ACTRESS Patricia Hodge will replace Dame Diana Rigg as Mrs Pumphrey in series 2 of All Creatures Great and Small, which will air on Channel 5 later this year.

All Creatures, based on the hugely-popular books by Thirsk vet James Herriot (real name Alf Wight) follows the lives and loves of country vets James Herriot and Siegfried and Tristan Farnan in the fictional Dales village of Darrowby in the 1930s.

The role of Mrs Pumphrey, the eccentric owner of pampered Pekingese Tricki Woo, was one of Dame Diana’s last TV appearances. The episode in which she appeared for the final time was dedicated to the actress.

Sir Colin Callender, the TV show’s executive producer, said: “We were deeply saddened by the passing of Dame Diana Rigg who will always be a treasured member of the All Creatures family. Mrs Pumphrey and her overly indulged Pekingese, Tricki Woo, are such iconic and cherished characters in Herriot’s world and we are delighted to welcome the wonderful Patricia Hodge.”

Series 2 will see the return of Nicholas Ralph as James, Samuel West as Siegfried, Anna Madeley as Mrs Hall, the kind-hearted matriarch of Skeldale House, and Rachel Shenton as Helen.

Viewers can expect ‘more heart-warming stories from the Dales with a characterful ensemble of farmers, animals and townsfolk living in 1930s Yorkshire’, Channel 5 says.

More important, they’ll be able to see whether James and Helen get together. Series 1 ended on a cliffhanger, with Helen standing up her intended Hugh at the altar.The original books by James Herriot on which the series is based became a global phenomenon. Never out of print, the books have sold 60 million copies, with devoted fans around the world.

Series 2 will consist of a further six episodes, plus a Christmas Special, and is expected to air on Channel 5 later this year.