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All Creatures Great and Small cast talk Tristan actor Callum Woodhouse's absence in Christmas special

The upcoming festive episode arrives on Channel 5 on December 21

All Creatures Great and Small cast
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
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The cast of All Creatures Great and Small have opened up about their co-star Callum Woodhouse's absence in the upcoming Christmas special. 

The actor, who plays Tristan Farnon, has been missing since the beginning of series four, with his character having left Darrowby to serve in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. 

WATCH: All Creatures Great and Small teases dramatic Christmas special as Helen goes into labour

Chatting to HELLO! and other journalists at a recent press event ahead of the upcoming festive episode, Nicholas Ralph, Samuel West, Rachel Shenton and Anna Madeley spoke about the impact of Tristan's absence on their characters.

When asked if the cast had missed having Callum on set, Nicholas, who stars as James Herriot, replied: "Yes totally. As much as the characters miss Tristan, around the set we miss Callum."

Samuel, who portrays Siegfried, joked: "It's slightly quieter, isn't it?"

Samuel West in All Creatures Great and Small© Channel 5
Siegfried is missing Tristan in the Christmas special

Rachel quipped: "I get more cuddles from the animals because usually Cal is hogging that, so every cloud," adding: "No, I missed him."

On how the residents of Skeldale House are coping with Tristan being away, Nicholas said: "I think [for] James, Tristan is normally his best mate, he's like his brother in his surrogate home for the last few years. He took James under his wing to the point where [Tristan] was helping James out and he was starting to help Tristan out and they became this strong bond within the house.

"James misses him terribly but is also extremely proud of him for getting out from beneath Siegfried and becoming his own man."

Callum Woodhouse in All Creatures Great and Small
Tristan left Darrowby at the end of series three

Samuel added: "It's the same feeling for me, really. The whole of series one to three has been a process of discovering - to go back to the old cliché but true saying - if you love someone, set them free. As soon as I realised that and set him free, he left, which is exactly what he's meant to do but it hurts. I miss him terribly."

Anna chimed in: "I think Mrs Hall does as well. So she's enjoying having Carmody there, getting him sat at the table and feeding him."

Tristan isn't the only character away from home in the Christmas special, however. At the end of season four, James left Darrowby for the RAF training base, leaving his heavily pregnant wife Helen in the capable hands of Mrs Hall and Siegfried. 

Nicholas Ralph in All Creatures Great and Small© Channel 5
James is training at the RAF base in the upcoming special

On the recurring theme of absence in the latest season and upcoming episode, Samuel said: "There is a lot of absence in this season. Obviously, absence is invisible but somebody told me, you know you're making something good when you're filming what's invisible and I think you can tell. Absence is shot through a lot of it and gives it a tone. 

"Nic's absence is one of them that we really feel and you can sort of see it, even though he's not there."

MORE: Inside All Creatures Great and Small star Rachel Shenton's private life away from the show

MORE: All Creatures Great and Small star Samuel West's famous partner and family life explored

So, what can fans expect from the festive episode? The full synopsis reads: "It's Christmas, and James is miles away at the RAF training base. An emotional phone call with a very pregnant Helen makes him determined to get back to her, but he doesn’t have many options and RAF Mascot, Georgie, needs his help. James struggles to do the right thing. Will he find his way home in time for Christmas?

Samuel West and James Anthony-Rose in All Creatures Great and Small© Channel 5
The All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special airs on December 21

"Meanwhile, Mrs Hall prepares a community Christmas celebration in Darrowby, whilst Siegfried and Carmody argue over who will be Father Christmas this year. Carmody is welcomed for his first Darrowby Christmas and finds himself enjoying it. James learns a very important lesson and is rewarded with a surprise."

The Christmas special arrives on Channel 5 on Thursday 21 December at 9pm.