All Creatures Great and Small: Cast on lack of 'villains'

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All Creatures Great and Small is back on Channel 5 on December 24 with the festive special. The TV series is based on the books by Yorkshire vet Alf Wight, who used the pen name James Herriot. Herriot’s children spoke to Helen Alderson star Rachel Shenton about their father’s life.

The escapist family drama will see James Herriot (played by Nicholas Ralph) spend his first Christmas with Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton).

Now they are engaged, they are making tough decisions about their future and what their roles in the Dales will be.

One of the more pressing dilemmas is where they will spend Christmas Day, and this causes some friction.

Actress Shenton opened up about what the future could hold for farmer’s daughter Helen and James.

She spoke to Alf Wight’s daughter, Rosie, about when her parents bought their first home.

She said Alf’s wife quickly discovered the one thing he was bad at.

The actress explained: “Rosie Wight told me a lovely story about when her mum and dad were setting up home together (not in Skeldale, but elsewhere).

“He was notoriously terrible at DIY, and she said that her mum and dad never had a cross word and they were always on each other’s teams, apart from DIY.

“So I think there will hopefully be lots of fun to be had about the practicalities of living with each other.

“As all of us know, there is an assumption that people get together and it’s a happily ever after, when in reality that’s when the real work starts!”

The real James Herriot married his wife Joan Catherine Anderson Danbury in Thirsk in November 1941.

Following their wedding, Alf continued to TB test cows in Wensleydale and the couple’s first home was at 23 Kirkgate.

The couple had two children, Jim, who also became a vet and Rosie, who became a general practitioner.

During the festive special, Helen attends some of James’ veterinary appointments with him.

She soon realises she feels like a spare part in James’ work, and at Skeldale.

However, the farmer’s daughter soon proves her worth as she comes up with a life-saving solution.

A beloved pet in Darrowby falls ill and, having spoken with one of her farmer contacts, Helen comes up with an idea to save him.

In the meantime, there is a misunderstanding over where the pair will be spending their first Christmas together.

Helen is under the impression they would be with her father and sister, as she is eager for James to get to know the family better.

However, Mrs Hall (Anna Madeley) is known for hosting the festivities and she has already prepared a meal.

They may not get married in the Christmas special, but their romance continues to blossom.

Elsewhere, Tristan Farnon (Callum Woodhouse) is nervously awaiting the results of his veterinary exams.

His older brother Siegfried (Samuel West) is working on his own relationship with Diana Brompton (Dorothy Atkinson).

Each of the main characters is based on someone Alf Wight worked closely with and admired.

He died in February 1995, four years before his wife Joan, who died in July 1999.

The All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special airs on Christmas Eve at 9pm on Channel 5.

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