‘All Creatures’ interview: Mrs Hall star Anna Madeley chats about filming Season 3

All Creatures Great and Small is back!

Based on author James Herriot’s much-loved collection of stories, Channel 5’s period drama follows the heartwarming and humorous adventures of a young country vet in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s.

Three months on from the end of the last season, it’s now spring 1939 as the hit series returns for its third run.

Some big changes are happening at Skeldale and everyone has to learn how to adjust. Tristan is now a qualified vet while James enters into a new stage of his life with Helen and at the practice.

After being made joint business partner by Siegfried, James pushes to take on more responsibility via the Ministry of Agriculture’s new bovine TB testing scheme, but its unexpected challenges risk pushing him to breaking point.

And as a potential Second World War looms, all of our Skeldale family have to consider their purpose in Darrowby and beyond.

Watch the trailer:

Season 3 is currently airing in the UK at 9pm on Thursday nights on Channel 5.

The new episodes will then air in the US at 9/8c on Sunday nights from 8th January 2023 on Masterpiece on PBS.

Here actress Anna Madeley chats about what’s coming up for Mrs Hall…


Where do we find Mrs Hall at the start of Season 3?

“Mrs Hall is v excited. She’s in full Mrs Hall mode, trying to be ahead of the game with Helen and James’ wedding preparations, have everything organised and keep track of what could go wrong.

“The boys are about to go on James’ stag do, she’s concerned they’re going to go out, perhaps have too much to drink and that it will impact on Helen’s big day and the wedding. So, she is doing her best to fill them up with carb heavy food. She tries to keep the ship running smoothly.”


Helen moves into Skeldale House after the wedding…how does that dynamic work for Mrs Hall?

“They have a really lovely evolution. The interesting thing about Mrs Hall and Helen is they are both in a way mothers.

“They both run their own households although they do it quite differently and have other responsibilities but because Helen had to fulfill that role of mother/carer for her sister and is also the one who cooks and cleans for their household there is a big Venn diagram crossover for them.

“Mrs Hall is so excited to welcome Helen into her home and wants her to feel like it’s her home but there is a journey to go on.

“Mrs Hall really misses having James at the dinner table but understands that as a newly married couple they need their space and their privacy and their own life so it’s a real tug on her heart wanting them to have a fantastic start to married life together but also knowing it’s a challenging situation having to cook on a tiny little stove up in the loft but knowing they are having fun and enjoying life.

“In her heart she hopes they’ll find their way back to the table and she’ll get to cook for them and almost welcome not quite another child into the home but someone else to love who expands the family.

“There are some lovely moments when they get to share a bit and Mrs Hall opens up a little about the early days of her married life and those moments of happiness and moment of not being able to predict the future but just make the best decisions you can.”


Have you tried anymore of Mrs Hall’s recipes at home?

“I haven’t tried any more of Mrs Halls’ recipes this year. The wedding cake was just extraordinary, a beautiful, tiered cake and the rest has been pretty regular fayre this series. Although I might have a go at her pineapple upside down cake…”


How does Mrs Hall’s friendship with Gerald progress?

“It progresses into a lovely friendship; she loves the time she spends with him. Special time outside of the house with someone who cares for her but she is a little overwhelmed by the idea it could be anything other than a friendship and so she doesn’t quite face up to that side of it and just enjoys having a friend…

“With the encroaching war Gerald is someone she can talk to about the experiences they had of going through the last war and he has a different perspective on it. I think that brings them quite close and they enjoy each other’s company.”


And will we see Mrs Hall reconciled with her son Edward?

“She and Edward have started writing to each other and that gives her real hope. They’ve been on a bit of a journey where she’s felt she can’t do much, she has expressed her desires to Edward and it is in his hands.

“I think now perhaps it’s a situation where the prospect of war brings it into focus and is possibly doing that for Edward too and making him realise who and what matters and the enormity of what they might face. Through those letters there is a possibility they might find each other again. But Edward has got form so whether he will follow through is to be seen…”


Do Siegfried and Mrs Hall learn more about each other this season?

“I think Siegfried wants to look after everybody in the way he knows how, he gives James more responsibility in the business, he invites James and Helen to live at Skeldale and have their first home together within the house and although vets were a protected profession he wants to try and control that and keep everybody safe and I think Mrs Hall understands that they’ve grown into young men now, James is starting family life, Tris is desperate to get from under Siegfried’s wing and be a man in his own right and that Siegfried needs to release that control, as Mrs Hall had to do with Edward.

“So, I think they can help each other out a bit with that, they do have a different response and she helps Siegfried with the hard part of parenting, as it were, even if it is surrogate parenting.

“They both have memories of getting married that they share, times of joy in both their lives. Lovely bit where Mrs Hall is clearing out boxes in the attic to make room for Helen and James and she comes across boxes of things from Siegfried’s life that he’s not quite ready to look through but some of it is lovely to engage with.

“We do get to know a bit more about his life before, his married life and his life during the war. These things do bring them closer together, but they butt up against each other as well which is all part of the fun!”


And what do you think of Siegfried’s new pet rat?

“Mrs Hall is rather unimpressed by the arrival of a rat. I think she thinks it should stay in its cage and doesn’t have any more to say on the subject! Personally, I’d never experienced rats other than the big ones you see in the park and run away from!

“So I was quite surprised by these two beautiful rats, they are rather sweet and I was surprised by how lovely they were. I’ve seen rats in a new light.”


Mrs Hall is more at home with the family dog Jess…

“Jess learnt a new trick this year that if you’ve got a cup of tea with a saucer and a biscuit on the side, she knows how to get the biscuit without spilling the tea in one gulp. I was quite amazed!

“We went on some lovely walks this series. One time we were out near Malham waterfalls, and we had to do multiple takes, it was a warm day and the water was just too appealing for Ernie who plays Jess, who kept on getting in!”


During this season, you worked with a deaf actor which was a first for you…

“It was a fantastic first for me. Lara Steward played a character in episode five, she was brilliant. There was also another actress, Janice Crossland Jones, both of whom are deaf so they had interpreters with them on set, so we quickly learnt what was the best way of working together, making sure you’re available visually all the time, which makes you realise how you rely on being able to call someone to attract attention.

“We all learnt a little bit about sign language and playing a character who knew nothing about sign language who was being introduced to it, was a nice way in as well. She introduces Mrs Hall to her way of communicating.

“What was rather lovely in the storyline was Lara was playing a character who happens to be deaf and actually her deafness becomes her strength in communication during the episode, which turns it on its head. That in this case it is very much not a disability but becomes her ability and allows Mrs Hall to know something that otherwise she wouldn’t…so it is a lovely story.”


And what have you learned about your character this season?

“The writing has given us a broader context for Mrs Hall’s life. This series we get to know a lot more about the ups and downs of her life. We learn more about the Mrs Hall who doesn’t always know what to do, who is vulnerable, who tries but gets it wrong.

“We know Mrs Hall as the one people turn to for solutions and to resolve things and to help them out so aren’t many people who actively help Mrs Hall…knowing right now she is happy and feels safe and secure and she too will have a struggle with the world moving on. Lovely extra layers that we see, her world beyond the years at Skeldale.”


And do you have a favourite location in The Dales?

“Brimham Rocks is always a big favourite, we’ve been up there away from work but also filmed there.

“It is magical and ancient and also not held at a distance…some ancient sites are roped off and you can appreciate but can’t be in amongst, but this is extraordinary as you can adventure in it.”


And your stand out moment this season…

“Filming at the railway, that was amazing! All volunteers on the Keighley railway line, they let us hop on the steam engine and see the coals in the fire up close – the heat of engine was exciting and frightening, it was a bit humbling.

“I had been on a steam engine before but only in a carriage. Hearing their enthusiasm for it was infectious, they love to spend their days getting mucky on the steam railway. It gave you an idea of what the air must have been like back then with little black dots of soot everywhere – we got ever so grimy…”


All Creatures Great and Small is available on DVD on Amazon.