All Creatures Great And Small: Did the cast work with real animals?

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All Creatures Great and Small is returning with a brand new series on Channel 5 from this evening (September 1). The series tells the real-life story of Yorkshire vet Alf Wight, better known by his pen name James Herriot. The cast spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk and other media about whether or not they worked with real animals.

Did the All Creatures Great And Small cast work with real animals?

All Creatures Great and Small is a welcome addition to the TV schedule as it brings laughs and smiles during a turbulent time.

The series features plenty of farm animals as it follows the story of a passionate vet who lands a job as a veterinary assistant.

Moving from Glasgow to Yorkshire, he has no idea of what countryside life is like and he gets a rude awakening.

One of the scenes features James Herriot being kicked in the face by a horse as he experiences farm life for the first time.

But Nicholas Ralph, who plays Herriot, said it was a great experience working with the animals.

He told Express.co.uk and other media: “They were brilliant from day one, it was absolutely fantastic and they put us all at ease straight away.

“From day one we saw how well they were trained and looked after, and you just felt completely comfortable around them.

“So much so we had some scenes with a horse and there are some stunt scenes where it had to kick out and things.

“When we came to shoot the scene… the stunt double did it and I was watching it and thought maybe I would give it a try.

“Thankfully I managed to time it quite well and in the episode, I think it was actually me in there, so I was chuffed with that.”

The crew had registered animal handlers to select the right creatures, as well as a real vet and independent animal welfare adviser.

The cast said they wanted to mark a new slate when it comes to how to work with animals during production.

Some of the scenes include the cast performing invasive procedures on animals, or helping them during birth.

Melissa Gallant, executive producer, spoke to Express.co.uk and others about how one scene involved working with a cow in labour.

She said: “I remember the production meeting very well where I suggested we should buy a prosthetic cow’s backside, and so we did.

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“Because the important thing was it always looked and felt real but we respected these wonderful creatures.”

Brian Percival, lead director, revealed wide shots were filmed with the animals beforehand and the rest was down to prosthetics.

He added: “I hate to spoil it but 90 percent of the time animals weren’t there… it was just well-trained animals when we did see them and rest was down to tricks of filming.”

There is a birth at the end of the first episode which was real but it was filmed by a second unit.

The crew had been standing by for almost two weeks to get the shots of the birth, which were then edited into the series.

This was a huge moment for the cast and crew as it is rare to see a real birth as part of a drama.

At the start of the series, fans will see an enormous bull who scares James when he sees it for the first time.

Rachel Shenton, who plays Helen Alderson in the series, said it took a few attempts for her to lead the bull around the farm.

She told Express.co.uk and others: “It must have happened four or five times and I just thought, I’m just going to do it.

“[They] said don’t show the bull that you’re fearful because they can sense it, so I just faked it and dragged him around the yard.”

All Creatures Great And Small airs on Channel 5 on Tuesdays at 9pm

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