then, I'm lucky enough to get into that conversation at some point to hear what they're thinking about for the characters and what the backdrop and the time period should be, and I think, since it is such a joyful show, to enter into this time of war, I think, was tricky in terms of deciding how it affects these six individuals and their families.
And so, I dunno, Melissa, if you wanna talk about some of the decision-making that you and Ben had.
- Sure, with this show, the series' storylines always, always start with character.
That's where we always begin, so Herriot's wonderful character's brought to life by these exceptional actors.
In season one, Ben Vanstone, our lead writer and exec, explored those characters in greater depth and gave them really interesting backstories.
That's where we always begin, and every season, therefore, presents an opportunity to tell the next chapter of their stories and their relationships, often through animal stories.
And when characters are that rich and interesting, you could tell stories about them forever and a day.
Obviously, this season's set in 1939, which is the run-up to the Second World War, and we had to keep reminding ourselves that, actually, the characters don't know what's gonna happen.
It's 20 years since the last war.
They don't know what's gonna happen, but it was such an interesting, rich opportunity to see our characters having to make choices and decisions in a world under threat and those themes of responsibility and duty.
For James, he just got married, so his responsibility's as a new husband, as a partner in the vet surgery, as a citizen, and for all our characters and also taking control of their own stories in a world they can't control.
So it was such a gift, really, and we wanted everyone year... We're hard on ourselves 'cause we care about and want it to be really good and we wanted to make the best series yet, and I guess the war gave us a couple of narrative windows to jump through.
I'll talk about two specifically.
One was, episode three, we flashback to World War I to tell a little bit of the pain that Siegfried went through in that First World War and perhaps suggesting a little of how that's impacted him, again, through an animal story.
He's such a lover of horses, so that was the story Ben told that narrative through.
And also, thinking about Mrs. Hall and her son, Edward, that episode that we all absolutely love that went out last week, I think, for you, it felt like a moment where a pending war and signing up for the navy was a moment where Edward might make contact with Mrs. Hall again.
So it was just so rich and full of such opportunities, but we were also really conscious that we didn't want that shadow of looming war to be too overbearing and that the experience of the show, I think, is what people come back for and it should still be really, really funny and have lots of Tristan being ridiculous and should have romance and wonder and pain and all those things we love about it.
So it was striking that balance, really.
- What I loved about this season is that you start with the wedding, and the wedding is such, again, a wonderful moment that James and Helen are going to come together, and of course, it has all those comedic elements of getting to the church on time.
And the other thing I really enjoyed about this season is you had made a commitment in the beginning to bring out the women characters, which wasn't really true of the books.
They weren't very developed.
And so, to have the storyline with Mrs. Hall and Edward, to have Helen coming into Skeldale House, and all of a sudden, she's in a place that isn't her home, that she doesn't control, I really enjoyed those storylines, too, for season three.
- I wanna talk a little bit specifically about some of those episodes because I'm curious, for the actors, what it's like getting to play these characters over a period of time; for example, Samuel, in episode three, we learned so much more about Siegfried, particularly his time in the first war.
Did you already have that backstory, coming into the show?
We knew he'd had a bad experience.
When you read that script- - Yes, he did.
No, I did and, in fact, from the very top.
When Brian Percival, sorry, Brian, our lead director and producer, first approached me about the part, I got, from Ben Vanstone, a two-page character note about Siegfried's backstory, and as I may've said before, it wasn't exactly a Chekhov short story, but it wasn't far off in terms of its detail.
It felt like something that was absolutely based.
I could do a timeline from it.
I could work out who was important, who was dead, who was dead and important, and really, from then on, the pleasure of doing three series has been to see those things that were always in the background rise to the surface.
And sometimes, they were seen dimly, like through tracing paper, but eventually, when the stories came, you thought, "No, as I say this, I realize it's true and always has been."
There hasn't really been anything in the backstory that has surprised me or hasn't fitted, and I think that's really down to Ben's preparation and also his instinct for what is dramatic.
The first two series, people have been delighted by the animals and charmed by the scenery, and now, we're able to go somewhere deeper, and we find that, all of those places we want to go, the show will hold your hand because of what we've set up in terms of the characters in the first two series.
And that's a real privilege as an actor 'cause you don't often get to do things for this long, and when they continue to be fun and good as well, that's a real blessing.
- Ben Vanstone calls it treasure-hunting, so reading Herriot's books, there'll often be a reference to something, and he'll say, "Oh, hang on.
What's the story behind that?"
And I think, with Siegfried, in the books, it's all there.
He's such a complex wonderful character, and I think the question Ben asked is "what happened to him?"
So as Sam says, when Ben unpacked that backstory, it makes perfect sense of the character that you're presented with in the book.
- Well, I was recently rewatching the first episode, and I was thinking, Callum, we've really seen Tristan grow up in the last three seasons.
Did you anticipate that transformation?
There's a moment in season three where he's cleaning the surgery room, and it's such a switch from season one.
It was kind of jarring.
(laughs) - Yeah, it's incredible.
I think we always said that James coming in was such a huge benefit for Tristan as well as James, I think, because we've always said they balanced each other out.
Tristan helped James go to the pub, maybe, (laughs) and let-his-hair-down type of thing, and James lit that fire under Tristan a bit more, rather than it just always being about "well, I'm doing this because that's what Siegfried has said I'm doing next."
I think James makes it more of a passion, rather than a checklist of things, or whatever, that he has to do, but yeah, his transformation, yeah, I certainly didn't see it coming from the first couple of episodes.
I knew, obviously, he was gonna grow up but not into the sort of guy that he has, yeah.
- By the way, I know this has been pointed out before, but I just have to say kudos to the casting director because, Callum and Samuel, you really do look like brothers.
- Yeah, that's the other thing that, actually, people say if we stopped.
- Yes, they do say that, don't they?
- "I really believe the brotherly relationship."
- One of the things we had to work out was how on earth he could be, 'cause, if Cal plays a little bit older and I play a little bit younger, we can just about be 19 years apart.
And series three is the one where we make sense of that gap, and it all adds up, which is really satisfying.
- Anna, season three, the reunion I think we've all been waiting for between Mrs. Hall and her son, Edward, what was your reaction when your read this episode?
It's such an intense episode.
Was it ever challenging for you to shoot it?
- Yeah, I loved it when I read it.
In a way, it's a lot of what Sam said in terms of... Mrs. Hall isn't in the books much, but the character that was written from the get-go had such integrity.
It felt like it had all been thought out, so as that story came out, again, it made absolute sense.
You didn't feel like you were having to negotiate anything.
It was a beautiful script; I think everyone felt that, all the crew as well as us as actors; and beautifully balanced, as well, I think, with having Tristan at home cooking the sausages in my pinny.
That was really lovely.
And then, it was a really wonderful challenge as an actor to have that meeting with the character that we've talked about for a long time and I was really excited to meet as an actor and Mrs. Hall has been desperate to meet, for three-more-plus years.
So it was a really exciting wonderful challenge and a lotta fun to do.
The filming on the train station with an enormous steam train and a lotta pigeons was a really fun week.
It was great, so yeah, it was a real privilege to have that storyline.
It was great.
- And they do it (indistinct).
- And I've always wanted to do a Skeldale meal.
- Oh, sorry, go on, you talk about your mashed potato.
- And you did it beautifully.
My little pot of flowers.
- You did do it beautifully.
- When I got home.
- Arranged it beautifully.
Made me so happy.
- Your personal shepherd's pie.
- My personal shepherd's pie, yeah.
- Just to pick out something that Melissa said.
With Edward and Mrs. Hall, this was a scene that could've taken place earlier, but I remember Melissa saying to me so often that Ben and she were looking at episodes and even series sometimes and saying, "You know what?
That can wait" or "That can be later" or "There's too much in this episode.
We're trying to do too much."
And that is such a privilege.
The drama in episode one, season on, is that a cow may give birth to a stillborn calf, and that's all you need.
If you'd tried to do another bit of story to try and make it more dramatic.
It wouldn't have worked.
It would've burst, so the pleasure of being able to put these things off and eventually cash that check in the third series is really considerable, I think.
- And it was lovely, I felt, because the meeting with Edward in episode five felt like it came at the right time in the world.
It made absolute sense that that was the moment at which that meeting that could've been put off and put off and put off then had to happen.
There was a real urge from both of them to make that meeting happen, and that it came from Edward was a wonderful thing for Mrs. Hall, so again, that thing of it being at the right time in the whole world of our show was fantastic.
- And Anna, the director kept you apart from the actor playing Edward, didn't he?
- He did, yeah.
I texted Conor, saying, "D'you want to have a beer and say hello?"
'cause I thought it would be nice to get to know him a bit, and Andy said, "No, no, no, d'you mind waiting?"
'Cause I was thinking, "Well, she'd known her little boy from when back when," but it was really interesting, actually, thinking, "Well, actually, she hasn't seen him."
He arrives in his naval uniform.
She hasn't seen this young man, so it really heightened that sense of...
They've had this time apart.
They don't know each other.
They don't know who it is that's gonna...
They might have an idea of who this person's gonna be that they're gonna meet, but for Mrs. Hall, she meets with a man who's a little bit... Well, he's a young man now, rather than the grown-up boy that she left behind.
So that was very lovely.
The other wonderful thing Andy did was he managed to schedule a lot of it in sequence, so as we filmed, we didn't have to film the last scene before the beginning.
He worked all that choreography out on the train station.
And then, we could do it, so in a way, we were able to play the emotional journey from beginning to end, which was a real luxury as an actor.
You don't always get to do that.
That was really wonderful, a real gift to us as actors, to have that.
- And Nicholas, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that this is your first on-camera job ever when you booked this series.
(laughs) Going back and looking at where character began, thrust into this world with all these wonderful people, d'you relate to how far you've both come in the last three seasons?
- Yeah, yeah.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
I'd been to drama school, and I did a lotta theater and things, but this was my first telly job.
But it was brilliant 'cause you were surrounded by this wonderful cast who couldn't be more helpful day to day.
And you know, when you're working, everyone says it's the perfect way to start out, because the learning curve you're on is like that because you have to be.
You're working pretty much...
I think I had two days off or something, but it was amazing, and likewise, as you say, James, he's grown into himself a lot more.
He fills out his vets' coat a little more now, and he's now partner of the practice, and he's also a husband now, so there's a lot more pressure on him, as well, a lot more responsibility, a lot more pressure.
He's bringing in money for two now and thinking about their future together.
He also has a responsibility to Siegfried and to the practice, the man that gave him his start in this part of his life.
So yeah, he's growing up in front of our very eyes.
- Speaking of characters we keep discovering new sides of, Rachel, so many changes for this season, good changes, but I think I heard recently that you've actually been in contact with Alf Wight's children and they helped guide your performance.
- Yeah, really lucky.
We were introduced to Jim and Rosie Wight at the start of this journey at season one, and they were super gracious in sharing their stories and anecdotes and things with us.
And then, I clung on to that relationship.
With Rosie, I always joke that I'm sure she'll block my number eventually, but I do call her every season to tell her where Helen is in her life and what's going on.
And then, she usually tells me a little bit about her mum and what she either remembers or can tell me about that phase of her life, as well, and it's a bit of a peep behind the curtain.
Similarly to Mrs. Hall's character, really, we learnt about Helen in the books through James, so we never really got to discover who she is, so I guess I've... Yeah, that's been a privilege, to invent that bit with the help of Rosie, yeah.
- And they came to the filming of the wedding, as well.
I don't know if you want to talk about that, Rachel.
- Yes, that was lovely.
- I called them up and said, "How would you like to come and attend your own parents' wedding?"
And they were thrilled to come.
Perhaps you wanna talk about that.
- Can you see them in the episode?
- I don't think so.
- No, they're sitting in the choir stalls, watching.
It was really emotional.
I was sitting behind them.
They were sitting together in the choir stalls, quite close to Helen and James exchanging vows.
They were so moved, and Rosie had quite a few tears.
It was very emotional, I think, for them.
- It's amazing.
Of course, we have to talk about the costars that steal the show, which is the animals.
I wanna learn how method you all are.
We have a question from Isaac.
He's age seven, and he's from Colorado.
He wants to know: "Do any of the actors have pets of their own?
And if so, which kind?"
- I'm gonna start that 'cause we've got the newest one.
We've just got two white kittens.
(Jenelle gasps) - Oh wow.
- Oh my goodness.
- Called Annette and Briar.
- Are they there?
- No, they're not.
They're kept out of this room for the moment 'cause they destroy everything.
(panelists laugh) I have a friend who said, "You're a metropolitan liberal-elite fool."
I said, "Yes."
"So you always have rescue cats."
I said, "Guilty."
She said, "That's great, but the children never get to play with kittens."
"True," I said: "Sad, but true."
"Well, I've got two rescue kittens for you," she said.
So I completely walked into it and wasn't (indistinct) to say no, and now, we have two white kittens.
- Hey, Rosie.
- Hi, Rosie.
- Hello, Rosie.
- That's Rosie?
- Why's she going that way?
- 'Cause you're talking to her.
This is Rosie, my dog.
- Hello, Rosie.
- I'll see if I can get... - Rosie can sometimes be found in the makeup truck when we're shooting.
- I was wondering if she comes to the set.
- I'm going on the move now.
- Go on, Cal.
- Everyone has to show off their animals now.
I started say dogs, sorry.
- I'm asking for mine now.
- Nicholas, what about for you?
- No, no, unfortunately, but I get to hang out with all these guys.
Ralph, I'm sure, is about to make an appearance.
That's Cal's dog.
And Rosie, of course.
And I can't wait to meet the kittens.
- I think it's good because then the animals on the show know that you don't belong to anyone else, Nick.
They can sense you're available.
- I was responsible for getting a rat onto the show, though.
- I did see that.
Yes, you'd been trying to do that from the start.
- That's because of my fondness for rats in the past.
I now have children instead.
- Wait, who's this?
- Here he is.
- Here we are.
- That was like Simba.
(Jenelle speaks indistinctly) - I'm gonna have to introduce another white...
This is Annette.
(Jenelle gasps) - Aw.
- Oh hello.
- There's a white-pet theme.
There's a color scheme going on here.
- What's going on?
- You all right?
- I wish I had a teddy bear or something I could hold up.
I don't even have that.
- Aw, Jenelle, who's that?
- Yeah, this is Wilbur.
He just wants to say hi.
(Susanne laughs) - He's a theater dog.
Found him outside my theater and said I was not going to keep him.
That was six years ago.
- No way.
- Still thinking about it.
- That's so cool.
- Rachel and Callum, your dogs look alike.
- They do look very alike, yeah.
They were hugging each other the last time that they met.
- They were good friends, yeah.
They're good friends.
- I admire your skill in still talking even though you're having your nose licked.
- Do you like that?
- Special skills.
- I learned it all on the job.
- But Sam.
- Cast get on well.
The cast animals get on well.
- I heard there were two rats and that you know the difference, which is your rat and the stand-in rat.
- Yes, because they're mink-hooded, so they have slightly different-shaped saddles, and to non-rat-fanciers, they look the same.
But I'm used to looking at rats in detail, and I can tell them apart.
We have one who's slightly more sedentary, and that's the one you choose if you want to have a shot of them being where they need to be.
And we have one that's more active, and that's the one you choose if you want to see him, or her playing him, going all around her cage.
- What're their names?
- They don't have names at the moment.
I wanted to call them Cheap and Nasty.
- We should name them.
- But they wouldn't have it.
- They're mine now.
(panelists laugh) - I think I read... - Perhaps we should ask.
Perhaps people should be allowed to... 'Cause, obviously, the hero rat is called Volonel, which is a difficult name, and that's already taken.
But neither of the rats who play Volonel have, I think, names at the moment, so perhaps we should.
- You should have a naming contest.
- Why not?
- Yeah, Isaac from Colorado can send some suggestions in.
- Exactly, yeah.
- Yes, Isaac.
- Young Isaac, give us two names.
- And Anna, I heard that, unlike your character, Mrs. Hall, you're actually quite fond of these rats.
- Me, oh, I was really surprised by them, yeah.
I've only ever seen the big ones that you see in the London parks.
You wouldn't let them near you.
Certainly wouldn't let them near your child.
So yeah, Sam educated me in the loveliness of the rat.
- There we are.
- Staying on this topic, Don from San Diego wants to know: "What's been one of the most challenging scenes with your animal costars?"
not counting humans, I assume.
(laughs) - Well, I always have a really easy time 'cause I have loopy Jess and then Bailey, who's lovely, shy Bailey who plays Rock, and now, I've got Dash, who's also gorgeous.
So I have a very easy time.
They sometimes go for a swim in the river, but I just sit and drink tea while they have their swim, so it's not stressful.
- Except that scene that we did in season one, Anna, when I was in the office and there was the mix-up of the cats, the first or second episode - First day, yeah, almost.
- And every time you came round, you had to carry two cats.
Every time you came round the corner, it was like the big reveal where the cats would be.
- Well, Sam's now gonna learn how hard it is to carry two cats.
- I've just done that.
- (indistinct) be here on your back.
And then, the next time you appeared, you only had one cat, and one had just left the building.
- We agreed to part on friendly terms.
- It's always the cats, isn't it?
- Yeah, just cats.
- And trainers.
- (indistinct) with cats.
- Apart from my well-publicized troubles with cows, which continue in series three.
I have to big up Mark and Ben Atkinson's horses.
They are the opposite.
- Oh, they're astonishing.
- It's like working with Ferraris.
They're quite extraordinary.
I'm no expert watching somebody like...
I rode a horse called Malik that Ben Atkinson...
If you don't know who Ben Atkinson is, look him up.
Watch him work with liberty horses.
If there is a horse whisperer in the world, it's Ben.
I worked with a horse that he'd had since it was five weeks old, and I was used to riding school horses where I really had to, sometimes, kick or, at least, squeeze a few times to go into a trot.
And I remember, at one point, pulling in my stomach muscles on Malik, and he went, "Oh, we're trotting," and went away, and I thought, "This is what they write about.
This is this wordless communication that you can have with a beautifully trained horse," and it makes you feel like a much better rider.
But actually, it's not you.
It's just a fantastic horse.
- We have a question here that's a bit of a deep cut, but I'm very curious.
Mary-Jean from Harrisburg wants to know: "There's a scene when Mrs. Pumphrey says she's thinking about planting celery and Tristan say, 'Don't do that.
I can't stand celery.'
Was this a sly reference to Callum's predecessor in the role, Peter Davison, who always wore a stalk of celery on his lapel as the fifth Doctor Who?"
- I know, right?
- Yes, it was.
(laughs) - I wish that was the case.
- My suggestion.
- Is your mind kinda blown?
Because that (indistinct).
Wow, that's amazing.
Amazing knowledge, wow.
- I don't know if the writer's got a predilection for celery or not, but I think that's rather brilliant that you've come up with that.
I don't think that was the intention, but I love the thought of it.
- Knowing that now, Callum, would you go back and do the line differently?
- Oh yeah, I'd give it so much.
I'd overact it to death, yeah.
I'd wink to the camera.
- You'll wink to camera.
- Yeah, yeah, absolutely, that's it, yeah.
- You could've worn some celery, couldn't you?
- We have a question from Cheryl from Nashville.
She wants to know what you all like most and least about your character, and let's start with Rachel.
- Oh, oh, what do I like the most about her?
Her wardrobe's pretty good.
(indistinct) I like her integrity.
She does the right thing all the time.
I really like that.
What do I like least about... Urgh, argh.
She takes a lot on, spins too many plates, probably, sometimes compromises herself, I guess, so I would say that, but that's really difficult.
I like her, so that's hard.
- Nicholas, for you?
- Yeah, difficult.
I really like how patient James is, and he has so much compassion, but at the same time, he has a backbone.
You know, he's willing to stand up for himself and, especially, for the animals, as we saw, episode three of season one, regarding the horse.
I really like that about him.
What do I not...
It's not something I dislike, but he does need the occasional push from the likes of Tristan, Helen.
And sometimes, I read the script, and I'm like, "Come on, James.
(Callum laughs) Get stuck in, lad."
(laughs) But it's not something I dislike.
- Samuel, for you?
- There's that rule about acting of look for the opposite.
I've always liked the fact that Siegfried, who has such a short temper sometimes, can be very patient with animals, so I like his kindness and love, particularly towards horses.
I find his disapproval of things very frustrating sometimes.
He gets grumpy, and that's hard because he also wants to be modern and approving of things, but he's so controlling.
It's a fascinatingly layered character, least on paper.
- By the way, I heard that your animal costar in episode three is a really accomplished actor, that the horse has appeared in "Poldark" and "Victoria."
Were you intimidated by... - What, more experienced actors than me?
No, I try not to be.
- Yeah, apparently.
- I've had (indistinct) long experiencive.
They're so well-trained you have to not say action around them, because they start to move, so the firsts say, "So, here we go," in the rehearsal; otherwise, the horse just (snaps) is off.
- And Anna, for you, your favorite and least favorite thing about Mrs. Hall?
- Oh gosh, Mrs. Hall's warm heart and her sense of fun.
I think she's love for everybody and a dish for everybody at her table.
Gosh, I don't know there's anything I dislike about her, particularly.
Her tights and skirts, I don't particularly like those, personally.
- The aprons are good, though.
- Her clothes had a bit of give to them would be nice.
Very stiff clothes in the '30s.
- Callum, for you?
- I like how Tristan is so optimistic, you know?
He won't let anything get him down for too long.
He'll always dust himself off and crack on.
I think that's a really good quality that Tristan has.
In terms of dislike, probably the amount that Tristan eats, just because it made for really tough viewing for me afterwards, watching myself look like that much of a pig on screen.
I mean, that all checks out.
Tristan, that is exactly what he feels about food, but watching it's tough.
- But the food looks so good.
Who can blame you?
- It is.
That's the problem.
- It is so good.
- Really good.
- Really is.
- Continuity is completely screwed 'cause we just keep (indistinct) of sequence 'cause it's so nice.
- Normally, you sort of eat round the plate on set 'cause you find the smallest bit you can eat, but on this one, we're more than happy to tuck in.
- Forgive me if I mispronounce anyone's name, by the way.
I believe it's Anakie from Sperryville, Virginia, wants to know: "Is there a practical joker on set?
And if so, what are some of the jokes?
And the animals don't count."
- Oh, I was about to say Derek, as well.
- Nick and I have a recurring gag where he brings up a prop, and in a sort of Agatha Christie-style detective voice, says, "Perhaps this will refresh your memory."
And then, I do it to him, and the longer and more obscene the prop the better the gag.
- That bears no remembrance to anything.
- No, no, nothing at all, just comes out of nowhere.
- Anyone else?
Is it ever hard not to break during scenes?
There are some very funny moments.
I'd be that person who'd be afraid of ruining the take.
- If Anna goes, then I can't resist.
- Yes, I think, if Anna goes.
- Never go.
- We've all gone.
- I'm so pro.
I would never go, Nick.
- I think it takes a lot to set Anna off, but once she's gone, you may as well just send her home.
- You might as well have lunch, yeah.
- For Anna, I think- - Not coming back.
- It's true, I'm afraid.
- It starts in her feet and reverberates all the way up her body until it actually comes out.
That's why it's- - I'm learning something here.
- We also have a question from Isabelle from Texas, who wants to know: "What do you all like to do in between filming scenes?"
- Have a cup of tea.
- Hang out.
- Eat some of the delicious snacks that they make for us back, not backstage, behind the scenes.
- Sounds like the food on set is really... You got food and animals.
This is a dream job.
- And there's a gorgeous little dog on the costume truck I like to go and play with.
- I was just about to say.
- Yeah, Rudy.
- Yeah, Rudy's really big now.
- Is he big?
- Yeah, there's always an animal to go and hang out with.
- All grown up.
If you're ever looking for Callum, between scenes, you can't find him, won't be in his trailer.
Won't be in the greenroom.
You'll unpick a number of dogs, and he'll be somewhere underneath them, just being licked, always.
- That is true.
- That's my favorite (indistinct).
- There are a lot of animals that belong to the crew, as well, so there's the on-set, acting animals.
And then, there's a lotta people them.
We're surrounded by dogs and ducks and chickens and all sorts.
- The best.
- They get to bring their- - Callum's right in there.
- Yes, every day is bring-a-pet-to-work day.
You know you're going to get a nice reception on set.
- That scene in episode one with the wedding where Tristan wakes up on the sofa with Jess licking his face, when we shooting that, what did they put on your face, Cal?
At the end of it, you said, "Oh, this is."
- "The best-ever day at work."
- Cheese paste, yeah.
They put a load of cheese paste on my cheek.
- Callum was saying, "Put more on.
Put more on."
- That was dedication that day.
- It was.
- Not everyone woulda been that keen, but you couldn't.
- It's your ideal scene.
- Get enough of it.
- It was literally my ideal scene.
- Callum covered in cheese.
- Licked awake by a dog, a lovely dog, yeah, perfect.
- It's so good, that "I'm a married woman."
- (laughs) Yeah, that was it, yeah.
- I was surprised to learn from the animal trainer, Jill Clark, that the dogs are really her dogs that she trained but also her pets, so Derek is a pet.
- Derek plays Tricki Woo.
- Well, if Derek was an independent actor, we couldn't afford him, so it's a good job he is a pet, really.
- She does have a kitchenful of about 15 dogs or something.
- A lot of vacuuming.
- We have a question from Minnie from Seattle.
This is actually for the producers: "We say season three takes a different approach to storytelling.
Siegfried has his flashback.
Mrs. Hall took a trip outside to see her son.
Will we be seeing more of that in the future?"
I think this is a coy way of asking what's gonna happen in season four.
- Can't tell you what's gonna happen in season four.
I think it's always about serving the story.
We felt that the show and the format were strong enough that we could do something different.
It's always serving the story.
That story of telling some of Siegfried's narrative and what happens to him, it felt really natural that we actually showed it on screen, so that's where that came from.
And then, actually, the Edward-and-Mrs. Hall story, as, I think, Sam alluded to earlier, Ben Vanstone actually wrote the Edward-Mrs. Hall reunion in the Christmas episode of series two, and there just wasn't space to tell it properly, so he took it out, and we thought we'd save it.
As the script was developed for episode five of this season, it just became apparent that it was the lead story, and actually, it's unusual because it's the only A story, the lead story, we've ever told on the show that doesn't contain an animal.
But it felt like that story had been earnt, and we just wanted to have space and time for them to have what was a very long important conversation, so it was just led by the needs of the story.
- I love that.
And finally, we have a question from Heather from Blue Ridge, Virginia.
Wants to know from the actors: "When were you first introduced to 'All Creatures Great and Small'?
Was it the James Herriot books when you were younger?
Or the early PBS series?"
And she just wants to add: "Thank you for bringing such a sweet and joy and peace to our Sunday nights here in Virginia."
- Hmm, thank you.
- Aw, what a pleasure.
- Thank you.
- Let's start with Samuel.
When did you first- - Loo books when I was a child.
In fact, thanks to the success they'd had in America- - Really?
- Well, because they weren't hugely popular when they were first published in Britain, and they did very, very well in the '70s as a combined volume.
And that's what provoked the film, the first television film, which is why there was a 1970s series, which is probably why there was a 2020s one.
So we have America to thank for the success of the stories, but yeah, I grew up with them in the loo 'cause all the chapters are short enough to read during an average visit to the bathroom.
(Jenelle laughs) Perfect (indistinct).
- And Anna, for you?
- I remember the theme tune from childhood, but really, Ben Vanstone introduced me properly, meeting for Mrs. Hall, and I didn't know who she was and got stuck in and then started reading them and absolutely loved them.
So thanks to this series, really, I know more than a wonderful tune.
- Yeah, similar, really, I'd read one book when I was younger, so I was roughly familiar with the world, but this has immersed me in it again, and I reread the books, and they were wonderful, yeah.
- Callum, for you?
- Yeah, same, this, yeah, getting the audition through and reading the scripts and then, after getting it, going and reading the books and absolutely loving them, yeah, yeah.
- And Nicholas?
- Yeah, likewise, this job and then subsequently reading the books during prep and things.
And now I've done the audiobooks as well, so I know the books inside out, upside down, back to front, page to page.
- That's actually really useful for the rest of the cast now.
We all have, I think, read the ones that we've adapted so far and some of the others, but if we want really close knowledge of the books, we have to go to Nick 'cause he's done them on audiobook, so he knows them better than we do.
- And I may have the answers.
- I love it.
Susanne and Melissa, what about for you?
How did you first become acquainted with this story?
- Well, I know of it from the series, not the original books, but of course, when we decided we were going to do this, I went and read one of the books just to get a feel for it.
So that's how I was introduced, really through the PBS series.
- Well, my parents-in-law actually used to live up in the Dales.
It's one of the most beautiful places, if ever you'd get a chance to go.
They had some of the books, so I'd read the first book years ago and watched some of the series as a child and loved it and then, for this show, read the rest of them.
And they really are...
The thing we tried to do and what Ben's writing so brilliantly does is capture the spirit and the feeling of the books.
They do make you laugh and make you cry and make you feel better, and they're so enjoyable.
That's what we tried to capture as the experience for the audience.
- Yeah, one of the things that Ben has said is that the books have a lot of scenes with cows and that one of the things he's had to do is pull different stories about different animals further along in the books so that he could vary having cows and sheep and other animals.
Lots of cows in the book, yeah.
- We've have sometimes changed a story to another animal but always phoning Jim Wight and asking him 'cause he's also a vet, retired now but worked with his dad, so we have to run it past Jim and say, "Could this be a pig or a horse or something?"
- Or a rat.
- It would all be cows.
(Jenelle speaks indistinctly) - Rat.
- Rat, yep.
- Actual, Samuel, why did you want rats so badly?
- Well, I thought they would make a very good story for somebody to bring them in.
They were rare as pets in the 1930s but not impossible, and I thought that's what would happen 'cause I can handle a rat and I can clip its nails.
I've always been fans of them.
But then, they gave me one that I'd (laughs) won in a drinking contest.
And so, now, it's a permanent member of the cast.
I mean, I just think they... We have a weird hierarchy of small rodents in Britain that hamsters and guinea pigs are above rats, and I'm gonna annoy a lot of people now by saying that I don't think they deserve to be.
I've never been bitten by one.
Mine learnt their names and would come when they were called.
I've had five.
They don't live very long.
That's the only thing about them, but otherwise, they're the perfect pets.
- And do you clip the nails of the rats on the show?
Oh, in this.
Not so far, but I will do if you ask me to.
(Jenelle laughs) (Callum laughs) - Well, again, I wanna thank you all for such a joyous wonderful series.
Thank you all so so much for being here.
- Thanks, Jenelle.
- Thank you.
- Thank you.
- Thanks for inviting us.
- Thanks - Thank you.
- For the lovely questions.
- Thank you to the audience for all your support and for watching the show.
- Hear, hear.