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Show offers some creature comforts for Nairn actor Nicholas Ralph as he looks forward to filming second series of All Creatures Great and Small

By Ian Duncan

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James Herriot played by Nicholas Ralph.
James Herriot played by Nicholas Ralph.

Nairn’s rising star, actor Nicholas Ralph, is looking forward to filming the next series of All Creatures Great and Small next month.

One of the breakthrough hits of last year, the reboot of the show, based on the stories by vet James Herriot, has been well-received both in the UK and abroad.

Ralph plays the lead role, and he says he could not have wished for a better start to his career.

“It was not a bad first gig – no, not at all,” he said. “It was a fantastic opportunity.

“The way it has been received and everything [else positive about it], I don’t think we could have asked for much more really. To get to this point, I’ve been doing it for 10 years – [so I’m] a 10-year overnight success!”

It is filmed on location in the Yorkshire Dales, and the cast and crew were given a warm welcome from the locals – but there was also added pressure.

Nicholas Ralph learning his lines on set.
Nicholas Ralph learning his lines on set.

“There’s obviously a massive fanbase out there off the back of a very successful series in the 1970s and 1980s,” Ralph said.

“When we were filming it in the Dales a lot of people said ‘we are so excited, we think it’s been far too long since All Creatures Great and Small was made’, but it always came with a caveat of don’t muck it up. We knew it had to be right, or people would be annoyed.”

The 30-year-old actor, who now lives in London after moving from Glasgow, says he was looking forward to working on the new series, adding: “I can’t wait. We just had such a ball making it.

“The cast and the crew across the board, everyone was just top notch, and you needed that as well, because we filmed in winter in the Dales, so you had long, cold, dark days, so you really needed people that are in good spirits, and people really helped each other through it.

“Because we finished in January, and then everything kicked off with Covid, we haven’t really seen each other – nobody has seen each other – so it will be just such a joy to see everyone, and get back to making a second series.

“We will be filming in spring and summer, so it will be slightly sunnier, and it is lambing season, so maybe we will get some lambs in there as well.”

Nicolas Ralph with co-stars Matthew Lewis and Rachel Shenton.
Nicolas Ralph with co-stars Matthew Lewis and Rachel Shenton.

Pandemic-related protocols will be in place, such as social distancing and regular Covid testing, to help keep the cast and crew safe when cameras start rolling again in early March.

Despite his character being Scottish, Ralph was required to have some vocal coaching, which he took in his stride.

“I don’t think my accent is particularly thick anyway, I think it is fairly understandable, so I was blindsided by it, but I am more than happy to do these sort of things – you have got to please everyone – and it was because it was going to the United States, they sometimes struggle with Scottish accents. I was more than happy to do it.”

The show was praised in a recent review in Rolling Stone magazine, which Ralph also found surprising.

“That was brilliant – Rolling Stone is not something you associate with All Creatures Great and Small,” he said.

“This guy said it was not his usual cup of tea, but he was bowled over by it.

“With everything that is going on in the world. I think he said something along the lines of gentle warm drama is the new radical these days.”

He says part of the appeal of the show is that it provided some comfort in the tough times we are experiencing at the moment, adding: “I think it is just harking back to simpler times of the 1930s. It is really your community and helping out your neighbour, I think it is the simplicity of it as well. It is high stakes in its own way, and on top of that you have this material that is so rich, warm and witty.”

As well as his TV work, he has also worked on two films – a horror thriller called The Devil’s Light, and The Most Reluctant Convert, where he plays the role of author CS Lewis.

He said: “That is almost finished, that will be ready in a few weeks’ time, and they are looking for buyers, it is going out as a TV movie in the States – it was made by an American production company.”

He says that in this country the BBC, as well as a few other channels, are also interested, and he was really excited about it, adding: “I’ve seen a wee trailer, and it is all looking great.”

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