Stars talk about beloved All Creatures Great & Small animals on PBS MASTERPIECE

Rachel Shenton, Nicholas Ralph (all photos courtesy of PBS SoCal, MASTERPIECE)

 PBS’ MASTERPIECE All Creatures Great and Small had its Season 4 launch at the LA Zoo as a nod to the beloved series’ affection for critters big and little. PBS SoCal/KCET hosted the event for animal-lovers, VIPs and supporters of PBS’ vibrant flagship station in California.

 Flying in from England, the stars of the show, Nicholas Ralph and Rachel Shenton (who play James and Helen Herriot) came to the PBS SoCal reception and screening of the first episode of Season 4 (which premiered Sunday, January 7, 2024). They also enjoyed a sunny day at the LA Zoo meeting the enthusiastic fans of All Creatures Great and Small. During an interview session following the screening, Ralph and Shenton told wonderful stories about filming with the animals in England’s magnificent Yorkshire Dales.

  Matt Brennan, the Los Angeles Times’ deputy editor for entertainment and arts, asked the stars about their favorite animal encounters, which included fan favorite Mrs. Pumphrey’s pampered Pekingese Tricki-Woo and working with Clive the bull.

 Nicholas Ralph marveled at how “Tricki-Woo knew where to go and how to act after quick rehearsals.” And Rachel Shenton recalled, “I was impressed that Clive the bull had a long list of TV credits and a head so big, the size of a car’s bonnet (hood). I was doing a scene very close to Clive who made a quick move that sent the 20 man crew scattering, and left me there alongside the bull, who was really quite lovely. But mostly my job has become chief cuddler with smaller animals.”

In advance of the Season 4 premiere, Rachel also talked about Jess, the pet dog of Siegfried Farnon at Skeldale House. Rachel said, “Ernie, who plays Jess, is one of the best-loved dogs on set. There’s a funny story with Ernie, when we were all in a serious scene in the living room. We all sat around, and Mrs. Hall has given everybody a scone with cream and jam and everybody’s got one on the side tables. We were all engrossed in what the scene was about, and at the corner of my eye I saw Ernie get up and take each scone, but no one called cut so he made his way around the room eating all the scones one by one.”

 More stories were told during a PBS interview session for the Television Critics Association. Ralph was asked if he thought James had gotten better at helping animals and their owners as time has gone on? “Absolutely. I think James is just growing all the time, professionally and personally,” he said. “I think we really see his skill set blossom in this series, it’s not just about helping the animals it’s about helping the owners. That’s very much part of the world of James Herriot, the vets have so much compassion and patience. Helen being a farmer’s daughter and supporting the community, Mrs. Hall welcoming these new faces in like myself and Carmody and just taking care of everyone. And Mrs. Pumphrey taking in more animals for the war effort. It’s a huge part of the warmth of this show.”

Rachel Shenton, Nicholas Ralph

  Tune in MASTERPIECE All Creatures Great and Small for Season 4, every Sunday night on PBS. And PBS SoCal announced the new season is now streaming FREE on the PBS App and is available on PBS Passport.

Oakie Russell, Andy Russell, Rachel Shenton, Nicholas Ralph

Debbie Coverse, Maura Daly Phinney, Nicholas Ralph, Bob Dea, Cindy Galindo


Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.