Quaint, charming and deadly
Mark Williams as Father Brown, a charming Catholic priest who excels at solving crimes and tracking down the culprits There is something rather magical about Father Brown, the bicycle-riding Catholic priest with an intuitive skill for solving mysteries, played so convincingly by Mark Williams in this finely cinematic BBC series. (It is based on the character created by GK Chesterton, the Catholic apologist and crime writer who it’s been suggested was the first person to use the phrase “mystery story”.)
In the sleepy village of Kembleford, nestled in the golden Cotswolds, it is the 1950s and the number of murders rivals the corpse count tallied up in each episode of Midsomer Murders. The constabulary, headed by Inspector Valentine (Hugo Speer), is routinely outwitted and shown up by Father Brown, who co-opts his parish circle of amateur sleuths to assist him in tracking down killers and kidnappers.
These cohorts are his no-nonsense housekeeper Mrs McCarthy (played with eyerolling impishness by Sorcha Cusack), society grand-dame Lady Felicia Montague (Nancy Carroll) and her shifty chauffeur Sid (Alex Price).
In the true tradition of a cosy crime charmer, the villains are scurrilous and misguided rather than downright dangerous, and the details of the postwar period are all meticulously in place, from big, black motor cars to stiff-skirted frocks and little hats.
Father Brown always wins the day, Lady Felicia has her customary attacks of the vapours, and Mrs McCarthy is reliably on hand with a nice cup of tea to celebrate another case closed, even if the good priest would clearly prefer something much stronger. For this Christmas special, we’re promised a mysterious stranger, a missing donkey, an outbreak of laryngitis and a kidnapped baby. 7.20pm, ABC. Saturday,