All Creatures Great and Small's Nicholas Ralph on animal co-stars

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All Creatures Great and Small will be airing its Christmas special this evening (December 23) on Channel 5 at 9pm. Ahead of the festive edition of the show, stars Nicholas Ralph and Rachel Shenton appeared on ITV’s Lorraine to tease the episode. Star Ralph made a surprise admission about filming the Christmas episode, including having to deal with a tricky co-star.

The star told stand-in host Ranvir Singh how he was filming a scene with a cat, who wasn’t playing ball with him.

He said the cast was filming the really big Christmas scenes and his feline co-star wasn’t his biggest fan. 

Ralph said: “The one that we were working with in the Christmas episode, in particular, really didn’t like me.

“It was on the sofa like this and the animal handler put her down and he would take one step away, the cat was away.”

Each time the animal handler would place the cat next to him on the sofa, the animal would quickly bolt at the first available opportunity which made it tricky to shoot the sequence.

The topic of tricky animals came up after Singh asked: “I understand there’s one animal neither of you really want to work with. Is it a cat? Is it the least compliant of all the creatures?”

Shenton said about working with moggies: “You can’t train cats, they do what they want.”

The Oscar-winning star went on to say: “Our brilliant animal handling team, which is led by Jill and Dean [Clark] so well.

“All our animals are trained so well, impeccably. Usually, they’re far better than us at hitting their mark.”

Along with the animal co-stars proving challenging, the cast also had to contend with the weather as the Christmas special was shot during the heatwave.

Shenton described how “hot and sweaty” it was on set with the “heavy” fabric of the period costume also being tricky, particularly considering they were wearing winter clothes. 

Despite the saying ‘never work with animals or children’, Shenton admitted she was desperate to get her pet dog into the show one day in the background. 

Ralph said it was worrying how the crew were “handing out an ice pack when no one’s sprained an ankle” such were the soaring temps on set.

They went on to speak about tonight’s Yuletide special, with Ralph saying there would be a Jewish evacuee from Manchester coming to live with them.

Ralph said: “It’s also learning about each other’s cultures and Jewish traditions.”

Shenton promised the Christmas episode would be “jam-packed with humility and love” to warm viewers’ hearts.

The All Creatures Great and Small airs on Channel 5 tonight at 9pm

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