All Creatures Great and Smalls star on Mrs Pumphrey replacement Big boots to fill

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

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The second season of All Creatures Great and Small ended with a Christmas special in December last year, and viewers of the Channel 5 series would have noticed something different about Mrs Pumphrey. Taking over from the late award-winning Dame Diana Rigg, who passed away at 82 in September 2020, Patricia Hodge has been praised by co-stars for her portrayal of Mrs Pumphrey.

Nicholas Ralph and Rachel Shenton, who play lovestruck couple James Herriot and Helen Aldridge have spoken about the cast shake-up.

Rachel began: “It’s big boots to fill. Diana did such an incredible job.

“The character was so well-loved, so to come on and take that role and to do something so different with such different energy is a difficult thing to do.

“But she’s done it with such ease. But I mean, she is pretty well accomplished, so you would expect it.”

There is no official confirmation on when the third instalment of the Channel 5 show based on James Herriot’s real-life memoirs will start filming, but American fans are in for a treat as season two has just landed on PBS.

TV addicts will recognise Patricia from other popular shows such as Miranda and A Very English Scandal.

Nicholas also commented on how easy it was to work with the new actress during the second season.

“It’s been fantastic. She has been a pleasure to work with,” he added on the Talkshire podcast.

“She just makes the character completely her own; she is just so fun. “

Scheduling conflicts meant Nicholas and Dame Diana didn’t get to share a scene together until later on in the filming cycle.

Reminiscing, he continued: “The way the scheduling worked, I didn’t have a scene with her until a little while later, and people were saying how brilliant she was.

“We then had our first scene together, and I was really struggling to keep a straight face as she’s got little Tricki Woo played the wonderful Derrick, and she’s using him like a ventriloquist dummy, like a little puppet.”

When the official Channel 5 Twitter account shared the news of the new casting in April 2021, fans quickly showed their approval of Patricia joining the cast.

Julie Stanton said: “Counting the hours, absolutely love it xx.”

“A perfect choice of casting!” Fiona Boyd Campbell added.

Not much is known about season three, but showrunner Ben Vanstone confirmed that the Channel 5 drama would return for a third series, revealing that “there’s plenty more to come”.

Talking at a press Q&A ahead of the second series premiere, he said: “Yes, I think we are looking forward to a third series. I don’t think that’s a surprise.”

“I think that when we started the show, we had in mind arcs for these characters that took them across a number of series and initially, it was kind of four series.

“But everything in this show plays out slower than you think it would.”

Seasons three and four were confirmed earlier this month with fans expecting to see Helen and James finally tie the knot.

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