Masterpiece's 'All Creatures Great and Small' returns for season 2

Jan. 6—It's a quiet evening in England.

Nicholas Ralph is taking the day easy as he's a tad bit tired from getting his COVID booster shot the day before.

"It's a good thing," he says. "We've had to take all kinds of precautions in life. This is just the latest one."

Ralph is excited about getting the opportunity to jump into James Herriot's shoes again in the second season of the Masterpiece series, "All Creatures Great and Small." The show premieres in the United States at 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9, on New Mexico PBS, channel 5.1. New episodes air at 8 p.m. Sunday through Feb. 20.

Ralph returns as James Herriot, a young veterinarian from Scotland who moves to Yorkshire, England, to take a job in a local veterinary practice in the farming town of Darrowby.

The cast also features Samuel West as Herriot's charismatic but eccentric boss, Siegfried Farnon; Callum Woodhouse as Farnon's womanizing and carefree younger brother, Tristan; Anna Madeley as Mrs. Hall, the wise and compassionate housekeeper who becomes a surrogate mother to the three men in her charge; and Rachel Shenton as the independent-minded and alluring farmer Helen Alderson who becomes the focus of James' attention.

Matthew Lewis also returns as Helen's former fiance, Hugh Hulton. Patricia Hodge joins the cast as Mrs. Pumphrey, owner of the overly indulged Pekingese Tricki Woo. The role of the doting dog-owner was played by the late Dame Diana Rigg in season one. It was Rigg's last on-screen role in a career spanning more than 60 years, before her death in September 2020.

The climax of season one saw Helen call off her impending wedding to wealthy landowner Hugh, having developed a close friendship with James over the course of the first season.

After working hard to become accepted by the local farmers and prove himself indispensable, Siegfried made James a senior vet in the Skeldale House veterinary practice.

Following years of half-hearted effort, Tristan believed he had finally passed his veterinary exams. Siegfried, however, learned that Tristan failed once again, but didn't have the heart to tell him. Meanwhile, Mrs. Hall was heartbroken when she was unable to reconnect with her estranged son.

As season two opens, Herriot returns from Glasgow, Scotland, where he has been visiting his parents for Easter. While there he is offered a job at a modern local veterinary practice and must decide between staying home in Glasgow with his elderly parents or returning to his new life in Yorkshire.

"This is something he's really fancied for himself," Ralph says of his character new job. "His parents really like having him back. There's a push and pull to the season, which is really great because you see James having to make some decisions."

Ralph and his castmates filmed the second season during many lockdowns.

The first half of filming was done isolated from others when off set.

"We were up in our rooms rehearsing by ourselves," Ralph says. "It had just been me and my flat mate for a long time. What also makes this season special is that the majority of the crew came back. On the clap board for season two, it had the name of the same director and director of photography. We all know how rare this is for a production. It started off special.

The series has already been released in United Kingdom and it has been welcomed back by audiences.

Ralph is hoping that the series will once again be embraced in the states.

"The story is a way to escape," he says. "We've been through two very weird years. Being able to see James' journey is something that puts a smile on people's faces. I'm honored that I get to step into those shoes and make something great happen. Let's hope we continue this journey."


The second season of "All Creatures Great and Small" premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9, on New Mexico PBS, channel 5.1.