all creatures great and small cast

Nicholas Ralph talks 'All Creatures'

We were lucky enough to have a chat with Nicholas Ralph, who is playing trainee vet James Herriot in Channel 5’s new adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small. Set in the Yorkshire Dales, this historic drama sounds like the feel-good show we’ve been waiting for.

Tune into the first episode on Tuesday 1st September at 9pm on Channel 5, and read on to find out more from the star himself...

Firstly, how would you describe All Creatures Great and Small to someone who's never seen it? 

Set in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s, All Creatures Great and Small follows vets and the people of the local community and their animals through their daily lives. The stories are warm charming and full of wit, they will have you laughing out loud one minute and can really touch you in the next. 

Have you read the original books? If so, were you a fan? 

I have read the books and absolutely love them. The stories are timeless that's why the books haven't been out of print in 50 years and have sold over 60 million copies worldwide. The characters are so three-dimensional and the relationships are so strong that you can't help but turn the page to find out what's happening next to these people and their animals. 

nicholas ralph as james herriot


What drew you to the role of James Herriot?  

Firstly, it was an incredible opportunity and an absolute dream role. James is a young vet who moves from Glasgow to the small fictional village of Darrowby in the Yorkshire Dales. He has such compassion for the animals and their owners and such passion for the work and intelligence. During the audition process I thought I had an instinctive idea of James and how I would perhaps go about playing him, there were similar aspects of my own personality that I could see in James. He is such a multifaceted character and we see him in a multitude of situations it's a real rollercoaster for James and that's just such fun to play as an actor. 

What was it like filming in the Yorkshire Dales? 

The Yorkshire Dales are absolutely stunning. I've told everyone you have to see it to believe it. We would be dropped off on locations and look around us in 360° and you could shoot in any which way because it was really that beautiful. And the people were so lovely and accommodating there seem to be a real buzz around. 

They say never work with children or animals – how did you find working with the animals on set? 

The animals were a joy to work with from day one. They were so well-trained that we were instantly put to ease and we joked that the only time we finished on schedule was when animals were present, and they were more reliable than humans! We also had a consultant vet on hand Andy Barrett whose knowledge and expertise were priceless, I would always make a beeline for him whenever working with the animals. We also had an independent animal welfare officer on set ensuring the animals were treated with respect and dignity. 

all creatures great and small bull


Do you have any funny or interesting stories from filming? 

We were introduced to a lovely little Pekinese dog who played Tricki Woo, a little fluffy guy, his tail would flick in the air as he paraded around. And we found out his name was Derek which took us by surprise because he really didn't seem like a Derek, but he was brilliant to work with. You would be in a scene and maybe say, “How are you doing today then Tricki”, and he would reply with this little grumble that was so funny and is used in the series, he had everyone on set laughing, his comic timing was impeccable! 

Do you think you would’ve made a good vet? 

I joke that the reason I decided to become an actor was because I couldn't choose one career so I decided to pick something that would allow me to be many things. I've absolutely loved playing a vet, but I think I'll leave it to the professionals. 

Do you have a favourite childhood pet you could tell us about? Do you have any pets now?  

My back garden where I grew up led onto a field so I was quite used to being around the farm animals, cows and sheep, funnily enough. I only had one childhood pet who was a lovely little guinea pig that we named Nip because she would nibble and nip the ends of your fingers. 

If you were an animal, what animal would you be? 

What an interesting question. People joke that I'm a little bird like so perhaps one of our feathered friends, but I would prefer maybe a cheetah, that would be cool! 

helen and nicholas in all creatures great and small


Last week we asked your co-star Rachel Shenton about a hypothetical gender bending situation, in which she played James and you played Helen, she laughed and said you’d have to toughen up! Would you agree? 

Haha absolutely, she parades a two ton bull around who is the size of a shed with complete ease while I'm up standing on a wall, and I'm very happy on that wall.

Are you working on any other projects we should look out for? 

I'm currently in Bulgaria filming a horror thriller for Lionsgate. It's set in a school for exorcists and will be out in cinemas next year. 

Finally, what’re you watching right now?  

I'm currently watching Succession which is brilliant, and I also started Community for easy viewing that's a great laugh. I love Christopher Nolan's work and can’t wait to see his new movie Tenant when I’m back in the UK. 

For another look behind the scenes, check out our interview with Rachel Shenton, who co-stars along with Nicholas as Helen, a tough local farmers daughter. All Creatures Great and Small starts on Tuesday 1st September at 9pm on Channel 5 – will you be watching along with us?