All Creatures Great and Small has a seriously impressive cast including a Harry Potter star, a theatre director and The Durrells alumni, but did you know one of the stars is actually an Oscar winner?
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Rachel Shenton, who plays Helen Alderson in the beloved Channel 5/PBS drama, won at the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film back in 2018 for her short film, The Silent Child.
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The film follows a teaching aide, played by Helen, who is charged with looking after a profoundly deaf little girl who is unable to communicate with her family, who in turn are reluctant to have her learn sign language, leaving her isolated.
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Rachel learned how to sign two years after her father passed away from cancer, during which he was left deaf from chemotherapy treatment. She told The Times: “I just thought I’d go to get a basic understanding, I didn’t expect to fall in love with it like I did. I loved performing and it almost felt natural to sign. It’s so expressive and lovely.” Adding that it made her feel closer to her father, she said: “It was the whole reason why I was on this path, and why I got involved in the deaf community. Everything was because of him.”
Rachel won an Oscar for her short film
Speaking about the film, she said: “Deafness and sign language are extremely close to my heart. I always say deafness is a silent disability, you can’t see and it’s not life-threatening, so it has to touch your life in some way in order for it to be on your radar.”
The actress, who has also starred in Hollyoaks and White Gold, did her acceptance speech in sign language after promising the film’s lead actress, Maisie Sly, that she would. In the speech, she said: “Our movie is about a deaf child being born into a world of silence. It’s not exaggerated or sensationalised for the movie; it’s happening to millions of children all over the world.”
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