All Creatures Great and Small star Rachel Shenton ‘refused’ to watch original series

All Creatures Great and Small: Season two's happy ending

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All Creatures Great and Small was originally made in 1974 and aired on the BBC for 12 years. The Channel 5 adaptation of the Yorkshire TV series first began in 2020 and saw Samuel West take on the role of Siegfried Farnon. Rachel Shenton, who plays Helen Alderson, recently opened up about how she prepared for the show and admitted to not watching the original series.

The heartfelt series is set in 1937 and is based upon a series of books about a Yorkshire veterinarian written by Alf Wight under the pen name of James Herriot.

Touching on the discussions she had about playing Helen, Rachel admitted that there was a lot of contact with Alf’s children.

She explained to and other press: “Joan and Alf are no longer with us, but we do have their children, but what was freeing in a way was that in the first adaptation from the books, we learnt about Helen through James.

“It is all from his perspective, so you don’t actually see Helen in the books, I never watched the BBC adaptation, and when this came around, I chose not to

“We never see her in the books, so I have an amazing relationship with Rosie (Wight), who has been so gracious about giving me information on her mum.

“And I actually think they are a bit sick of me, but she has been great, and we have pieced it together,” she said at the BFI and Radio Times Television Festival.

Tristan Farnon actor Callum Woodhouse also touched on the privilege they felt having Rosie and Jim Wight working with them, as he added: “Back in series one, Jim wrote a book about his dad speaking about his own experiences.

“He gave every single one of us a copy, and on the back page, he had written in his own words like his own memories of the individual characters that we were all playing, so we had this complete gold mine which was very personal to us.”

Executive producer Melissa Gallant expressed how she felt to work with Alf’s children as she revealed: “It is, and it has been so valuable having Jim and Rosie help us and giving us the confidence that we were being truthful and getting it right enough for them.

“It is a huge responsibility, it is unusual, yeah, we kind of wanted to raise a glass to the period and also evolve it.

“They have been completely brilliant and generous, they were really excited about Herriot’s story coming to a new generation but also rightly quite nervous.

“This is their father’s characters and his stories, so the first time I went to meet them, I just said, ‘I haven’t come to make you any promises because I can’t promise you you will love it.

“I also said to them, ‘I need you to safeguard your dad’s character and story, and you tell us when we have got it wrong, and we will make the best TV series we can’.

“I think one of the biggest pressures for us was that the books were so loved and that the BBC TV series was so popular, so what we didn’t want to do was replicate that nor ignore it.”

Series three, which is set to air later this year, has been long-awaited after filming for the series was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fans will see the residents of Skeldale House enter the year of 1939 as the prospect of another World War looms over their heads.

James and Helen are embarking on the next chapter of their lives as they navigate their way into married life.

Producers of the show were keen to keep this under wraps until the series aired. However, Rachel recently called out the paparazzi who leaked the photos.

“Well, somebody kind of leaked photos of us annoyingly, so that’s out, unfortunately.”

All Creatures Great and Small returns this Autumn on Channel 5.

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