By Tania Phillips
ABC TV, Sunday, 8.30pm
IT’S a genre that the Brits do best – Sunday crime shows with a mismatched pair solving the murder of the week. But there’s something that sets Grantchester just a little apart and above your Midsomer Murders, Lewis and co.
Based on a collection of short stories by James Runcie (son of former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie), Grantchester teams Anglican priest and former Scots Guards officer Sidney Chambers (James Norton) with overworked Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green).
Unlike many of the crime shows of this genre each series (and we’re up to the third series now) also has an ongoing thread running through it and is more a series (like Broadchurch without the grumpy Scotsman) and less a set of stand-alone episodes.
This series seems to be carrying the theme of falling in love with the wrong person.
Set in Cambridge in the ’50s there is also something warm, homely and believeable about Grantchester – not that either character (the hard-drinking Chambers or the adulterous Keating) is about to be given a sainthood but they seem like people we know or at least remember from our past.
Built around them is a typical English ’50s town filled with the sense of priority and values of the day, but this is not quite that ’50-’60s teatime staple like Heartbeat or Call The Midwife. It’s also not quite Endeavour, Frost or Broadchurch but sits somewhere in-between.
So why does it work? And yes it does work, so much so that ABC are fast-tracking it from the UK so we Aussies can watch it within six days of the Brits. Well that would be down to smart writing and great chemistry between the leads.
We believe Sid and Geordie’s friendship and we believe the characters – and like them warts and all.
Of course having a great supporting cast lead by the disapproving Mrs Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones) as Sidney’s very religious housekeeper and closeted gay curate Leonard Finch (Al Weaver) doesn’t harm things either.
This series we also see the introduction of former Doctor Who star Peter Davison as a bigoted local solicitor.
In a market overcrowded with mismatched crimefighters, Grantchester seems to something just a little bit out of the ordinary.