All Creatures Great & Small bosses talk future of show beyond season two

The much-loved Channel 5 drama has returned to screens

All Creatures Great and Small finally returns to screens on Thursday evening for its second season, much to the delight of fans who have been waiting a whole year.

MORE: Patricia Hodge reveals what it was like to replace Diana Rigg on All Creatures Great and Small

Based on the immensely popular novels by Alf Wight (aka James Herriot), the series follows a 1930s veterinary practice in a sleepy Yorkshire village and stars Nicholas Ralph, Patricia Hodge and Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis.

Season one became an instant hit with viewers, and it's expected that season two will be just as well received. Speaking ahead of season two, executive Producer Melissa Gallant and series writer Ben Vanstone revealed that they are hoping the series continues for many more seasons.

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WATCH: All Creatures Great and Small has returned to screens for its second season

"We're very keen," Melissa told HELLO!. "I've been in television 20 years and this really has been the best job in the world. It's such a family behind the scenes and just the material is so joyful."

Lead writer Ben Vanstone echoed this, chiming in: "We're very keen! There's plenty more to come. We will see what all the stakeholders say."

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MORE: All Creatures Great and Small: what happened to the real James Herriot? 

He added that the duo originally planned to take the series to four seasons but might now extend it beyond that. "I think that when we started the show we had in mind arcs for these characters that took them across a number of series," he explained. "And initially it was four series but everything on this show plays out slower than you think it will."

Patricia Hodge has taken over the role of Mrs Pumphrey

Elsewhere, the pair also opened up about approaching Miranda actress Patricia Hodge to take over the role of Mrs Pumphrey following the sad passing of Dame Diana Rigg.

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"We thought long and hard about it and we wanted to do the right thing ultimately for the audience," Melissa said. "And we had lots of conversations about it. Having lost dear Diana Rigg who we were so thrilled to have worked with, do we write the character out, or do we bring in a relative of that character?"

However, because Mrs Pumphrey is such an "iconic" character, they ultimately decided to recast her. "So we were completely thrilled when Patricia said yes. It's another member of British acting royalty joining us," she continued, adding: "Patricia made that character her own."

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