Al Weaver Still Learns From Playing Leonard Finch

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After six seasons in a single role, you might think Al Weaver has fully centered his performance as literary village curate, Leonard Finch. But in this serialized sixth season, there’s still emotional and dramatic depth to uncover, which Weaver does with great skill. Weaver explains what he’s learned about himself in playing Leonard, and what it felt like to film in the midst of a pandemic.

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Transcript

Jace Lacob: I’m Jace Lacob, and you’re listening to MASTERPIECE Studio.

We’d caution listeners about spoilers in this episode of the podcast, but we’re fairly confident any casual viewer of Grantchester by now is aware that village curate Leonard Finch is a partially closeted gay man. So his public admission of that fact while under police custody is remarkable — and actionable.

CLIP

Leonard “To thine own self be true.” Isn’t that how it goes? The allegation made by Bryan Stanford. It’s true. He was not lying about seeing me in bed with another man.

Jace For the past six seasons, Leonard has struggled with his sense of self, only recently fully accepting his feelings for photographer Daniel Marlowe as valid and worthy of pursuit. So his confession is both progress — and a source of legal peril.

CLIP

Leonard How can I stand in front of our congregation again? Walk into a…a post office? I ran! I ran out and I didn’t defend myself.

Will I did, and Reeny will, I’m — I’m sure.

Leonard And the Archdeacon will be happy with that, will he?

Jace Sexual activity between two men was completely illegal in the United Kingdom until 1967 — nearly a full decade away from this current season of Grantchester — making Leonard’s confession to what was then a crime punishable by jail time far more than a simple coming out story.

CLIP

Will I know Leonard is happier living his life with just a single degree more honesty. Now if that makes me guilty too, then so be it.

Archdeacon We all knew of Mr Finch’s…peculiarities. But there’s knowing what he is and there’s allowing him to act upon it. I had hoped that you would’ve guided him away from such temptations.

Jace Actor Al Weaver never imagined he’d still be playing Leonard Finch today when he first signed up for the role seven years ago, but the seasoned village veteran has grown into the role, and into himself, these past six seasons. Weaver joins us to discuss Leonard, love and the rest of this serialized season.

Jace We are joined this week by Grantchester star Al Weaver. Good to speak to you again.

Al Weaver Very nice to speak to you again.

Jace This season begins with holiday as the Grantchester gang heads to the fictional Merries’ Holiday Camp for a trip that becomes memorable for less than positive reasons. Before we get to that, I just want to know, what was it like filming the scene set at Merries’, particularly during a global pandemic?

Al It was very nice, it was lovely. It was very cold, it’s just…What it was, I think what it was is that everyone was so, so happy to be working and out in the real world again. There’s just lots of love flying around. And everyone was kind of just very joyous and happy to be around. And it was really nice. It was really, really special. Lovely.

Jace I mean, personally, I’m amazed that the crew was able to recreate this 1950s period British holiday camp during a pandemic, a national lockdown in Britain. I mean, given the fact that you guys were under lockdown for a lot of 2020, was it surreal to see these holiday chalets, after everything that had been going on?

Al Yeah, I mean, it was beautiful. What they did with the design was really something special. It was absolutely gorgeous. Yeah, it was lovely. And it’s a credit to the design team. And once again, they did an extremely good job.

CLIP

Roy Sunny. Would you mind showing these fine folk to their chalets please?

Sunny Absolutely, Mr Reeves.

Geordie Castanet class…

Roy Ta-dah.

Sunny I hope you’re all ready for a merry time!

Everyone Yep, Yes.

Sunny Doesn’t sound very merry to me. Are you ready for a merry time?!

Everyone YES!

Sunny Yes!

Jace And the Grantchester team is a rather tight knit bunch. You know, while this was definitely work, was there an atmosphere of escapism or even a sort of team bonding to shooting that first episode back?

Al Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I think as soon as we all go on set, we’re all just absolutely sort of elated. And just to see something from just really happy just to be outside of the house, to be able to do our job. And the writers did a fantastic job because we were meant to start shooting it at the start of June. And obviously that couldn’t happen. But we started as soon as we could. And it’s a weird one because you’ve got obviously set in the summer and it’s this holiday camp and, you know, so there’s a lot of CGI — the trees. The trees are different colors, you’ve got to change the leaves, and the sky is blue. And it was very cold and rainy and the magic of the screen. So, yes, it was, they just did a fantastic job. And we had some lovely people. I mean, obviously, Bryan, Michael he plays Bryan Stanford, the guy who is now blackmailing me. He was lovely. Rachael Stirling came on. She was great, we had all the stuff inside with the comedy and just, a really lovely bunch of people and everyone was just so happy to be working. We had a really good time, we always have a good time. We always have a laugh. But yeah, this is even more so I think.

Jace You mentioned Bryan Stanford. Leonard meets Merries’ photographer Bryan, with whom he bonds over a shared love of Russian novelists and an understanding about feeling alone even or especially when surrounded by people. What does Leonard make of Bryan initially and how much of himself does he see in this man?

Al I think we saw was a really nice moment, a really nice scene, the end of episode two after Bryan after Will has given the money and if this sort of scene on the meadows and it makes Leonard really quite sad because he recognizes the loneliness that Bryan’s going through and the sort of pain that being a gay man in that time has has on a person.

CLIP

Leonard I’m sorry if you feel that I rejected you, but that’s why-

Bryan Rejected me? You didn’t reject me, I was testing ya! I could smell it on you, what you are, what you do. In love with another man – it’s disgusting, it’s unnatural, I’m glad you haven’t got the money-

Will Hey!

Bryan I told you what he is. What he does-

Will He’s my friend.

Bryan He’s a liar!

Will You have no idea what you’re talking about.

Leonard Will!

Will You’re just a small-minded little bully who thought what? He was an easy target to make an extra couple of quid? Well, here’s your money. I hope you’re proud of yourself.

Bryan You’ve got it all, haven’t you? Friends, lovers. I should’ve known you lot’d close ranks. I won’t be making that mistake again.

Will No, you won’t.Al Yeah, he definitely recognizes all that in Bryan, and Leonard is the ultimate you know, empathy is his badge of honor. He’s got so much of it and he’s got so much time and patience for people that even when he’s being blackmailed, he can kind of see the other side of the coin and understand where all that is coming from, where all that frustration in Bryan’s coming from, which is, again, it’s just Leonard being lovely. it’s a gift and a curse, isn’t it? Because I think when you’re really empathetic, you can get hurt, it’s exposing. You’re always putting yourself out there as well. But it’s endless with him. He’s just he always sees the good in someone. And he always want to see the goodness in someone, he just has this pure love. He just wants to help people. That’s all he wants to do. And yeah, and even in this moment, he’s still thinking, you know, ‘If I can just get through to him, make him understand that I am I am scared. But I also have the feelings that you have that I don’t have all those things. And I think he says, ‘I’d lose my family, my job, my home, you know, something about his father. You know, he’s really trying to sort of reckon with him. And obviously, Bryan is far too angry and then we think it’s all fine. Then we think it’s fine, that he’s got his money and he’ll go away. And then obviously we see at the end of ep two, he’s with the Archbishop.

Jace I mean, how much of Leonard’s reaction here — that notion of sadness, of empathy — is that Bryan is sort of Leonard through a glass darkly? This is sort of Leonard that might have been — bitter and lonely and self-loathing. Is there a moment of sort of identification with that?

Al I think 100 percent, I’d say that’s exactly what he sees. And when he says to Will, sort of, you know, ‘I felt what he felt,’ or something like that, but, yeah, I mean, it just, to sort of see the other side of the mirror and see where you could have been is not a nice thing. And also seeing so many men of that time who were in Bryan’s position, probably very, very angry and bitter and lonely and sad and just wanting what everybody else wants, but they weren’t allowed to have it. And that’s horrific. So, yes.

Jace I mean, he is so sort of gently understanding in the scene, when they talk about the world and feeling different. He says, ‘Being different isn’t so terribly bad, better than being something you’re not.’ Can we talk about how far Leonard has come at this point ,from his broken engagement to Hillary and his suicide attempt, to a sort of self-aware, self actualized Leonard Finch here?

Al I’m telling you now, if I’m honest, there’s not many arcs in television like Leonard’s. It’s quite remarkable and I’ve been absolutely honored to be given the opportunity to play Leonard. I really do, and every year, especially after the pandemic that happened, so blessed and grateful to Daisy Coulam the sort of head writer and Emma Kingsman Lloyd and Diedrich and, you know, everybody sort of producing the show, you know, it’s incredible that they’ve taken on an insane journey and it’s also it’s going where what we do next in this season’s just…I mean, I watched I watched episode two with my mother — we missed Friday night, we watched it on the Sunday. And I was cringing because I just don’t like watching myself on television, but especially Leonard because  he’s such a character. I’m just trying to look at everything I’m doing wrong. ‘Oh, God, I wish I had said more with my Ts there, that was very period.’ And my mother’s just going, ‘Oh, my God, Leonard, Oh no Leonard, Oh, my God.’ This is the response so far has been it’s been quite an amazing response. I think people really, really feel for him. They just keep throwing everything at him and he survives and in terms of him, I think he’s he’s you know, we all want to be authentic, be our authentic selves. And that’s what we all struggle with and and try and if you try on a daily basis to be authentic and have integrity and and he more than anyone I’ve ever known in real life or in characters,he lives by, he wants to be the most truthful person. He can’t help himself. That’s why he gets carried away at the camp. And he’s got so much faith in people. And now he’s at this place where he can see someone like Bryan. Although he doesn’t see that again, he still Leonard so he obviously doesn’t see that Bryan is a gay man until Bryan obviously kisses him and then he’s like, ‘Oh, Jesus, oh gosh, what have I done? Did lead him on? I didn’t even see it.’ So that’s great, because it’s great for Leonard because that’s exactly what he’s like. You know, you just take people, you know, as they are and he just has a sort of an ability to just trust people so much. So, yes, I think he’s at such a good place for the start of six. I think he’s the happiest especially, even Mrs. C has kind of accepted the Daniel Leonard relationship, though, she doesn’t want to know in the Vicarage or really in her sight, but then go on holiday. And, you know, she accepts that they love each other as human beings and she’s got obviously that empathy for them also. Leonard’s in a very good place.

Jace So before Leonard leaves, Mary is there is not only a murder, of course, because this is Grantchester, but he’s caught in bed with Daniel by Bryan. When you got to this in the script, the first time you were reading it, were you surprised that this was where the storyline was kicking off?

Al I was actually yes, because what usually happens before, once we finish a season, I will call Daisy and Emma and we’ll go for some lunch somewhere nice in East London or something like that, and we will go, ‘This is what I would love to explore. If that fits in with your plans, can we find a medium?’ And so I very much wanted him to face consequences for this relationship. I wanted his arc to be very severe, really severe, and that, you know, to show what the world treated people like them. But what I didn’t know was how they were going to do it. And so when I read it, yeah, I was like, ‘Oh, God, that’s racy — in bed with Daniel again!’ Yeah, I was very surprised. But I just think I think it was really well handled. I think they’re really well-written. I think Daisy’s a genius.

Jace Leonard and Daniel had this sort of moment of stolen tenderness between them by the lake when Leonard wipes some ice cream off of Daniel’s face. And it’s that moment of tenderness that sort of seals Leonard’s doom in a way as Bryan catches it in a photograph. Then he tells Will about what he saw. He develops the photos, he blackmails Leonard. And in that one moment, Leonard sort of terror at being exposed at, being prosecuted becomes reality. Does he see the walls closing in when he gets that letter with the Leviticus passage?

CLIP

Will Since when did the diocese send homework?

Leonard It’s addressed to me.

Will Which verse in Leviticus? Leonard?

Leonard 18:22.

Will ‘You shall not lie with a male-’

Leonard ‘As with a woman. It is an abomination!’

Al Yeah, he yeah. I mean, yeah, 100 percent he does. I think you kind of see it in the scene. He’s just, ‘I shouldn’t have done that, I shouldn’t, we were careless, were stupid. Why did I think we could act like and not see any repercussions? Of course we’re not allowed to,’ you know, even though you know, it was only a wipe of ice cream there, obviously. But yeah, I think especially being Leonard as well, you know, a character who has very extreme emotions, who is so courageous and he’s so empathetic and insanely smart and well-read, but then at the same time, kind of terrible advice, but great at advice and. Yeah, yeah. I think that his fear is probably, that’s probably the most scared he’s ever been.

Jace Before this next question, a quick word from our sponsor…

Jace Episode three begins with Geordie and Larry questioning Leonard for the charge of gross indecency, after Bryan has taken his accusation to the police and to the Archdeacon. Geordie tries to be gentle and sort of help Leonard here. But Larry is not only blunt, but very aggressive, questioning Leonard about both the incident at Merries’ and about Daniel Marlowe. Leonard isn’t under caution at this point, but he lies about whom he was in bed with. Is his motivation here at this point not to protect himself, but to protect Daniel?

CLIP

Larry This is you, correct? So, who’s this fella?

Leonard Oh erm… …I’m not really, really not sure.

Larry You seem very familiar with him. Are you a homosexual, Mr Finch?

Leonard I have nothing more to say. You told me I’m not obliged to say anything.

Larry What about Daniel Marlowe? Photographer from your village. Allegations it’s him you were in bed with. So, he’s a pansy as well?

Geordie Alright.

Leonard I have nothing more to say.

Larry We’re gonna have to do this the hard way then.

Geordie Thank you, Leonard. That’s all for now.Al I mean, again, that’s sort of him just being, again, I guess so courageous, I would say, and he loves Daniel, he’s his everything. So yeah, he’s 100 percent protecting him and Daniel makes the choice not to say anything, that’s OK. And Leonard will take the hit because he could only live one way, that is as himself and truthfully. Him going there to make that confession to say, ‘I did do it,’ he didn’t have to do that. We see during the whole thing that Geordie is trying, Just give him a, just say no,’ he’s giving him an out, he’s giving him so many outs. And Leonard can’t do it, because he has to tell his truth. He has to be his truthful self. I think it’s so brave. And some people will go, ‘That’s stupid. You could have got away with it!’ But he’s kind of making a point to the world that he is Leonard Finch, isn’t he?

Jace At the same time, he is sort of looking at this as this is almost God’s judgment.

CLIP

Will Leonard.

Leonard I’m a fool.

Will You’re no fool —

Leonard One who thought, for a minute, he was in paradise, when he was really paving the road to hell.

Will Daniel said don’t give them anything and that’s what you did!

Jace Does he see what happened at Merries’ as this sort of moment of happiness or weakness that did doom him in a biblical sense?

Al I guess so, I never thought about it like that, I don’t think. I just yeah, I guess so when you say it like that. Yeah. And he is, he’s 100 percent testing God and saying, ‘Well, let’s see where the axe will fall.’ It’s a very strange thing he does, he’s kind of pushing for it, isn’t it? Because he knows the letter of the law and what he’s admitting to. But I guess because of the person he is, again, maybe naively that he thinks that maybe he’ll, because he’s a priest, that he does good things for people, that maybe they’ll kind of be able to, you know, not give him a heavy punishment. But, yeah, I think you’re right. I think I think you are right there

Jace Until now, Leonard and Mississippi have kept their distance since his interview, but he overhears her entire very heated exchange with Will and they sort of smash into each other in the hallway at the vicarage. There’s an awkwardness about how each of them will react. But all she can say to Leonard is, ‘Stupid boy.’ How devastated is Leonard in this moment with that reaction to this?

Al I think it’s yeah, again, it’s one of those absolutely crushing moments for him that he’s had all this faith instilled in him from people and this love that he’s always searched for. He feels like he’s betrayed that in a way. And he’s he’s really messed that up, and that hurts and hurts him enormously, especially when it comes to Mrs Chapman. And yet he still, even through all that, he still has to stick to his principles and say that what happened was true and face the consequences of that, even though people are disappointed. But yeah, I think it’s heartbreaking for him.

Jace Will uses the hustings to give an impassioned speech, but local politico Morris sort of tells everyone that Leonard has been accused of gross indecency. Leonard flees in horror. Why does Leonard run there? Why doesn’t he try to defend himself in that moment?

Al I think it’s one of those situations, isn’t it? It’s just sheer blind panic of just not knowing. It’s just a physical reaction of just flee. You know, I don’t think he’s thinking about it. He’s in so much shock that he’s just scared, he’s terrified…he’s terrified at the best of times. And I think that’s just, it was just a physical reaction, but it’s again, it’s really nice writing because it allowed, rather than him standing there and giving a speech allows him to then go, ‘Oh my God, this is the seriousness of what I’ve done, even if I didn’t get arrested or they don’t fine me or whatever the punishment may be, I still have to face everybody in that village and they’re going to be talking and whispering and judging and and saying what a horrible person I am or things like that,’ So, I mean, it’s awful. You know, we’re all, the biggest fear is what others think, isn’t it? If we could all just…me as a human being. I think the fear of what others think is literally what plagues my mind. I know it shouldn’t because you shouldn’t care. But you do. And it’s a lifetime’s work to not think that, but we all have it. And so, Jesus, yeah. He’s in a horrific position, God it’s so horrific, this storyline.

Jace You mentioned earlier that, you know, these people are Leonard’s family. The situation not only poses a threat to Leonard, but also to Will at this point. Leonard doesn’t want his mistakes to cost Will his vocation. But Will says that he had to say something. And I love Leonard’s response to that, which is, ‘You are a wonderful idiot sometimes.’ Is this the moment where Leonard does really see Will as his friend, as his brother in that moment?

Al Yeah, I think, yeah, 100 percent. I mean, there’s always those moments out there when you see a friend or someone do something that kind of defies what you think they were capable of. And, yeah, when he says what he says, then it’s like, yes, he is my brother. I think also building on that sort of relationship from last year, we kind of needed that to sort of I mean, and he pays the ransom as well, which is, again, a shock. So even though all his world is falling apart, they’ve cleverly managed to sort of solidify this kind of brotherhood between these two characters, which is really lovely to see. And I think it’s really nice for Tom’s character, for Will to sort of have those sides to him. And the audience grows with him, as well, to love him more because of again, he’s very much like Leonard. They’re just like, ‘This is who I am, and this is what I think,’ and I think that’s sort of their connection. They recognize that in each other and this sort of the bad things that can happen by doing that, but at least you are honest, at least you are authentic, at least you are true, and that’s kind of all you can be, isn’t it?

Jace in an episode full of curveballs, there is another one Mrs. C. begs Will to lie to save Leonard.

CLIP

Will Apologies, after you.

Mrs. C. It’s quite alright – I’m just err, popping out for a minute. Good day?

Will Fine. Well err, had better. I’m sorry I called you a — I’m sorry for what I said.

Mrs. C. Lie to them.

Will What?

Mrs. C. Please. I can’t lose my boy.

Jace It’s a surprising moment that Leonard overhears rather than is privy to directly. Is this the moment, Mrs. C urging Will of all people to lie to the police that ultimately compels Leonard to confess?

Al Yeah, I think so, because even he’s aware of what could happen to have someone else get in trouble or go against their principles, especially a religious person, who’s meant to be honest and truthful and to hear that he will have to do that, just that’s the last straw. And that’s when he goes in and confesses. I think he maybe he would have done it anyway. I think he probably would have done it anyway. Maybe he wouldn’t have. I don’t know, but it’s great writing that that’s sort of what launches him off the diving board into this sort of epic kind of journey that’s to come. Yeah, because you don’t want your family and friends to suffer because of your behavior. You could take responsibility and you’ve got to own up to it, which ultimately he does.

Jace Leonard does confess to being guilty of the crime. He lies about Daniel. He saves Daniel from prosecution. The episode ends with a shot of Leonard alone in the cells. For a character who has openly discussed his feelings of loneliness and isolation, this is a hell of an image to end an episode on. What is going through Leonard’s mind here in this moment of extreme isolation?

Al I would say, I think he’s very proud, it’s that weird one, isn’t? I think he’d be proud that he stood by his beliefs and he’s done the right thing for himself, but obviously he’s going to be terrified and he will face those consequences. I don’t think what happens he thinks is gonna happen, at all. So yeah, so I think just that kind of relief. You know, what it is actually is that relief of being true to yourself. And there is a sense of relief there. I mean, I’m sure, you know, very scared, but it’s that sort of, you know, if someone coming out to their parents and and saying, you know, ‘I’m gay,’ and then it’s that the fear of what will they react? How will they react, will they look at me differently? And then they go, ‘We love you. We love you son, it’s all right,’ it’’s that relief that you’ve been your authentic self. I keep saying authentic, because I think it’s  it’s so true with him. He’s such a good character. He’s very, very, very inspiring, Leonard, yes. He’s inspired me. He’s such a gift.

Jace Has he changed you? Has playing him changed you?

Al Yeah. I mean, yeah, I think it has in many ways. I think it’s as an artist, I think I’ve grown, and thanks to the writers who have given me stuff to do that has allowed me to grow, and as a human, I sort of I’m much more I mean, maybe because I’m older as well, we’ve been doing it seven years, but because…yeah, I’m much more relaxed. I’m much more empathetic towards people, and I try and think of others more. When you as an actor, I think you can get caught thinking of yourself a lot and it’s not a great quality, but sometimes it’s necessary. But I think he’s, yeah, just all his qualities, they rub off on you because it is hard, it’s hard not to turn a blind eye once when you see someone doing such noble, brave things and you go, ‘Wow, can I take those lessons and add them into my own life? Can I be more brave? Can I be more empathetic? Can I listen to others better? Can I not think, oh, I’ve got to be somewhere, can I really sort of, be there? Can I be an active listener? Practicing active listening. I realized I thought I listened but then I stopped listening. I mean, I’m sure a lot of people do. It’s active listening. It’s very tricky.

Jace But yeah, I mean, the world would be a better place if we all asked ourselves, ‘What would Leonard Finch do?’ He does come from such a place of empathy and kindness that I do think we need more Leonard Finches in the world. And it would be a better place if we had them. Grantchester is eight episodes this season. The unifying thread that runs through all eight is Leonard’s storyline. What does it mean to you to be able to tell the story across eight episodes and have the focus of this arc be placed on Leonard Finch?

Al It’s lovely. It’s an honor, really. They’ve been so kind. And also because we got given the eight episodes, because we’ve talked about these kind of storylines before, but in six episodes, it’s very difficult to do because you need the space. You got to let it breathe. You have to have this sort of slow progression so that the audience can be drawn in and then really explore those things. But because we got given the eight episodes, that finally was the sort of trigger to go, ‘Right. We can do something now,’ and yeah. It was absolutely, it was brilliant. And also because of the back of the back of, you know, coming out of Covid as well, sort of really get stuck into these storylines. It’s great. We’ve got you know, we’ve got to shoot away. We’ve got to shoot down near Glastonbury for a week, which was brilliant. It was so nice. And yeah, for me is that for me as an actor, I feel very, very, very grateful, very grateful. And I hopefully, you know, I try to be as truthful with Leonard as possible. And hopefully the audience will sort of really go through something with him this year. And hopefully it’s good drama, you know.

Jace One of the joys of watching sort of a long running ongoing series is seeing just how far the characters develop over time. Looking at sort of Leonard’s first appearance in episode, I think it’s the second episode of Grantchester, series one. It is amazing to me that over six series, we get a Leonard who moves from that first appearance to a Leonard in series six, who walks into a police station and confesses. That is an amazing arc to play over six series for any series, but it just speaks to the beauty and amazing quality of this show that it would be possible to get that character to this point, and I think that that’s just amazing. Few shows I would be brave enough to pull it off this far in the run. But the fact that Grantchester does, and does so beautifully, I think, is testament to the writing and to the actors. I don’t even really have a question there. It’s just, I am somewhat in awe that Grantchester pulls that off.

Al I appreciate that, I appreciate that. I’m very, very proud of the show. I’m very proud of Leonard and very proud to work with all the actors I’ve worked with in the show and and all the crew that we’ve had to work with. It really is, you know, there was a quote that we called it a happy place, and it really, really is. We’re filming series seven at the minute and we got lucky we got back to backs. So we finished season six, the one that’s on now and then we had three months off and then we have seven and yeah, I never thought in a million years I’d have done seven years of this. But the reason I have is because the people, and the stories and the people who make the show, they care about this show and they care about these characters and they care about the audience, they care about making good entertainment and the fact that they’ve been able to do it within the constraints of, you know, we’ve got to find a murderer a week, and things like that, it’s just it’s incredible what they’ve done. And, yeah, it’s an absolute blessing. So I appreciate that you appreciate that. Thank you, Jace.

Jace My pleasure. You turned 40 earlier this year.

Al Shut up! What?

Jace I’m part of that you that club, too.

Al I’m good with it. I actually love it. I love, being 40, it’s great.

Jace I would say, welcome to the 40-Plus Club. It’s it’s great. It’s great here. You have said, though, that you now feel like an elder statesman on the set of Grantchester. What did you mean by that?

Al Oh, well, I think what’s nice is as you get you know, as you get older, you get more chilled out, I think. And we had young people coming through, lots of young actors, quite newbies who come on this show. And it’s a really good learning curve for them. And so I love being there. I love being there to help them. And, you know, we’ve always been, we’re always prepared on this job. There’s no half-assing it. We all know our lines. We all care about what we’re doing. And so it means when we’re there, we can help the people when they need it. And for an example, like we were shooting some stuff for six and there was a couple of young actors there and it was all moving quite fast. And if you’re a young actor, you’re a guest, you don’t really know anyone, but you kind of need someone to speak up for you. So if it’s a case of like, ‘Do you feel like you got that?’ Like ‘I’ll ask the director and we can go again. I’ll say I made a mistake.’ You know, those sorts of things that you can do to make it easier for other people, you know, and that’s the Leonard effect. Maybe that’s what he’s done to me. And, you know, when my hair’s slapped down in a side part and I’ve got things I don’t know, but I’d like to think it’s sort of a part of life. But, yeah, that’s what I like about it. I like working with younger actors and helping those and making them feel better. Yeah, I am an elder statesman, you know I’m 41 in January. Bloody hell. It’s been so quick, these two years that we’ve lost!

Jace Yeah.

Al Oh, it’s just crazy. I mean, I started Grantchester when I was 33, which is mental. I can’t believe it. I never thought I’d be doing it at 40! I thought we’d have about three seasons you know, it’s just, it’s good writing and it’s one of those things Jace, where you just you don’t get these jobs a lot. And when I think back to season four, when James was leaving, I was thinking ‘That you don’t get these jobs a lot, you might never get it again. So appreciate it while you have it.’ And yeah, that’s that’s, it.

Jace Hold on to that happy place.

Al I’ll try to. Yeah.

Jace Al Weaver, thank you very much.

Al Oh, bless you man, thank you very much. That was lovely.

Jace We head to a different murder mystery case in our next podcast — and to modern day Budaphest, where freelance detective Julien Baptiste gets tangled up in a missing persons case involving the stern UK Ambassador to Hungary, Emma Chambers.

CLIP

Emma My son is dead. And you want to sit around and tell me it was some grand far-right conspiracy? I am done. I have one son left. Find him.

Jace The incomparable Fiona Shaw joins us October 31.

MASTERPIECE Studio is hosted by me, Jace Lacob, and produced by Nick Andersen. Elisheba Ittoop is our sound designer. The executive producer of MASTERPIECE is Susanne Simpson.

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