All Creatures Great and Small season 2: How Nicholas Ralph paid tribute to James Herriot

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All Creatures Great and Small season two has been airing on Channel 5 and the TV series is inspired by real events. The heartwarming show follows the working life and personal affairs of James Herriot (played by Nicholas Ralph). This was the pen name vet Alf Wight used to write his books, and Ralph explained how he paid homage to him.

How did Nicholas Ralph pay tribute to James Herriot?

The second outing of All Creatures Great and Small saw James Herriot return home from Glasgow, where he was visiting his parents.

The talented vet was drawn back to the Dales as he is still hung up on forming a relationship with Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton).

James and Helen’s relationship happened in real life as Alf Wight went on to marry his love.

His career as depicted in the show also happened in real life, although some creative license has been used.

Actor Ralph said he drew on elements of James’ personality to bring the character back to life.

James is seen getting his teeth into farm work even more this series, and he realises he wants to help the people as much as the animals.

This is something the real James Herriot wrote about and it was always on Ralph’s mind.

He said: “Absolutely. It runs through all of it; you’re helping out the people as much and sometimes more so than the animals.

“Sometimes there is very little you can do for the animals and it’s about the personal stories.

“As we move into series two James is growing into himself as a vet and as a person, he is more confident, and he’s being given more responsibility.”

Speaking about one particular moment in the series, he said: “There is a beautiful story about a farmer’s wife taking over the farm after her husband passes away.

“The storyline is really quite poignant. We see James really tackling everything head-on, multiple facets of people and the farm and the animals and he takes on that role to try and help.

“It’s all part of him growing up. In series one it was similar, but the onus was on impressing Siegfried and securing the job, whereas this series he is more self-assured with the vet stuff and seeing what else can be done to help these people.

“And through this he is gaining respect and reputation in the community.”

The series has been praised for providing the perfect sense of escapism and it has brightened up many lives during lockdown.

The real Alf Wight graduated from Glasgow Veterinary College in 1939, later returning to England to become a vet in Yorkshire, where he practised for almost 50 years.

He penned a series of eight books set in the 1930s about animals in Yorkshire and their owners.

His first book was If Only They Could Talk, which was first published in 1970.

Over the years, there have been several adaptations of Wight’s books, including the 1975 film All Creatures Great and Small and the BBC series of the same name.

Fans have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts on the series, with Missy saying: “#AllCreaturesGreatAndSmall always helps ease my stress and leave me in a warm and fuzzy place. @AllCreaturesTV.”

Louise Buttery added: “As a child I read every original #AllCreaturesGreatAndSmall book. I loved them all. I never liked the original TV series in the 70/80s.

“Not faithful to the books with storylines or casting. Your series is perfect casting, perfect storylines. I can’t thank you enough.”

Actor Ralph said he has only just come to terms with the praise he has received for the first season.

He said on the occasions when he is stopped in the street, he is thrilled to hear so many people have fallen in love with the show.

All Creatures Great and Small season 2 airs on Thursdays on Channel 5.

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