The Weekend Australian - Review

New vicar has rolled into town

- Sun­day, 8.35pm, ABC. Entertainment · ITV · Grantchester · Grantchester · England · James Norton · Cambridge · Cambridgeshire · Robson Green · Tom Brittney · Oliver Dimsdale

Some in­ter­net wag in a cha­t­room re­cently de­scribed Bri­tish crime shows as “small vil­lage de­tec­tive things,” and it’s as good a de­scrip­tion as any of ITV’s pe­riod who­dunit Grantch­ester, which now de­buts its re­cent and strong fifth sea­son of a half-dozen episodes on the ABC, the pro­gram’s long-time Aus­tralian home.

For the ben­e­fit of new­com­ers, Grantch­ester is a vil­lage in Cam­bridgeshir­e, Eng­land, some 3km south of the city known for its sto­ried uni­ver­sity.

In the 1950s, World War II vet­eran and now De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Ge­ordie Keat­ing (TV vet­eran, singer and an­gler Robson Green) works the crime beat, which is busier than one might imag­ine given the bu­colic ru­ral set­ting. For the first three se­ries, DI Keat­ing was aided in his in­quiries by Angli­can vicar and for­mer Scots Guard of­fi­cer Sid­ney Cham­bers (James Nor­ton), whose gen­tle and me­thod­i­cal ap­proach to­wards ques­tion­ing wit­nesses and sus­pects bal­anced the po­lice­man’s gruff and more cyn­i­cal de­meanour.

Telling one in­ter­viewer there were “other con­flicted souls to ex­plore,” Nor­ton left the show am­i­ca­bly in early 2019, and has worked steadily since (he was John Brooke in last year’s ac­claimed new film ver­sion of Lit­tle Women).

Vet­eran Mas­ter­piece strate­gist and Grantch­ester co-ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Re­becca Ea­ton steered the nar­ra­tive to pro­vide an or­derly tran­si­tion, promis­ing au­di­ences would love the new vicar. And thus far they do: 27-year-old Tom Brit­tney (Outlander, Call the Mid­wife) has quickly be­come a fan favourite as the Rev­erend Wil­liam Daven­port, a vol­un­tar­ily celi­bate for­mer in­ner-city chap­lain from a trou­bled back­ground who favours mo­tor­cy­cles, rock’n’roll and box­ing.

In the sea­son’s first case, Keat­ing and Daven­port, who in­sists on be­ing called Will, are sum­moned to one of three women’s col­leges in the area when stu­dent Jessica Hall is found float­ing face-up in a river. The sus­pects in­clude a rude group of Cam­bridge men, some sus­pi­ciously cir­cuitous class­mates of the de­ceased and lo­cal waiter Matthew But­ler (Jim Caesar).

Promis­ing sto­ry­lines man­i­fest them­selves not only in But­ler’s arc but the first ap­pear­ance of pushy young jour­nal­ist El­lie Hard­ing (Lauren Carse), who has a way of trick­ing Will into re­veal­ing bits of in­for­ma­tion but also seems to like him. “I wouldn’t bother, he’s celi­bate,” Keat­ing ad­vises. “Oh, you’re that Will,” she re­torts, neatly lay­ing the ground­work for what prom­ises to be an in­ter­est­ing di­men­sion to the sea­son. “Should change your name to Won’t.”

Grantch­ester has al­ways ben­e­fited from sit­u­a­tions and sto­ry­lines both bal­anced and me­thod­i­cal. On­go­ing sub­plots fea­ture gay Angli­can cu­rate Leonard Finch (Al Weaver) and his blos­som­ing re­la­tion­ship with lo­cal pho­tog­ra­pher Daniel Mar­lowe (Oliver Dims­dale), the vicarage’s deeply reli­gious house­keeper Sylvia (Tessa Peake-Jones) and Will’s re­cently wid­owed mother Amelia (Jemma Red­grave), with whom he has a rather tense re­la­tion­ship.

Hav­ing seam­lessly and suc­cess­fully in­jected new blood into a con­sis­tently re­ward­ing small vil­lage thing, Grantch­ester con­tin­ues to pro­vide eco­nom­i­cal genre plea­sures for fans of gen­teel mys­ter­ies that ex­hibit just enough of the real world’s naugh­ti­ness with­out up-end­ing the fa­mil­iar and thus re­as­sur­ing so­cial or­der.

Grantch­ester,

 ??  ?? Tom Brit­tney as Rev­erend Will Daven­port and Robson Green as Ge­ordie Keat­ing in Grantch­ester
Tom Brit­tney as Rev­erend Will Daven­port and Robson Green as Ge­ordie Keat­ing in Grantch­ester

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