All Creatures Great and Small’s Helen star details regret over quitting series

All Creatures Great and Small: Season 2's happy ending

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The All Creatures Great and Small reboot has become one of Channel 5’s most-watched shows. The uplifting series draws inspiration from the working life of esteemed Yorkshire vet James Herriot (played by Nicholas Ralph). The original series was also a huge success, with actress Carol Drinkwater being the highest-paid actress at the BBC when she played James’ love interest, Helen. Looking back at the original series, Drinkwater has now opened up on regretting leaving the hit drama. 

When All Creatures Great and Small arrived on our screens last autumn, the charming series proved to be perfect viewing for pandemic escapism.

The Channel 5 drama made its highly-anticipated return for its second season in September and came to an emotional end last month after six episodes.

Reflecting on the reboot as well as the original series, Drinkwater admitted she wouldn’t have left the Yorkshire-based programme if she could turn back time.

Drinkwater left the role of Helen in All Creatures Great and Small after 42 episodes and two films.

She decided to leave after she met her husband Michel in Australia who had proposed almost immediately after a “love at first sight” encounter.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post from her home in southern France, the Drinkwater explained: “I was already thinking about leaving because I felt that there was no more stretch for Helen.

“They wanted to stay very strictly to the books because Alf was alive and at that stage, he was quite adamant that they did.

“And I didn’t feel that there was anywhere else I could take Helen, I thought that.

“I’d reheated that teabag – ‘Oh James, let me make you a cup of tea’ – enough times and unless there was new material for me I felt that it was time for me to move on.

“And I was getting lots and lots of offers because the series was very successful.”

However, the 73-year-old added: “Having said that, if I had my time over again, I wouldn’t have left it.

“I feel I could have achieved all the things that I have achieved and continued with the show, but you know, that’s life.”

It’s been more than 40 years since the star has had to speak about All Creatures Great and Small which the BBC adapted in 1978.

She explained: “It was one of those jobs where I would never wake up in the morning and think I don’t want to go to work.

“I always felt happy to get out of bed, and to be going to work with that group of people, that crew, the cast.”

After Drinkwater’s departure from the series, she was replaced by actress Lynda Bellingham who also starred in Doctor Who and appeared as a panellist on Loose Women.

In the All Creatures reboot, Helen was played by award-winning actress Rachel Shenton who is starring in a Christmas special scheduled to air before the end of 2021.

With the show’s growing popularity, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to know there should be a third season.

All Creatures Great And Small episodes can be streamed on My5. 

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