AS THE much-anticipated second series of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small broadcasts on Channel 5 on Thursday - we got an insight behind the scenes.  

We spoke to production designer, Jackie Smith of Ripon, about the set's decor since series one. 

Did you need to change any of the set decor? Or has time stood still in the Yorkshire Dales?

“We made a few improvements to the standing set of Skeldale house, hopefully, the eagle-eyed viewer will spot them.

"We gave an increased focus to showing a seasonal arc in the series to reflect how they impact the everyday lives of the characters through ensuring that the housekeeper Mrs Hall’s produce was all seasonally correct and that flowers and decor were appropriate.

Read more: The North Yorkshire locations starring in new series of All Creatures Great and Small


All Creatures Great and Small: Series 2. The Alderson farm

All Creatures Great and Small: Series 2. The Alderson farm

“We changed some of the shops and added more for Darrowby, building bespoke units for each shop that was pre-dressed so that we could be as quick and discreet as possible when it came to dressing these sets to minimise the impact we had on locals’ trading.”

She adds that new prosthetics were made for the series this year. “We had a couple of halves of cows, a horse, sheep and lambs plus pigs’ heads.

"We have a brilliant prosthetics maker called Pauline Fowler at Animated Extras, who made the most life-like creations and always insisted we try them out by putting our hands in, as it were.

"There is always particular attention to the many period action props required for the vets and for Mrs Hall and we discuss these in detail with the actors to ensure they are happy and that they are correct for the period.

“We also reflect the impending shadow of the war in radio broadcasts, but this is not dominant yet in the show as life in the dales has to go on as usual. So yes, to some extent time stands still but there are always changes and improvements to be made.”

Read more: All Creatures Great and Small: How to watch Series 2

Jackie says that the people, landscape and the sense of community make filming All Creatures Great and Small a joy.

“Perhaps these are clichés, but they are true, nevertheless. Oh, and we enjoy the many fine bakeries and cafes in the dales, which we may have visited on too many occasions for the comfort of our waistlines.”


All Creatures Great and Small: Series 2. The Darrowby Village set

All Creatures Great and Small: Series 2. The Darrowby Village set

If you want to see the house and practice where Alf Wight lived and worked, and the inspiration for his books, the World of James Herriot attraction in Thirsk is in the real Skeldale House.

As you enter the hallway and see a tweed coat on the hat-stand and walk through to the family’s rooms and surgery, it’s like a film set, dressed in 1940s décor.

But in fact, the home retains many of the original furnishings in the family rooms, frozen in time.

The dining room doubled as the practice office, where farmers’ bills were typed up at the desk; the sitting room displays original books and family photos; the basement was converted to an air-raid shelter during the Second World War. 

The breakfast room was favoured for its relative warmth, and you can see a reproduction of a typical farmhouse kitchen.

You can view the primitive consulting room and the car Wight drove too.

Children get to put their arm inside a cow or sheep in the interactive gallery.

All Creatures Great and Small: Series 2. The Darrowby Village set

It’s the Memorabilia Room with its posters and merchandise that reminds you how there were two hit films, starring John Alderton and Simon Ward as James and the 1970s hit TV series starring Christopher Timothy.

Scottish newcomer Nicholas Ralph in the Channel 5 series from Playground production company now captures hearts as James, with his unconventional mentor, Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West), matriarch of Skeldale House Mrs Hall (Anna Madeley), and independent local farmer’s daughter Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton).

Read more: Bilsdale transmitter: You can get a refund on your TV licence – here’s how

There is also a characterful ensemble of farmers, animals and townsfolk living in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s.

Patricia Hodge joins the cast this series as Mrs Pumphrey, owner of Tricky Woo the Pekingese – the part played by the late Diana Rigg.

The six new episodes are expected to be broadcast from Thursday, September 16 at 9pm on Channel 5, followed by a second Christmas special.


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