James Norton (Happy Valley, War and Peace) reprises his role as Sidney Chambers, the charismatic, charming, crime-fighting clergyman, and Robson Green (Strikeback, Wire In The Blood) returns as his partner in crime, Detective Inspector Geordie Keating, in the second series of Grantchester.
In episode one, it’s 1954, and just outside the Cambridgeshire village of Grantchester, local vicar Sidney Chambers (James Norton) is enjoying a glorious picnic with his best friend, DI Geordie Keating (Robson Green), Geordie’s family, Sidney’s shy curate Leonard Finch (Al Weaver) and their grumpy housekeeper Mrs Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones). Walking home, their happy day is cut short when DC Phil Wilkinson (Lorne Macfadyen) arrests Sidney – and the charge is sexual assault.
Doting father Harding Redmond (Neil Morrissey) is the source of the accusation, horrified at the claims made in the diary of his teenage daughter, Abigail (Gracie Brooke), who has now gone missing, along with the diary itself. We caught up with the man playing the accused , sleuthing reverand, James Norton
What response have you had from members of the public following series one of Grantchester?
It’s been very positive and lots of people have been asking when there’s going to be a second series. There seems to be a real devotion to it, which is lovely. Generally if people have watched one or two episodes they’ve watched them all and they love it, which is fantastic. We feel blessed by the response and the Grantchester fans seem very loyal. They know everything about it and they love all the different elements from Dickens the dog to all the other characters. Robson and I have talked about how blessed we feel by the response. It’s testament to the show. It’s warm and affectionate and feels like a happy place that people want to return to. It’s got that bite but it’s also warm escapism.
What was it like being reunited with the cast for series 2?
It was lovely. It’s reassuring how quickly it all comes back. You realise that all those relationships and interactions and dynamics are all bedded in. It’s a nice back catalogue of memories so the second series was so easy because you’ve got all these memories you created for the first series.
What was it like returning to the real Grantchester village where the series is filmed?
It’s lovely and feels like home from home. First time around I think the villagers initially were slightly wary but this time, for them to have gone through the experience of one series, watched and enjoyed it and then have us back again, was great. It was lovely because they seemed really happy to have us back which makes such a difference.
Our relationship with the village itself is so important to the show.
When I stand up in front of the congregation most of them are the real villagers from Grantchester (they were invited to be extras) and they are the same faces from the first series. It’s so nice for me to see them again and to get to learn more of their names and have relationships with them as individuals – it helps it become more like a true village church in the 50s. We were very grateful and so touched that they were happy to have us back and visa versa.
At the beginning of episode one, Sidney is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a teenager. This is not the Sidney we know. Is this series a little darker than the previous series?
That moment (of Sidney being accused), which is early on, sets the tone for this series. I think it will surprise people. Having spent the first series establishing all the characters and the relationships and allowing the audience to grew an affection towards those people, it feels that with the second series we’ve earned the right to thwart those relationships and threaten them and put them through their paces. Now the relationships are established we’re spending more time on the plot for each episode and also on the overarching narrative. Now we can also take more risks and be a bit darker. The writing generally feels like it’s got more of an edge to it.
Grantchester, ITV, Wednesday, 9pm