'It's a really cool and interesting story,' says Ralf Little about the BBC's zoo drama

Ralf Little has explained his excitement at discovering the story behind Chester Zoo, after filming a new drama about its founder.

Inspector George Gently's Lee Ingleby stars in BBC period drama, Our Zoo, as George Mottershead who founded the animal menagerie in the 1930s. Ralf will play his mischievous brother-in-law Billy Atkinson.

Ralf revealed: "I just finished filming in Manchester. It's a dramatisation of a true story of the founding of Chester Zoo, which is actually a really, really cool and interesting story.

"[George Mottershead] came back from the First World War unable to reintegrate into society, not comfortable around people. And after a couple of years he started to come back around and find his personality again through caring for animals.

"And then he got a bit carried away and took his daughter to the circus one day and on impulse bought a camel.

"And then they found themselves going, 'We can't keep this in the kitchen!' - it was a tiny little terraced house. So they founded Chester Zoo.

"They bought a big house and went, 'We'll have to do our best,' and that was how it all began."

Our Zoo also stars Life On Mars actress Liz White as George's wife Lizzie Mottershead, while Anne Reid and Peter Wight will play his parents. It will screen later in 2014.


Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.