Maxine Peake experienced some trouble with her animal co-stars on the set of the new series of period drama The Village.

The actress, who plays poverty-stricken farmer’s wife Grace Middleton in the acclaimed BBC1 period drama, which returns next month, has told TV & Satellite Week that some of cows were less than co-operative during filming.

“Last series I was punched and had to go down in the mud and get cow poo in my mouth, which made me worry that I needed a tetanus and I became a bit of hypochondriac,” laughs Maxine, who was Bafta-nominated for her role.

“This time there have been a lot of milking incidents. I had to hold the cow while John Simm [who plays Grace’s husband John] was milking it, but in reality it had already been milked, and it didn’t like its udders being touched, so as soon as John touched it, I ended up going down the hill with it. I managed to stay on my feet, but everyone was shouting, ‘Let go of the cow’!”

Even the younger bovine cast members have caused a stir on set this time around.

“We had a bit of a temperamental calf. It was only six days old, bless it, it didn’t quite know how to lie down so when it was tired it just threw itself to the floor as you were walking along, but it was very sweet,” says Maxine, who decided to name the calf after one of her political heroes.

“We called it Tony after Tony Benn because we filmed with it just after I had been to Tony Benn’s funeral, so it became the Tony Benn memorial calf!”