All Creatures Great and Small season 2 sees a new arrival in the Yorkshire Dales this week when Patricia Hodge takes on the role of Mrs Pumphrey, the owner of pampered Pekingese Tricki Woo.
In the first series of the revival of the vet drama, the character was originally played by Dame Diana Rigg, who sadly passed away last year, but Miranda actor Hodge was honoured to join the series, which continues on Channel 5 in the UK and will air on PBS Masterpiece in the US at a later date.
We chatted to Patricia Hodge to find out more…
All Creatures Great and Small has been a huge hit. Have you enjoyed playing Mrs Pumphrey?
“Yes, Mrs Pumphrey’s a classic English eccentric. Her world is her dog, he keeps her going and the vets are her prop, she’s always there looking for ‘Uncle Herriot’ [Nicholas Ralph]! She’s the sort of woman I understand and who I’ve known through my life.”
What was it like sharing scenes with Derek, the dog who plays Tricki Woo?
“He’s the most unbelievable animal I’ve ever worked with. Derek has this extraordinary laid-back quality, he loves human kindness and is putty in your hands. It was so easy for me to love him, I like to think it’s a love affair! But all animals are scene-stealers, they’re far more interesting than we are.”
Were you a fan of the show before?
“Yes, it’s absolutely lovely. Living in a time of seismic change, as we are now, nostalgia’s a big thing. I think it’s a comfort blanket. So when I was asked to join, it was an easy ‘yes’. The cast were lovely too. I’ve known Sam [West, who plays head vet Siegfried] for years and I felt like I was part of the team from day one. They just completely absorbed the new incarnation.”
Did you enjoy immersing yourself in the 1930s, when the show is set?
“Oh, I’m always happier being in that period than I am being in a contemporary one! It’s so charming. Getting into costume I’d say, ‘Mrs Pumphrey would never go out without a hat or gloves on.’ Because my grandmother never did. And the first time I walked into the veterinary surgery, it looked beautiful, you just feel like it’s a time warp.”
What are you doing next?
“Murder in Provence, which is a lovely series for ITV and Britbox starring [Endeavour’s] Roger Allam, as a French investigative judge who looks at murder cases. I’m the mother of his partner who is played by [Father Brown’s] Nancy Carroll. But I didn’t get to go to Provence. I did all my stuff in the middle of Oxfordshire!”
Could Miranda return?
“I don’t think there’d be any more, Miranda [Hart] felt that she’d done it. But never say never. It was a lovely team and we’re all still in touch. What’s amazing is that an entire generation has grown up that wouldn’t know me from a bar of soap but Miranda suddenly put me in touch with all these young people and I couldn’t believe it. She was a goddess for girls who felt they didn’t fit the mould.”