Quaint, charm­ing and deadly

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television Free To Air - Fa­ther Brown Christ­mas Spe­cial,

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,

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