When Grantchester star Al Weaver was in drama school, his future Grantchester co-star, Tessa Peake-Jones, was his designated mentor. On screen this season, Weaver and Peake-Jones had a falling out, with their characters, Leonard and Mrs. C, nearly splitting after Leonard’s relationship with Daniel came to light. But in a new joint interview, the actors reveal that the hardest part of their fictional fight was not having scenes together.
Jace Lacob: I’m Jace Lacob, and you’re listening to MASTERPIECE Studio.
On its surface Grantchester is a show about murder. In every episode, after every village fete or before a rousing game of backgammon at the neighborhood pub, someone dies, violently. But the true heart and soul of the show lies in the thankfully murder-free vicarage, with Leonard Finch and Mrs. C.
Leonard: We don’t need a revolution here. A new broom, maybe? Or maybe even an old broom that you’d forgotten at the back the cupboard. But if you use it like Mrs Chapman wields hers at the vicarage, then we can all look forward to a fresh and happy future for many years to come.
Jace The closeted, nervous Leonard and stern, unflinching Mrs. C are often a source of comic relief on the show. But more recently, with the unexpected departure of Sidney Chambers, the other vicarage inhabitants have struggled to find their own paths without their wayward Reverend to keep them together.
Leonard: Please, will you just look at me?
Mrs. C You’ve forced me to make a very difficult decision, Leonard. I make it with a heavy heart.
Leonard What do you mean? What are you going to do?
Jace Tessa Peake-Jones was Al Weaver’s drama school mentor not so long ago. While Weaver might joke that Peake-Jones didn’t provide too much in terms of advice, their longstanding, real life relationship lends their onscreen banter a true sense of friendship.
Al Weaver She’s a joy. It’s always a joy. And now that we’ve decided to share a car together, because my house is on the way to her house. So I think they’re trying to save money, but…
Tessa Peake Jones I do buy you a custard every morning.
Al She buys me a custard every morning, and then we get our things, you know it’s nice. We’re good friends.
Jace After their own separate interviews on this podcast, we speak to Weaver and Peake-Jones together about a special season of family and fallouts. Later, series creator Daisy Coulam joins us to look ahead to the upcoming fifth season of Grantchester.
Jace And this week we are joined by Grantchester stars Al Weaver and Tessa Peake-Jones. Welcome.
Tessa Hello. Thank you.
Jace In many ways, the Leonard – Mrs. C dynamic is at the heart of the vicarage. What did you first make of the plan to separate these two in the wake of Sidney’s departure?
Al Yeah I think it’s good, I think it adds a good dimension it adds a bit of conflict and I think it’s sort of really worked, since it took the characters on a nice little journey that they hadn’t really been on before. So for me it was very exciting. What about you, Tess?
Tessa Yeah I agree. You know, Mrs. Chapman’s relationship with Leonard is quite maternal. And so I think the conflict, not only in terms of discovering about his sexuality, but then the… this, you know, will they be able to resolve it or won’t they going right through the series is, I think it’s added a real dimension to her character but also of course to the two of us.
Al Yeah. And that’s what it’s about isn’t it, it’s about pushing the characters into sort of new new areas and and trying to fill them, make them more three dimensional.
Jace I mean given that you’re in so many scenes together usually, what was it like on a personal level to have these two sort of… their scenes now loaded with so much tension and anger?
Tessa Actually I must say I found it quite upsetting this time because normally we have… you know, I think I speak for you too, Al. Well we have a very good working relationship and we respect each other and get on really well. And it’s always been so lovely. The humor, all the things that our characters when they have sort of interwoven before and this time I find it quite hard because there were times where we were virtually not speaking on set at all were we? As characters, and I found us as an actor, that was quite difficult, because I wanted to sort of have a joke and a bit of a josh with Al, and actually because of the scene, and the way it was going, and the way we were trying to get into character, we weren’t able to do that. So it did it quite affected the way we worked, didn’t it, on set?
Al Well, usually I can just laugh at you.
Tessa Yeah. And you didn’t laugh at me this time.
Al And I couldn’t laugh at you, although if I tried to, you were just having none of it, you were like, “No, this is a serious scene.”
Tessa So it did. It did affect the way were, didn’t it?
Al We also didn’t have as much stuff together because of all the stuff with Kacey and so you had that storyline, and my storyline took me off somewhere else. So it was weird. And you know I’m quite looking forward to going back and we’ll get some more stuff together, that’ll be nice.
Jace Mrs. C is different after her marriage to Jack. She certainly doesn’t need to keep working. Why does she continue, at least initially, to serve as the housekeeper at the vicarage?
Tessa I know it’s a really weird one this, isn’t it, because you know it’s lovely that she’s got married and got some companionship, the things she presumably wanted in her life. But it’s also quite tricky, because she’s very independent, she likes working for herself, and she doesn’t really want to be told what to do by a man. And of course some, Jack has money, we’re not quite sure why or how, but he seems to have this money, so yeah it does take away that need to work, but I think that’s part of who she is. She likes to be part of the vicarage. You know she likes to be part of the dynamics of who’s coming and going, and especially now the new Vicar’s here, and keeping an eye on Leonard. So there’s all that side, but I think she also, she likes working. She’s a very old-fashioned woman, and she likes to earn her money, do her job, and, you know, that’s the way she’s been brought up. So I think it’s good that she continued, to do that. And I think the marriage won’t affect her her wishes and her want to work.
Jace Likewise, Leonard has discovered love with Daniel. How has his relationship with Daniel changed him, and how does it continue to keep Leonard trapped in old patterns?
Al He’s much more assured, I think, and we sort of see that he’s willing to sort of take on more responsibility, and he is in the midst of being sexually awakened. So I think that’s sort of in everything he does, because it’s such a huge thing, but also because he’s got the fear as well, he’s got the fear of being caught out, and he’s got the fear of, you know the new vicar comes in, and he wants the job, and he could be up to it, but he gets passed over, because of his, you know, his personal life really. I think in the terms of old patterns he’s still trying to balance everything and so he’s still got Mrs. C there. So that’s good, but in a way he doesn’t really stick to old patterns, because once Sidney leaves that has a massive effect on everything and then this new sort of relationship begins with Tom’s character, Will. So he’s got this whole new thing, so in a way it’s kind of not old patterns, in a way he’s stretching himself and really moving on. I think just the sort of the fear of living as a gay man in a society that does not accept that, and it’s the one thing that’s sort of like… he’s always aware of, and that’s always will be until the society changes and he’s allowed to you know be free.
Jace There’s a great moment in episode one, when Leonard offers to stay at Daniel’s house when the Todds are staying the vicarage.
Mrs. C So where are you?
Sidney I’m in Leonard’s room!
Mrs. C Where the Dickens is Leonard?
Geordie At Daniel’s!
Leonard Daniel’s away. Fishing. So I’ll have the house to myself. I’ll be completely, completely alone.
Jace: What does Mrs. Chapman make of Leonard and Daniel’s friendship at this point?
Tessa Well I think at this point, yes, completely innocent. I think she thinks it’s nice that he’s got a friend.
Al She’s got no idea.
Tessa Absolutely no idea. I mean she has, we saw in series one, there was some reference to homosexuality, wasn’t there? And I think she just does as she always does with things, she just sort of carried on and ignored whatever that was and passed on. So I think yeah she just feels Daniel is a very nice chap to have popping around and being a nice friend and that’s nice for Leonard.
Jace I mean even in the episode with the Greeks, she doesn’t quite put two and two together to figure out the true nature of their relationship. Is she simply that naive, or is this just sort of her mentality in the 1950s?
Tessa Yes I think it’s both really. I mean I think she is naive about it, but that’s only because as with lots of people in the fifties, it wasn’t discussed, was it? And so unless you had someone you knew who was a homosexual that you could talk to about it, you know, people didn’t know. Part of the prejudice, like everything in life, is is fear because of the unknown. And I think for her particularly with her religion you know, I think God is a very very very important part of Mrs. C’s character and her motivation in life. So I think you know for her, there is no question it’s wrong because it says it’s immoral in the Bible. So even if she were to think about it, she’d just dismiss it because it’s something she, you know, she wouldn’t contemplate because of her religion.
Jace So many of my favorite scenes on Grantchester are those familial moments in the vicarage, with the two of you and James Norton. Was it difficult to say goodbye to James and to Sidney Chambers?
Al Not really… I mean Tom’s such a nice guy, he was very easily replaced. So you know, we just moved on very quickly.
Tessa You’re hoping James will hear this. Yeah. It was very sad. We did have a few moments of hugging didn’t we?
Al Yeah I mean we knew, at least that.. we all knew it was coming and we’d all met Tom before. So it is a very… it was lovely. I mean it was, you know, everyone wished him well, and he put his heart and soul into the first two episodes, which I thought were brilliant and it’s such a really clever way to send him off as well. But yeah, on a personal level it was lovely, because you’ve seen so much change in people’s lives if you’ve…since he started this five years ago. And you are a little family on set and it’s always sad to see someone go.
Tessa Yeah but the nice thing was, I suppose it wasn’t just that. If there hadn’t been a new vicar coming in it might have felt really weird because there would have been this gap. But because, as in the storyline, and for us too as actors, suddenly you’re waving goodbye to James, in the next second, you know, lovely old Tom’s come in, and suddenly Will the vicar has started the new one, the vicarage continues, life at the church continues. So it’s sort of almost seamlessly happened, didn’t it.
Al We felt like it was a new energy, much needed new energy. Yeah. R.I.P. James. But I’ll tell you what was interesting. What I thought was really nice is that I think you definitely felt on set, because we’ve done it for so long, I mean you know we know the ropes, and but James had such a good energy as a leading man. That’s the biggest thing he brought to the show. He had such a good presence and he was such a good energy, and the set is always happy because he was there, and it was important to find someone with a similar positive outlook. Tom’s got a bit more dry sense of humor, but I think what we all did as well, which he definitely felt, that we all stepped up to the plate to make it comfortable for Tom. And make the atmosphere as easy as possible. ‘Cause it’s quite, it is very daunting. Stepping in James’ shoes is not something to be, you know, shied from, it is a huge deal, you know, we get good figures, it’s a worldwide show, and it’s a really big deal for Tom. He felt the energy in the cast really supporting him. And he was such a lovely addition, and yeah he’s a really nice guy.
Tessa And I think we all know each other so well now, don’t we, so actually just having someone else to welcome in, for all of us, is just like a family welcoming another member. You know it didn’t really… Also it was quite coincidental but very very helpful that this particular season, we had a brand new crew. We’d had the same crew for like three years. And suddenly for this one, we had a brand new crew. So I think Tom looked round and thought, “Oh I’m not alone here. There are other people who actually don’t know the way all this works.”
Jace I mean to that to that note, I mean Leonard says in his sermon…
Leonard: I like to think that every end, no matter how sad, is a new beginning, we should walk into the future with our heads held high and our hearts open to new possibilities, to hope.
Jace: Is this a mission statement for the fourth season of Grantchester as well?
AlYes I think it is. I mean, it’s the… we have a theme, every season we have a theme. The writers sort of go, “What’s the theme?” So I’ve just, you know, so you find out the theme just before you start. And this one was, it was changing times wasn’t it? You know, the times are changing because we’re in that period where like, women are getting jobs, and people are moving on, and so we had that sort of like…
Al Yeah. And Elvis, and music was changing and fashion was changing, and you know we had teddy boys in there for the first time. And I think, you know, I don’t think anyone was too nervous when, you know, once James left. I think we knew were in good hands and the writers did a really amazing job of bringing in a new guy without it seeming like, “Oh, we’re just going to bring in another handsome vicar,” because they got so very really good, and yeah, very good way of doing it.
Tessa But also brilliantly having you sort of as the transition, you know, will you be the one taking over completely? And you know, all the things you do right and wrong in that episode I thought was another brilliant way of just sort of diffusing the situation of one going and the new one coming in.
Al And the public backlash when he didn’t get the job.
Tessa I know people, people were very upset here in Britain and I’m sure the same will be true in America.
Jace I mean as you say Leonard gets the chance to become a crime solving partner to Geordie in that episode essentially. He gets to play-act Sidney’s role in the community. For you, Al, what was it like getting to play these rather unusual beats for Leonard?
Geordie I know your name, I know where you work, it’s not going to be difficult to find your address. That’s right — turn around.
Jean Sorry, it’s been a trying time.
Leonard Stop! Police!
Geordie: Thank you, Leonard.
Al It was fantastic. I absolutely loved it. I mean, it was, I got so much stuff with Robson which was great. So I got to… because I don’t have that much stuff with him, even over five years and you see it to the passing and you know obviously you know we’re good friends and stuff. It’s really nice to have like two solid weeks of just like every day together which I thought was… it was brilliant. And I just thought the way they did it was fantastic. And he still had, you know it’s the high comedy, and the almost Fawlty Towers-esque, you know and then… and then this real sort of like emotional stuff by the end of the episode, so the whole arc of that was… it was so fun. It was brilliant. We had such a good time doing it.
Jace I mean having them staking out the Ganymede Club to me was one of the highlights of the season. What do you make of Leonard’s awkwardness in this space, and his insistence that it was positively Dionysian?
Al Yeah it was yeah. I actually just think he’s just so in a world that he’s never been in you know, he’s in this relationship, this very sort of cozy friendship, which is, you know, moving on to new things… but this is a whole different world. I mean this is like, you know, it’s completely alien to him. So I thought it was lovely to sort of see that, and it was really good, and it was good fun to play as well because everything was just kind of you know a shock if nothing was happening. I think it’s his imagination that got carried away.
Jace Before this next question, a quick word from our sponsors…
Jace So that brings us to the most sort of horrific scene in the season which is when Mrs Chapman rushes into the vicarage and catches Leonard and Daniel kissing. It’s a gut-wrenching moment that’s complicated even further by Leonard chasing after her.
Daniel You’re just kind, that’s all. You always look for the best in people, and I’m very lucky you do – for my sake at least…
Mrs. C The Archdeacon rang to arrange a —
Leonard Mrs. C! Mrs. C, please!
Jace Which is the greater fear for Leonard, that he’s been outed, or that he’s been outed specifically to Mrs. C?
Al It’s hard, that one, because it because it’s his job isn’t it, and his livelihood, and they kind of become entwined and they’re kind of, you know, six of one half dozen the other really isn’t it, but I think, well, saying that actually, I think we know by the end, they make it up and he sacrifices part of his his feelings– not his feelings for Daniel, but his belief that everything he’s doing is right to get Mrs. C back in his life a little bit, and because she is basically like his mother, and you know he lost his mother a long time ago, and so this is it’s a huge thing for him to lose her and I think, yes, I think that would be the most important thing, I think.
Jace And Tessa, what do you feel goes through Mrs. C’s head in that moment where she catches them?
Tessa Well I think it’s just shock really isn’t it? Those moments, you know, when they happen it’s like a car crash I imagine. Well I’ve only been in two and they weren’t major thank God but the actual time, you almost go into slow motion, and you don’t quite compute it all, because you’re in shock. So at the moment, that moment in the kitchen of shock of seeing these two men kissing, which I think for her must have been so huge. You don’t actually emotionally compute it, and I think it’s only afterwards, which is why those scenes afterwards were, in a way, more interesting to play with Mrs. C and Leonard, because by that point emotionally your character has gone on a journey and you thought about it and you thought about what it all means, and you’ve replayed it, and you’ve checked your brain has tried to come to terms with the fact that that’s what you’ve witnessed in the kitchen. So it’s sort of, it’s a slower, a slower burn in a way, I think, than just the actual impact of the very scene.
Jace Mrs. C later tells Will…
Mrs. C I picture him at the gates of heaven, the Angels turn him away, and it breaks my heart.
Will If Leonard gets turned away, then what hope do any of us have of getting in? Heaven must be empty.
Jace: Is she motivated by concern for, as she says, “Leonard’s soul”?
Tessa Yeah, I think I absolutely think she is. I don’t think she’s foolish enough to not think that, actually, to love somebody is important, of course it is, and I think she knows that, but she has such a belief and a faith, and I think she absolutely feels that he will not go to heaven, and that is her driving force. I think throughout the entire rest of the series for all the bad behavior that she shows to Leonard from then on, and the lack of forgiveness, in a way it’s not that she’s not prepared to forgive it, because by the end of the series I think she does. But she is still concerned, the reason she can’t go 100 percent at the end to supporting him, is still this worry I think about about his soul. Yeah.
Jace One of the most upsetting scenes in the show to date is when Mrs. C actually leaves the vicarage and she hangs her apron on her on the hook. Leonard’s reaction to her departure is heartbreaking.
Leonard You’re leaving?
Mrs. C The shelves have been dusted. I’ve bleached the sinks. There’s a mutton pie in the larder for your supper.
Leonard But who will I talk with? Laugh with? Bicker with? And what will I do without my friend?
Jace How tough was this scene to shoot, emotionally?
Al When you’re this far in it’s kind of OK, because you know what to do. You know how to play it, you know because it is, like you say the sad thing is, that I didn’t have any more bloody scenes with her. So you know, every time my corpsing just like halved,
Tessa No one to have a go-out?
Al We got a lot done, actually, after we didn’t act together. Yeah, we were finishing early. I dunno I mean it’s sad because you put yourself in the state of character, but it’s, you know, you sort of do it and then let it go. But it was… I mean I enjoy doing those scenes, I enjoy the emotional stuff as well as the comedy stuff. It’s part of what we do, and you just wanted… you didn’t know over-egg it, and you didn’t want to sort of underplay it, and it’s that fine line of you know, the, sort of, what is it, “let the audience cry, not you.” And I think that’s a lot. I think the lines sort of just helped so much, because it was so beautifully written.
Jace I mean what does Mrs. C want to say in this moment that she can’t, and how can she just walk out the way that she does?
Tessa I think she feels actually the only way forward is for her to let… one of them has to go, is how she I think feels, and she can’t expect Leonard to leave. So she feels the only thing it’s becoming so awkward for her to come to terms with who Leonard truly is, and to be reminded of that every time she sees him in the vicarage, that I think she comes to a decision that the only thing she can do is leave and that that would make it easier for both of them. I don’t think it’s necessarily a particularly selfish decision. I think she also feels that will help him too, because they’re they’re clearly not getting on, they’re irritating each other. They don’t seem to be able to come to any sort of compromise. So I think she has a long think about it, and in her rather practical way thinks, “Well, if I had my notice in and go, and things will be easier. We can just meet in the village, maybe we’ll be able to get along, and it’ll be a slightly different dynamic.”
Jace One of the biggest surprises of the season came when Leonard needles Will, who then savagely punches Leonard. What was it like filming this fight scene with Tom Brittney?
Al Yeah it was… he was intimidated. I’ll be honest. You can’t tell on camera. But I’m actually, like, two foot bigger than him. He’s dwarfish. You know, he’s very small. But no it was it was fine. Because I had a problem with it, I was like, “You can’t have him hit him. You can’t have him hit him.” But then Leonard goes at him at the worst moment, after his father’s died and, yeah, the hard bit was afterwards. It’s getting the reaction. When I watched it back, I’m still not sure it was right. Because, I have been punched, but I’ve got no idea what my reaction was on my own face. Do you know what I mean? It’s very hard to sort of gauge it and go, “Oh, well would I have tears immediately or would I have…” So you just got just the director in that case and them, which I did. So I think it looked okay. And it was a good punch, and it came out the blue, and his reaction after was really good. You know this sort of like, “Oh my God.” And I think there’s that morsel of disappointment. How could he do that? Yeah. Yeah. I was shocked. I think my brother said yesterday was just, “I can’t believe he hit Leonard!”
Al He said, “That was bang out of order!”
Tessa He is your brother.
Al Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But yeah I think a lot of people felt that, but it was, the way they did it again, the way they did it, you’re kind of like. OK. Kind of. I can see why he did it.
Tessa Yeah I thought it’s really good, cause you was so irritating in that moment, I think, weren’t you?
Al Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah.
Jace Tessa, at what point did you find out that Mrs. C was going to pull off a corker of a scheme to get rid of the odious Mr. Hobbs?
Tessa Wasn’t he foul? What a horrible human being! Such a good actor that guy. Christian. McCay, a really good actor. But wasn’t that a good idea, though, to have the two, because Kacey, Mrs. Geordie as it were, you know, we don’t have many… we’ve never really in the four years worth had many scenes together, because she’s always with Geordie and her children, and all those endless babies and little ones. And I’m always at the vicarage, so it was really lovely to, especially as Mrs. C was in mourning for Leonard at that point, and not having many scenes with him, it was really nice to have Kacey to be able to act with it was great.
Jace I mean what is it that compels her to help Cathy, and is it related at all to what’s going on between her and Leonard, as you said that she’s sort of grieving. Does she sort of use this situation as a surrogate to sort of put her her grief and anger into?
Tessa Yeah definitely I think partly it’s, you know, women unite, and she can’t bear the fact that you know Cathy, has been so intimidated by this man and bullied. And I think Mrs. C is many things, but one of them she will not tolerate, I suspect, are bullies and people that abuse power. So I think there is that but I think also there is the thing of, you know, missing Leonard, and the anger that she must have felt during it, about how she was handling it and whether she was doing it, you know, whether she was right to be… the guilt, the things that must have been going on, to be able to channel that into rescuing somebody, and being you know, equally horrible with a nasty bully. Yeah I think was very satisfying for her.
Jace But for a character who is often wearing the same 1940s sort of dated clothes, how fantastic was it to portray her as a posh shopper willing to spend a boatload of money?
Tessa Oh my God it was gorgeous, it was so lovely. Mrs. C so rarely gets to put lipstick on, let alone clothes that are different. She’s normally with that “Pinny!” endlessly. So yeah it was such fun, we’d have jokes myself and the makeup woman, about you know, “Is this a lipstick day?” I’ve never been so excited as an actress, to sit in the seat think, “I can wear lipstick today!” It was very exciting.
Jace The scene in the church between Leonard and Will is beautiful. It’s clear that Will doesn’t care about Leonard’s sexuality. He’s completely open and even direct about it.
Will I know what you are Leonard, and I don’t care. And God doesn’t either.
Leonard Don’t, please.
Will You haven’t been struck down, look! THIS MAN IS A HOMOSEXUAL! See? Nothing. Not a dicky bird.
Leonard I haven’t been struck down? My whole life is punishment, Will.
Will God loves you for who you are.
Leonard Sidney told me that once. I wish it were true.
Jace Does he look upon his sexuality as Will suggests as a quote, “problem” for God to solve? Is he being punished?
Al Yeah. Well I think he is, absolutely. In society. By God, I guess he would think, “If God, if.. God accepts me like, that then surely society would accept me.” But I think he’s also smart enough to be aware that God and society are separate, and actually you can’t control people’s behaviors because of free will, and you know prejudice, and bias, and and all these horrible things that people do as humans. You know, you can’t control that side of it. So he is aware of that, but I think again it’s that unjust, sort of… feeling that he has about his position. I think that. But then losing Sidney, losing the job, losing Mrs Maguire. You know having to deal with his sexuality now in a different way with Mrs C, Mrs. C, Maguire, because now he kind of… where everyone else accepted it, where Sidney was just like, “I know, it’s okay.” This was always going to come and it was always gonna be a problem that we’d have to deal with. I don’t think he’s ready to deal with it yet because he can’t face losing what is essentially his best friend because he’s just lost one of them. But I think when it’s nice that Will shouts it out and he calls him a homosexual in the church, and he’s horrified because…even though he doesn’t feel that God doesn’t love him, to do that in the church is such a huge thing that even he can’t get his head round it, really, and I think that that’s too much that even he started to doubt. So in my long roundabout way… yeah.
Jace The bus stop scene between Will and Leonard is one of my favorites this season as Will comes by on his boat motorbike to bring Leonard back to the vicarage.
Will Of all the bus stops in all the world.
Leonard It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Will Where are you going?
Leonard I don’t know. It’s only just struck me I don’t really have anywhere else to go.
Will Daniel thinks this is about God.
Leonard Is he angry?
Will He’s worried.
Leonard I’ve said some awful things
Will Well at least you didn’t punch him.
Jace Do we finally see how similar these two men are in this scene?
Al Yeah absolutely. I think we absolutely see that, and it’s beautiful, and shot so nice, it is such a nice sort of image of him pulling up in this… and sort of he’s said it before, he said it to Morven’s character in the Christmas special. And you know, “Of all the benches in all the world…” And so it is, it’s a throwback to that. And it was, “Oh you can’t say… surely he can’t say that…” but he does, and I think, yeah, that they finally make peace with each other. And when he talks about his father, that’s obviously the one that they they connect on, and actually they have more in common than they, you know, they thought at the start.
Jace The reconciliation scene between Leonard and Mrs. C is really tense. It’s not hugs and kisses and tearful apologies.
Will Perhaps I should leave you two alone.
Leonard No, you live here too, Will.
Mrs. C I’m not ready to forgive. I’m sorry but that’s the truth. And that man is never to come here again.
Leonard His name is Daniel.
Mrs C If that’s a compromise Leonard is prepared to make, then I’ll consider coming back.
Leonard I see. We don’t work without you Mrs. C.
Jace Tessa, do you think she’s asking a lot actually asking Leonard to choose between the two people he loves most?
Tessa I don’t think Mrs. C sees it that way. Me, as Tessa, thinks that’s what’s happening. But I think Mrs. C is stating, and she is honest and very open normally with these things, she’s stating that, you know, to her, to come back to the vicarage and have a working relationship and possibly re-engage with the friendship again with Leonard comes at a cost, and the cost is that she does not want to be reminded daily that he is a homosexual, and that there’s a male lover, i.e. Daniel. And that’s the term she states, and it’s up to Leonard to either accept those terms or not. And I think for a middle-aged religious woman, that’s quite a step for her to have taken actually, I know it seems perhaps we would go, “Well don’t be ridiculous, she should have accepted Daniel,” you know. But we were in the fifties and she was brought up in the forties, and you know life was very different. And attitudes very different. And what other people think in the village is very important to her. So I think there’s a lot more at stake and I think in her terms she feels she’s gone as close as she can to a compromise. I love the fact that it’s open-ended, I thought what was so interesting to leave it hanging so that you know, yes as you say, that was awkward. It wasn’t, “Oh let’s hug and let’s make a..!” You know, it didn’t have a “happy ending,” and I think that’s great, because I think in both these characters, Leonard and Mrs. C, there’s a hell of a lot more to explore than just tying it all up with a nice little ribbon at the end. What do you feel, Al?
Al Yeah, and he understands that she is the way she is, and that actually hopefully in time it will be better, but right now he’d be willing to do that to have her back in his life, and step by step, you know, he listens and he helps people, and I think in a way in a weird way he’s kind of going, “OK, well, I’ll help you along this journey as well.” You know to be more progressive.
Jace Yeah I mean Leonard does relent. Does Leonard know what he’s giving up in this moment?
Al Yeah he does, he knows what he’s giving up. I think it’s a small sacrifice to not have it thrust in her face. I think he can deal with it.
Tessa She’s not saying you’ve got to give up Daniel, she’s saying she doesn’t want to see it in the vicarage.
Al No she’s not saying you can’t round his house, and play some Scrabble. Yeah I think I think that’s a fair compromise. I mean I think people do that nowadays, you know what I mean, you just go… if you if you don’t agree with the relationship, you go, “It’s cool you go out with them. But I don’t want them in my house.” And you go, “OK, I respect that because this is your house as much as mine.” And he can’t clean and he needs a cleaner really bad. But yeah.
Jace At least until this rift Leonard and Mrs. C were quite well together. And from what I gather, Al Weaver and Tessa Peake-Jones do as well. How would you describe the other, both as a person and a scene partner?
Al Loud. Loud. Loud walker, she can’t act with props. And, as I’m sure she told you, she was my mentor when I was at drama school.
Tessa Yes I taught him everything he knows.
Al Except I can more quietly, and move things. She’s a joy. It’s always a joy. And now that we’ve decided to share a car together, because my house is on the way to her house, which is on the way to set, so I think they’re trying to save money, but…
Tessa I do buy you a custard every morning.
Al She buys me a custard every morning, and then we get our things, you know it’s nice. You know we’re good friends, so it’s a joy to work with, and she’s so good and she’s her favorite thing is, you know, she she prefers acting without lines than with lines. Which I was like, “What you mean acting without lines, so you don’t say anything?” It’s like, she’s like, “Yeah, because you can just feel it.” And I was like, “Oh my God, you’re so right. That’s brilliant.” So she’s a very kind, giving, sharing, loving, wonderful actress.
Tessa Thank you, that’s enough, that’s enough it’ll sound like you’re lying. Yeah he’s great he’s a joy to work with.
Tessa Always funny, always committed, a brilliant actor, so when you’re working with people like that, you know, it’s a joy. And we happen to get on very, very well as well in real life, don’t we, so it makes it even more perfect. Everytime, you know, they say, “Oh, there’ll be another series,” my little heart goes “Yippee!” because most of my stuff will be with Al.
Jace Tessa Peake-Jones and Al Weaver, thank you very much.
Tessa Thank you. You’ve been lovely to talk to.
Al Yeah, lovely. Thank you.
Jace And now, we’re joined again by Grantchester creator, executive producer and head writer, Daisy Coulam. Welcome.
Daisy Coulam Thank you.
Jace Grantchester has been recommissioned for a fifth season which is fantastic.
Daisy Hurrah, yes Hurrah!
Jace Hurrah, yes! What sort of themes or stories are you looking to explore next season?
Daisy Well it’s funny because we’re just we’re sort of just in that process now of of thinking about stories. But what is brilliant is it gives us more opportunity to explore Will’s character and to really sort of get beneath his skin. We’re doing another big Leonard story and Mrs. C story. Kathy just wanting to explore 1957 which is the year that the prime minister at the time MacMillan said Britons have never had it so good. So it’s this country they are living in. You know post war war is kind of receded into the distance every you know everyone’s affluent everyone’s got jobs. You know people are wearing nice clothes again money and yet and yet and yet you know despite all that. So it’s kind of Eden but what’s lying beneath it. What’s the secret in the darkness beneath that? So that’s what we’re going next series.
Jace You’ve now had a full season to write for Tom Britney as Will Davenport. How has Tom’s performance influenced your approach for the character and how you’ll write him moving forward?
Daisy He he’s a joy to write for actually. He also he has loads of ideas about his character. He’s very. I suppose he just puts his all into it so he will he will have lots of ideas and loads of them are brilliant. They kind of like okay, just keep talking. So what else what else do you want to do. So yeah he really influences him. Him and Robson you know we kind of I wouldn’t say we meet up regularly but when we do we we chat a lot about the characters and last time I saw them they were they were just they just enthused about it really so yeah. Tom Tom really influenced the character now. It’s it’s it kind of it did change. It definitely changed across the first series you might his first series rather you might kind of notice that he gets a bit more nuanced nuanced as he goes along I think because you get to know Tom you get to know Will I suppose.
Jace Mrs. C. and Leonard’s argument became one of the central storylines this season and they entered into a rather tentative detente by the end. How will their dynamic be further challenged next season?
Daisy Well Mrs C is going to have troubles of her own with Jack not that she is the kind of woman who would ever step away from that marriage but her problems are going to be from that. So it’s in a way it’s about Will giving pastoral care to Mrs. C in the future which I think is quite interesting because Mrs. C plays this quite motherly role and I think the boys need to take care of her every bit. This series. So that’s what’s going to be happening.
Jace The dance ends with Will making a connection with school teacher Jennifer Reynolds. Is there a chance that Miss Reynolds might return to become a love interest for the vicar?
Daisy Who knows? Well I do know that love is going to play a part in Will’s story in the next series. Because he’s a man who has chosen not to have sex. You gotta you gotta make that difficult for him so there will be some love interests thrown his way.
Jace How much do you respond to audience or critical reaction to the series and is there a difference to the way that UK and American audiences respond to Grantchester?
Daisy We try not to look because if you look at the nice things you have to look at the bad things and I’ve done about things are a bit heartbreaking sometimes. I thought I find American audiences can be a little kinder if that’s I think British audiences know that we have a really lovely following and they can be very nice but sometimes they they don’t they don’t pull their punches put it that way. But I suppose they do. You know I don’t know do I find looking at Twitter and things like that it just makes me want to cry. So it’s just to avoid it avoid that avoid them because you can’t please everyone that’s the thing you can’t please everyone. Otherwise you know you can’t. I still get complaints about Sidney not being with Hildegard in series one. So it’s like oh sorry.
Jace Well are you trying to please everyone you end up pleasing no one, I think.
Daisy Exactly. Least of all yourself I’d say.
Jace I mean many of those who work on Granchester call it their happy place a phrase coined by executor producer Dietrich Santer. What does that mean to you as the show’s head writer and does this show somehow embody some ineffable sense of happiness?
Daisy It’s a funny thing I’ve always tried to put my finger on what it is that makes it a happy place. Even you know you kind of get guest cast that come and go. You get crew that come and go. I mean some of the some of the crew have been there since the beginning. You know. Craig one of the chickpeas has been there since the beginning. And so it is a kind of movement of people through but we always seem to attract nice people and I think my theory is it comes from Robson and it came from James and now it comes from Tom that they they make everyone feel welcome. You know you could be have three lines and they would still stop in chat to you and you know be interested in what you’re up to. I think I dunno it just. Or maybe you’ve got some religion on our side or something I dunno what it is because it was like the sun always seems to shine too, and we got a dog Dickens is just for some reason it’s just a happy place and Grantchester itself. The people are really generous to us and really welcome us there. So just it’s just as I don’t know. Just lucky I think.
Jace Well here’s to another season of luck and happiness.
Daisy Yay. Thank you very much.
Jace Daisy Coulam thank you so very much.
Daisy No thank you. It’s been lovely.
Jace Coming up next on MASTERPIECE: it’s the fifth and final season of the beloved Cornish drama Poldark. Starting with the season premiere on September 29th, we’ll have new interviews with key cast members. Also look out for our companion podcast, Mining Poldark, with co-hosts Barrett Brountas and Robin Ellis, the original Ross Poldark from the 1970s adaptation of the series.
You can find Mining Poldark wherever you listen to podcasts.
MASTERPIECE Studio is hosted by me, Jace Lacob and produced by Nick Andersen. Elisheba Ittoop is our editor. Susanne Simpson is our executive producer. The executive producer of MASTERPIECE is Rebecca Eaton.
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