What happened to the original Siegfried from All Creatures Great and Small?

All Creatures Great and Small: Samuel West teases future series

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All Creatures Great and Small has been airing on Channel 5 and the second season saw James Herriot (played by Nicholas Ralph) return to Darrowby. He debated moving back to Glasgow to take on a new job but chose to stay under Siegfried Farnon’s (Samuel West) leadership. The story has been told on the small screen before and here’s what happened to the original Siegfried actor.

What happened to the original Siegfried Farnon?

All Creatures Great and Small is based on the life of Alf Wight, the esteemed vet from Yorkshire.

He would write stories about his work under the pen name James Herriot and his tales provided readers with a sense of escapism.

His stories have been adapted for the small screen on a number of occasions, and the first TV series aired back in 1978.

The original All Creatures Great and Small aired on the BBC for 90s episodes, up until 1990.

James’ boss Siegfried was played by Robert Hardy for all seven seasons.

Sadly the British actor died back in 2017, at the age of 91, whilst living at a home for retired actors.

He had a fruitful career in theatre, film and TV, and was known for playing many memorable characters.

Viewers may recognise him as Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter film series and Winston Churchill in several adaptations.

For his role as the original Siegfried in All Creatures Great and Small, he was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actor.

He started his career as a classical actor, working with stars such as Dame Diana Rigg.

She would later go on to play Mrs Pumphrey in the first season of the new adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small.

One of Hardy’s most memorable and long-term roles was as the uptight senior veterinary surgeon of Skeldale House.

One of his final TV roles was as Winston Churchill in Churchill: 100 Days That Saved Britain in 2015.

BBC archive footage shows Hardy speaking about how he was worried the people of Yorkshire would dislike the adaptation.

He said: “I thought we would annoy the country people because they would say ‘it’s all wrong’.

“But I was wrong, because people love it and they loved it all over the world, it’s the most extraordinary thing.”

Speaking about Herriot’s real boss, he said: “He was an eccentric, and like real eccentrics, he had no idea he was eccentric.

“He was just marvellous, I loved him dearly.” The real Donald Sinclair apparently said he ‘hated’ what Hardy did with the character.

He commented: “He said I was too cross, too eccentric. But I have to say in my own defence, he hated it but my close friends would say ‘that’s him, he doesn’t know it’.”

Regarding his personal life, Hardy married Elizabeth Fox in 1952 and their marriage lasted until 1956.

He then went on to marry Sally Pearson in 1961, and they had two children together.

One of the star’s latest film roles was in In Familia back in 2017, in which he played Ashton Leonard.

In the 2020 adaptation, Siegfried is played by Sam West, the actor and theatre director who is also known for voicing documentaries.

All Creatures Great and Small airs on Thursdays at 9pm on Channel 5.

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