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'All Creatures Great and Small' star Nicholas Ralph: ‘You can’t help but feel Christmassy!’

Nicholas Ralph and Rachel Shenton in the All Creatures Great and Small Christmas Special
James (Nicholas Ralph) and Helen (Rachel Shenton) get into the festive spirit in the All Creatures Great and Small Christmas Special. (Image credit: Channel 5)

The All Creatures Great and Small Christmas 2021 special will be celebrating the festive season in style with an enchanting installment of the period drama. 

But tension is in the air in Darrowby as newly engaged vet James (Nicholas Ralph) and fiancée Helen (Rachel Shenton) are at crossed purposes over where they are spending the big day. Meanwhile, there’s a crisis in store when pampered Pekingese Tricki Woo, the beloved pooch of wealthy Mrs Pumphrey (Patricia Hodge), falls ill.

We caught up with Nicholas Ralph and Rachel Shenton to find out more about the All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special...

'All Creatures Great and Small' is packed full of drama at Christmas. Where do we find James and Helen?

Nicholas Ralph: “James assumes they're going to be at Skeldale House and Helen assumes they’ll be with the Aldersons because Jenny [Helen’s sister, played by Imogen Clawson] has done lots of work!”

Rachel Shenton: “They're concerned about upsetting everybody. It’s about how things will work, not only on Christmas Day, but what their life will look like when they’re married. Helen isn’t sure what her place will be. But she’s the link between the vets and the farmers, she sees things from both sides and that's maybe where she'll fit in.”

Patricia Hodge in All Creatures Great and Small.

Patricia Hodge as Mrs Pumphrey and Derek as Tricki Woo in 'All Creatures Great and Small'. (Image credit: Channel 5)

Is there concern when Tricki Woo falls ill?

Rachel Shenton: “Yes, I love the relationship between Tricki and Mrs Pumphrey in the episode, it’s so beautiful and real. I've got a dog so I felt it even more.”

Nicholas Ralph: “Poor Tricki! You don’t want to see him in any other state than his jolly little self getting up to mischief, so when he’s poorly it's not fun. But I think Derek, who plays him, does detailed work on the scripts because I did a procedure on him and the director said, ‘Everyone quiet,’ and his eyes dropped and he fell asleep! He’s incredible and so lovable!” 

Did the episode feel Christmassy to film?

Rachel Shenton: “Yes, even though we shot it in July on the hottest days of the year! But it was gorgeous, the attention to detail’s second to none. You forget it’s summer because it's so Christmassy.”

Nicholas Ralph: “I had a three-piece-suit, jacket and hat on and was lugging around a Christmas tree so I was on the verge of heatstroke! But our sets are so wonderfully decorated that you can’t help but feel Christmassy and jolly, especially when I was also decked out in a Santa suit! It was boiling though and the beard gets in your nose and mouth!”

Nicholas Ralph in All Creatures Great and Small.

Will Christmas be a happy one for James (Nicholas Ralph) in 'All Creatures Great and Small'? (Image credit: Channel 5)

Will you watch the Christmas episode with your families?

Rachel Shenton: “Yes, my family are in the Midlands so I’ll head there. My mum has a strange ability to withdraw information from me – like mums do! – but I've kept tight-lipped about this episode, because I know she loves watching the show.”

Nicholas Ralph: “Last year, I didn't make it home across the Scottish border in time before it shut. So I'm looking forward to getting to the Highlands and spending time with friends and family overindulging in food and drink and being transported to this world for an hour!”

When can I watch the 'All Creatures Great and Small' Christmas special? 

The episode will air in the UK on Channel 5 on Friday, Dec. 24 at 9pm and will be available on My5. 

It will be shown on PBS Masterpiece in the US at a later date.