All Creatures Great and Small star admits ‘we’ve been terribly disruptive’ on set

All Creatures Great and Small: Season two trailer

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All Creatures Great and Small season two returned to Channel 5 last week with another look into the perfect and crazy countryside life. Actor Sam West joined Phil Penfold to speak about his love of Yorkshire and troubles that come with filming in Yorkshire around the farmers.

Talking about the show, West explained: “Because it has light and shade, humour with just a tinge of something darker, it’s not all seen through rose-tinted glasses.

“One of the key factors has to be that it all looks so right, and that’s down to our incredible design team.

“Across costumes and locations and sets and also, in a huge way, to the people of Grassington who understand how we work and who – seem to have taken us to their generous hearts.

“Yes, we’ve been terribly disruptive, but they have been so accommodating and supportive, and it simply wouldn’t have been in any way possible without all of that,” West described. 

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He also said that All Creatures Great and Small taught him the harsh realities of farming in life, saying genuine farmers have to deal with “the often brutal facts.”

West opened up about the struggles and pressures the team faced whilst filming through the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We were shooting in spring,” West recalls, “Because everyone felt that a lighter touch was needed in these rather difficult times – a season of budding trees, re-birth, lambs in the fields, and all that.

“And of course, we had to observe all the Covid restrictions, which was far from easy. We’d rehearse a scene and do a run-through with cast and crew.

“Absolutely everyone, in masks, and then we’d film for the camera without them, and that was weird because you saw proper facial reactions for the very first time,” West described. 

“But there was a moment for me that really made me see what we had been up against and what very different circumstance we have been living in.

“I saw a lovely lady, Gemma, who is one of the production team who work so extremely hard to keep everything rolling along so well, and she was just about to take her lunchtime break.”

“She had a sandwich, and of course, she had to take her obligatory mask off. And I realised, with a jolt, that I had never ever seen her full face before.”

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West also recalled injuring his Achilles tendon and explained: “I still don’t know how I did it, but I trotted out, twisted something in my leg, and snapped my Achilles tendon.

“It was excruciating, but I was so aware that the scene had to be ‘in the can’ to finish shooting that I went on for a short while with it strapped up simply, and then they had to devise a way of getting me on screen, fairly static, and from the waist up.”

He explained that his leg was in a cast for around four months and that he had to “grin and limp on with it.” 

West plays the vet and owner of Skeldale House and happens to be the boss of James Herriot, who is played by Nicholas Ralph. 

Speaking to Big Issue about the drama, West said: “For many people, it will just be a lovely piece of that period escapism, and why not?

“But when we think of things that we have to get better at, relying on each other, welcoming outsiders, and looking after the land are three that are very high, on my list anyway.”

All Creatures Great and Small airs on Thursdays at 9pm on Channel 5. 
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