British drama All Creatures Great and Small is on the verge of a second season after exec producer Colin Callender revealed that he was in talks with UK network Channel 5 and PBS.
This comes after Ben Frow, who runs content at the ViacomCBS-owned UK broadcaster said last year that he wanted to commission a second season even before the first aired.
Callender was speaking at PBS’ virtual TCA press tour. He shared that the team behind the James Herriot-inspired series have been discussing a sophomore season.
“We are in discussions with Channel 5 in England and Masterpiece,” said Callender. “We are developing season two right now. So there’s every intention and hope that this will be a returning series and hopefully everyone will fall in love with the characters and want to run and run. Certainly that was our ambition from the outset.”
The series, which begins airing in 2021, takes inspiration Herriot’s humorous book of the same name about a country vet. The series sees Nicholas Ralph plays Herriot and Samuel West of The Crown fame stars as the eccentric veterinary surgeon Siegfried Farnon. Callum Woodhouse, Anna Madeley and Rachel Shenton also star in the PBS Masterpiece series.
During the panel, Callendar also revealed that he and the cast of the series vowed to the author’s children to remain faithful to the source material, whether that be setting the show in 20th century Yorkshire or elaborating more on the roles women have in the beloved story. Herriot’s novel, Callender said, still finds relevance in today’s Coronavirus-time audience.
“We’re living in such a difficult and problematic time that this series would be re-embraced,” he said. “We felt there was a way to make it work with a contemporary audience.”
The series, he said re-embraces traditional core values and “days gone by”. From the rolling green hills of Yorkshire to the humble, agrarian lifestyles showcased in the series, cast members said they immersed themselves in the world Herriot wrote about.
During the panel, Ralph, West and Shenton also recalled their wild experiences with the various farm animals on set, from petting docile calfs to taming intimidating bulls. Shenton, who plays Helen Anderson, recounted a day on set where she was told to stop stroking a young cow as it kept falling asleep during takes. Another cast member said that the team had to halt production days in the winter as the chickens on set would not stop laying eggs.
“We didn’t really know how difficult or easy working with the animals was going to be,” West laughed. “The only days we finished early were the days we were working with animals. They were more reliable than humans on the whole.”
PBS’s Masterpiece All Creatures Great and Small is produced by Richard Burnell. Executive producers include Callender, and Melissa Gallant for Playground, Hugo Heppell for Screen Yorkshire and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece. Ben Vanstone (The Last Kingdom) is the lead writer and executive producer and Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) is lead director.
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