This year's All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special sees Helen and James separated, with the former heavily pregnant and unable to travel and the latter now serving in the RAF and stationed at an air base.


Helen star Rachel Shenton spoke with and other press about what this separation, and Helen's pregnancy, means for the character, revealing that she got to play a different side to her that viewers haven't seen before in the four seasons thus far.

Shenton said: "I think this is the first year, there’s always such a heavy theme particularly in the Christmas episode, of community and togetherness, and this year is no exception. And I think Helen is usually at the heart of it, as she gets her sort of significance from helping others and serving others, and this is the first year that she's had to receive that.

"Because, well, one, she's missing James desperately, she's heavily pregnant so can't physically move around and help people, and so she's sort of got no choice but to sit back and allow that community to help her. That was new, and you see her probably at her most vulnerable, really, which was nice to play, and different."

Patricia Hodge as Mrs Pumphrey, Anna Madeley as Mrs Hall, Rachel Shenton as Helen Herriot and Imogen Clawson as Jenny Alderson in All Creatures Great and Small
Patricia Hodge as Mrs Pumphrey, Anna Madeley as Mrs Hall, Rachel Shenton as Helen Herriot and Imogen Clawson as Jenny Alderson. Channel 5

Shenton also explained what fans can expect from Helen's storyline in the episode, saying: "She's due to visit James and she's desperate to see him, really looking forward to it, of course, and then she's had a couple of twinges, and is just generally feeling a bit sort of unwell.

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"And Siegfried and Mrs Hall are playing the kind of mom and dad figures in the house at that point, and get involved and ultimately contribute to the decision that it's best for her to stay where she is and not visit James. And I think that's incredibly hard, I think she's just desperate for that sort of connection with him.

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Shenton explained a memory of filming a scene in which Helen and James speak on the phone, and she tells him "Oh God, I just needed to hear your voice". She said that "you could feel it in the scene that they just were so desperate to connect" but that "nature got involved there and it wasn't to be".

Meanwhile, James star Nicholas Ralph also explained how their separation is affecting his character, saying he "misses Helen hugely, and she's pregnant, and like he says before he leaves, things are a lot different now than when he signed up".
He continued: "When he signed up, Helen wasn't pregnant. Things were very, very different. And if she was back then, who knows what decision he would have made.

"So yeah, missing her hugely and missing the family, but also finding this camaraderie and this kind of brotherly love – and thank God for that. Thank God for these young men that he's surrounded by, that they've got each other as well."

This year's All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special airs on Thursday 21st December at 9pm on Channel 5. Watch all episodes on My5. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.

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