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Grantchester - first look

Published: Mon 16 Jun 2014

“As a priest, isn’t everything our business?  There’s no part of the human heart which is not our responsibility” – Sidney Chambers
 
James Norton will play the role of Sidney Chambers in new six-part drama Grantchester.
 
Robson Green (Reckless, Wire In The Blood) will join him as plain speaking, over-worked Police Inspector, Geordie Keating.  
 
Set in 1953 in the beautiful county of Cambridgeshire, Sidney’s unlikely partnership with gruff, down to earth Geordie is central to Grantchester.  Geordie’s methodical approach to policing complements Sidney’s more intuitive techniques of coaxing information from witnesses and suspects.  
 
They are partners in crime and forge a true friendship as each offers a different insight into the crimes they begin to unravel.
 
Morven Christie (Hunted, Twenty Twelve) will play beautiful heiress Amanda Kendall, whose love for Sidney, although reciprocated, doesn’t have a future, as her father wants her to marry an aristocratic beau.  
 
Tessa Peake-Jones (Marchlands and of course Raquel in Only Fools and Horses) will play Sidney’s housekeeper, the indomitable Mrs Maguire who keeps him in check and does her best to keep his chaotic vicarage presentable and respectable. He also has gorgeous black Labrador puppy, Dickens, for company.
 
Kacey Ainsworth (EastEnders, Holby Blue) will play Geordie’s loving wife Cathy.  Cathy is a busy mother of three with a fourth child on the way.
 
Sidney’s moustachioed curate, Leonard Finch, will be played by Al Weaver (Southcliffe, Secret State), whilst pale, interesting and stunning widow, Hildegard Staunton, is played by German actress Pheline Roggan.
 
Adapted from the novel, ‘Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death’ by James Runcie, the series is written for ITV by Daisy Coulam, who has previously scripted EastEnders and Casualty.
 
The series has been commissioned from Lovely Day, a sister company of Kudos, and will be produced by Emma Kingsman-Lloyd (DCI Banks, Life of Crime, Lip Service) and executive produced by Lovely Day’s Managing Director and founder Diederick Santer (Cutting It, Jane Eyre, EastEnders).  The Lead Director for the series will be Harry Bradbeer (Prisoners’ Wives, The Hour, The Cops, This Life). 
 
Set against the backdrop of the real hamlet of Grantchester, the drama focuses upon the life of Sidney Chambers, a charismatic, charming clergyman who turns investigative vicar when one of his parishioners dies in suspicious circumstances.     
 
A tall and handsome man with a love of warm beer and hot jazz, Sidney is self-effacing, great company and a true romantic.  He conscientiously undertakes his parish duties at the church of St Andrew and St Mary’s, and has the ear of his congregation who respect his unique moral insights and dry humour.  Sidney thinks the best of people, but intuitively asks all the right questions which often results in an epiphany!  
 
Troubled by nightmares and recurring flashbacks to the time he served in the Scot’s Guards, Sidney is the moral compass of the drama with a desire to put right the wrongs of the past  – “we cannot erase our pasts however hard we try.  Instead we must carry them with us into the future.”
 
Filming of the six part series begins this month (March 2014) in London, Cambridge and Grantchester and shooting will continue until June.
 
The drama has been commissioned for ITV by Director of Drama Steve November and Controller of Drama Victoria Fea.
 
“Grantchester is an exciting commission for ITV Drama and we’re delighted to be working with Diederick Santer,” said Steve.  “Daisy Coulam’s scripts are vivid and beautifully written with some wonderful characters at the heart of the stories. There’s an emotional truth and gravity to this series which makes it a very compelling drama.”  
 
Executive Producer Diederick Santer said: “Grantchester is a real labour of love for me and Lovely Day.  Sidney is a charming, but complex character, a man of faith burdened by his past despite a distinguished wartime record, he’s funny, dashing and inquisitive.  He loves being a parish priest in the exquisite village of Grantchester, but somehow it’s not enough and he still finds time to fall in and out of love and solve crimes. James Runcie has created this brilliant character and this glorious world, which Daisy Coulam is now bringing to the screen in her wonderful and lavish scripts, and I can’t wait for ITV’s audience to get to know him too.”
 
Also joining the cast are Fiona Button as Sidney’s younger sister Jennifer Chambers, Ukweli Roach as Jennifer’s boyfriend, Johnny Johnson, Tom Austen as Guy Hopkins and Pip Torrens as Amanda’s aristocratic father, Sir Edward Kendall.
 
Note to Editors:
 
‘Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death’ is James Runcie’s first novel in the projected series of six books, entitled The Grantchester Mysteries.  The series has been commissioned by Bloomsbury who began publishing a volume each year from 2012 until 2017.  
 
James has a second novel in print – ‘Sidney Chambers and the Peril of the Night’ – and the third novel is due for publication this year.  Each volume contains six inter-connected stories that feature the clergyman detective. 
 
James has written several other novels including:  The Discovery of Chocolate; The Colour of Heaven; Canvey Island; East Fortune.
 
James is the son of ex-Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie. 
 
Lovely Day is a production company founded by Diederick Santer in 2010, with Kudos. Working with UK and international broadcasters, and with the finest established and up-and-coming British TV talent, Lovely Day is fast becoming a trusted maker of distinctive, loved and popular TV drama and comedy entertainment.