As Grantchester wraps its serialized sixth season, series creator Daisy Coulam is already hard at work on the seventh season. Among other new elements, the upcoming season features a new director at the helm — series star Tom Brittney. Coulam and Brittney preview the new season, and unpack the season that just closed, in a new podcast.
Jace Lacob: I’m Jace Lacob, and you’re listening to MASTERPIECE Studio.
Just when it seemed like Grantchester had thrown everything it could at you this season — Leonard in prison, Will tumbling into bed with his stepsister, Geordie threatening to strike Cathy — the series’ writers tossed one more surprise in the mix.
Geordie No, Cathy. Listen. I know things haven’t been right recently.
Cathy I want some time apart.
Geordie How long?
Cathy We’ll see.
Jace After a season of drunken anguish, Geordie turns to God — and his best friend Will — for solace.
Will Mind if I join you?
Geordie He’s your boss. I’ve got Will Davenport on line two sir. He says he’ll meet us at the pub.
Jace But Grantchester is, after all, ultimately a show about family — and despite this serialized season’s dramatic twists and turns, it’s reassuring to see at least one member of our favorite family reunited after a stint in the clink.
Leonard Sidney was a drunk. Will rides a motorbike. I’ve been to prison. You were very hard on us all and rightly so. But you were always fair, well mostly. We both need to accept this isn’t my room anymore. But that doesn’t mean I won’t always love you.
Mrs C I love you too. I’ve missed you so much.
Jace Series head writer Daisy Coulam knew this season would be challenging. But she’s excited to pick up some of the pieces in Grantchester’s upcoming seventh season, which will air on MASTERPIECE in 2022. Coulam joins us to offer some hints of what’s to come — and later, series lead Tom Brittney pops in for a debrief of Will Davenport’s busy eight episodes.
Jace And we are joined this week by Grantchester head writer Daisy Coulam. Welcome.
Daisy Coulam Hello! Gosh.
Jace Last time we spoke to you, the writers were breaking the story for series six of Grantchester. What were the initial ideas that cropped up in the writers room for this series? What were the things you were discussing?
Daisy We sat down, because we started with its 1958. What were the big things? Our lovely script editor, Heathe, she brings together a document which puts together everything that’s happened in 1958, all the kind of main events and, you know, sort of zeitgeisty things like for example, the CND movement or you know, that kind of that just gives us a little bit of inspiration about where our characters are going. And literally we sit in a room with big pieces of paper on the wall and and work on our journeys. And that was yet weirdly, this series really flows, which I think we did in a day, with a glass of wine at lunch.
Jace The theme for series five was Eden and the idea of happiness. Series six to me sort of explores the role of sin and forgiveness, or even or especially sort of self-forgiveness. What were you and the writing team looking to delve into in terms of the thematic narrative this year on Grantchester?
Daisy We we always knew that the Leonard story was going to be central to it, and we wanted to explore the theme of justice and injustice. And when Geordie works in a world where where justice is the end product and for him justice is all important. But what happens one day if he has to arrest someone he doesn’t believe he’s guilty and whether it’s moral, moral rights versus legal rights aren’t always the same thing. So that was our starting point. And we kind of went from there and we wanted a series where everyone fit into it, where the main story affected every single character from Jack to Ms. C to, Will, to you know, it just rippled through all of their stories. And I think because we had eight episodes for the first time, we really felt that we had a chance to do that story justice.
Jace Let’s go to that first episode, I love the opening episode, which is set at Merries’, which harkens back to the sort of ideal British holiday camp of the 1950s, albeit here, of course, because it’s Grantchester, rife with murder and blackmail and prostitution lurking beneath the surface. Why did you want to kick off this pandemic series with an excursion for the characters? Was there an element of escapism to it?
Daisy Oh, so much. It was so weird because we started filming. We started prepping this show as the pandemic hit. And so, you know, everything was shut. No holidays are happening for anyone. And we were at one point we were thinking, ‘Can we even film this? I mean, is there a way to get actors in a room?’ And we just wanted something bright and breezy and something that showed that how close these people have got. You know, that even though, you know, Leonard and Daniel are essentially not allowed to be a couple in public, they’ve been accepted by this family. And we wanted something that was joyous, really, before we go to some quite dark places.
Jace You mentioned the overarching narrative for series six and and I never considered it would be a series long plot about Leonard being accused and convicted of gross indecency. And you said going in, you knew that that would be sort of the link between these episodes. But where did the idea come from to not do, say, a multi-episode murder investigation, but to have that Leonard story be the through line for the series?
Daisy I think with eight episodes, which we just wanted to go deep with our characters, and we knew that if it was a murder story, not to say that in series seven, we won’t see something like that because you will — there’s a teaser for you. In season six we just thought this gives us a chance to look a gang in more detail and to sort of. To peel some layers of because, you know, we’ve got a gay character in the in the 1950s and it just felt it was still illegal in Britain and I don’t think a lot of people were younger. People maybe didn’t realize that that so recently in a way that that was that was the case. And I just thought, let’s you know, it’s funny because I think some people are like there’s a sense sometimes that we’ve seen homosexuals be punished in a way in stories. And I sort of feel like, yes, but and I I want to we really wanted to do this story because it’s Leonard. It’s somebody we love. And if we can convince one person that this is wrong to punish him, then that’s a good thing. I think this is about yeah. It’s about seeing the way the prejudices of the world then.
Jace No, no, I mean, it’s set in 1958. This is a sort of a few years after the infamous Alan Turing case and his 1954 suicide. It’s also the same year that the Homosexual Law Reform Society and Albany Trust were established in Britain. I mean, was it intentional then that this would be the series to explore what might have happened to someone in Leonard’s position specifically in 1958 before things started to change?
Daisy Yes. And also what we found in our research was what was quite interesting was a lot of working class people were very fine with homosexuality. They didn’t. And which is why we we chose Cathy as a sort of figure of somebody who’s like, this is somebody’s personal life. Why are we still going after people? Because even even in the 50s, people were liberal sometimes they they thought outside of the box. And in a way, the law was behind the times. And that’s sort of what we try to explore, that the church is behind the times with the. Yeah, it’s so we wanted to do that kind of divide between a lot of our characters clearly love Léonard and back him and others struggle with, you know, homosexuality is something that’s against the church. So it’s it it felt really rich for us, for really, really rich and really characterful. And we just felt like so lucky because so much space to explore it.
Jace Series four was a hand over year with Tom Brittney’s Wil Davenport taking the baton from James Norton’s Sidney. Series five was Tom’s first full series. But with this series, Will and Tom really feel in control. Did it feel that way in the writers room as well? That Will had come into his own? In a way.
Daisy definitely. And I think his and Geordie’s relationship has come into its own also. I think it’s a strange thing as a writer, if you get to know the actor more, um, it you it’s easy to write for them. And I think. He is a delight. And he’s really funny and he’s really passionate about things. And so I’ve sort of spent more time with Tom on set and probably had a few too many drinks with him at times. And he just I think that just oozes onto this page and I think it really helps. But I think he’s great in this series because it’s a it’s about him navigating his his religion in a way in it and trying to boat rock, but how can you boat rock if you don’t have a boat to rock, essentially it, how can it how can he change the system? How how can he help Leonard if he’s not inside the church? So it’s yeah, it’s fun. It’s good for him. Some meaty stuff.
Jace I mean, on the religion note, the final episode really sort of examines that it begins with Will talking about the compassion of Christ and it ends with Geordie praying to God and saying, ‘Hopefully you still forgive.’
Geordie Dear God, it’s been a while. I don’t really remember how this works, but hopefully you still forgive. I’m hoping you can make me be a better man to my family, to my friends, and to you. Amen.
Jace Do these notions of compassion and forgiveness feel especially relevant in 2021?
Daisy I think they do. I think the shape of the series for me was sort of almost the shape of the year is like the start off jolly and you think, ‘Oh, this is a new year, exciting things.’ And it descends into something you never thought possible. But there’s always hope. I think that’s the thing with Grantchester and with the world when even when things are dark, there is always. You know, I’m not a religious person, but I appreciate anyone who has that sort of faith because you have to look for the light, I think. And and I suppose that’s at the end of the series. That’s what it comes down to. You have your even in the midst of horror, you have your family, you have your friends, even if you can only see them on Zoom. And so, yeah, it’s sort of I think, weirdly, the series mirrored our emotional state.
Jace There is an interesting subversion of expectation. The series regarding Will’s romantic life. The series starts with some local women sort of ogling him. He falls for Sunny at Merries’. He ends up in a punt and later a bed with his half sister, Tamara. Was there a conversation about whether to focus or not focus on Will’s love life this year? Was that a deliberate decision?
Daisy So what was interesting is we had series six and series seven commissioned at the same time. So we had the luxury of knowing we’d have more episodes to explore Will’s love life. So we knew that the series Will is essentially still a child in our eyes. He’s a he he sort of can’t do grown up relationships. And that’s we wanted to kind of show that I think he’s a bit of a mess, really, is Will. He kind of tries really hard, but he he’s searching for love and love in all the wrong places. And so so and just to tease season seven, we might go a bit kind of more into his relationship, his love life. I don’t know. It’s it’s really interesting, actually, because think of season six in the terms of 2020 in the whole horror. And then season seven is like this bright, shiny, lovely thing. It’s really bizarre. I think it just has a lightness about it. So yes, we we explore more his relationship and that’s it. Relationships in that series.
Jace It’s rare to me for a drama in its sixth series to shake things up as much as Grantchester does this year. Was there any trepidation or fear about sort of shaking the foundations?
Daisy I think because our foundations are quite solid, I think it was good to wait until Will have sort of established himself, because then you feel like the cast are all exactly where you want them to be. They’re exactly who you want them to be. And I think that way you kind of reveal new sides to people that you didn’t know were there. And sometimes the characters even surprise me when you’re when you’re writing them, you’re like, oh, I didn’t think you’d think that. So, yeah, it’s great. And it just gives a freshness, I think. And going into from six to seven that freshness, it helps season seven, I think, because he’s sort of like, oh, this is reinvigorated. There’s a new there’s a difference. You know, Leonard’s not in his job. What does that mean? You know, it’s all that kind of thing.
Jace I mean, you mentioned that that in writing some of the characters sort of surprise you. Who which character surprised you the most in writing this series?
Daisy Oh, that’s a very good question. Uh, no, for example, Cathy, really I loved how sort of forthright and how feminist she’s getting on about her. I didn’t see that. I didn’t see she’d be reading Simone de Beauvoir
Cathy Read this. It’ll change your life.
Mrs C The Second Sex.
Will You can say it out loud.
Mrs C Simon De Beaver. Is it a sequel? I haven’t read the first one.
Daisy And I just I also, Jack, for example, you know, really standing by Leonard as a sort of, you know, a middle aged white man. You people surprise you with those kind of attitudes. And I think it’s you could have done a very sort of 1950s. Everyone shuns Leonard, but that’s not that’s not real. And that’s not all characters. Yeah, all of them. Surprise me, Geordie and his feelings about, Will, not being having done his national service or not, and for Geordie, that’s a huge sort of betrayal on the part of Will. There were these kind of issues that come up like generational and moral. And yes, it was it was good to explore those.
Jace The struggle between them is woven so beautifully through these eight episodes, culminating in what might be one of my favorite scenes between them, that the scene in the church where Will takes Geordie’s hand. Did you know going into scripting the series that that would be the final scene?
Daisy Yeah, we always funny enough, when we see John Jackson, who wrote that episode who has been on the show for years and years now. And he he initially put that scene right, right at the very end of this episode. But we felt like. In a way, Geordie’s confession needed to come slightly higher up in the episode because it’s in a way is about what you say, it’s about redemption and hope. And so Geordie unburdening this and will like it if we wanted a confession scene, essentially. And it’s so beautiful, isn’t it? It’s just also it’s quite a long scene, which is, as we said to John, just keep writing. Write what you like. And I just think Robson is fantastic in that scene. We were in the church, Emma and I and John, all with a little tear in our eye watching that, when they filmed it.
Jace I love the reveal that Geordie carries around the names of the men at the Burmese prison camp in the brim of his hat right next to his temple. A symbolist might interpret that as the ideal place for from memory. Where did this detail emerge from and does it explain the weight that Jordy has been carrying all of these years?
Daisy Do you know did you know that it was came from Robson Green?
Jace No, I didn’t!
Daisy So, because he always carries his hat in. He generally doesn’t wear the hat, He always carries it. He’s always got it in his head. And he was like, ‘I think he’s got a secret in that hat.’ And we were like, ‘Oh, my God’! and so we put two and two together and said that he had that list in his hat because we read some research and one guy did come home with with a list of all the men that he served with sort of become the official sort of record keeper so he could tell people when he got home. And we thought that was such a beautiful, well, sad image, the list of names and how they died. It sort of makes sense. And also because he just has never talked about it. But, you know, it’s sort of there, right in his voice, you kind of carries it around with him literally now. So, yeah, that was the origin of that.
Jace Over the last few years, Grantchester has embraced diversity in front of and behind the camera. This season features several people of color in roles that in many other period dramas might traditionally have been played by white actors like Henry or Rita. How important are diversity initiatives on Grantchester?
Daisy Very. I think it’s it’s been important since season one. We’ve always tried to bring in actors of black Indian, whoever actually whoever’s best for the role is a really tricky. But I think it’s more important than ever. And it’s a very. It’s a very tricky subject to navigate sometimes because people get cross go, oh, there weren’t that many black people in Britain in it in the 1950s. And you have to go. Well, actually, there were and in a in a university town there were and also. It’s about Britain now as well. I think I said this to you before, and I am now going to paraphrase Lin Manuel Miranda about. Hamilton being America, then represented by America now, and I think I think that I think that’s how it should be, really, don’t you think? I think if you did America then it would just be white men every did every did Britain. Then it would just be white people. You couldn’t do representation, and so therefore it’s wrong, I think.
Jace No, I mean, period, dramas tend to hold up a mirror to our own present day society or good period dramas should and is sort of whitewashing the past and sort of erasing the Windrush generation or many other immigrants to Britain. I mean, it does create or if not created upholds a status quo in terms of representation, that this is sort of this view of Britain as being sort of lily white that is incredibly damaging. And so to do away with that, it does feel remarkable in the context of a period drama to have it sort of be diverse and to reflect the reality of 1958 and to reflect the reality of twenty, twenty one. We live in a multicultural society and that’s what we should see on our television screens and behind.
Daisy I think this is one of the things everyone needs to work really hard is behind the scenes, the writers, directors. I don’t know, I, I don’t think writers of color get as much of a chance. I just don’t think they do. I think they do now, maybe, but I don’t think they have in the past. It’s just there is a sort of certain privilege about creatives. It’s a very sort of well, it was very white male, but I think now it’s possibly edged a bit towards women. But then. So any door that can open is good, and I think people just need to get on board with that otherwise. Although I don’t know, I just think otherwise stories become very narrow and I think I think we’re all we’re not perfect yet by any means. And I don’t think we just need to keep going. We just keep pushing these things otherwise. I don’t know, I just think it’s it’s blooming 2021 what are we doing? Come on. I don’t know if I feel like we’ve got lots of white people have a lot to learn about it, really, and they should just keep trying.
Jace Series seven is set in the the long, hot summer of 1959, we don’t want spoilers, but what can you say about what lies ahead for Grantchester when it returns?
Daisy Season seven is it’s all about change and all about how we grow up, really, I think it’s Will’s growing up series, it’s Will becoming a man, but not navigating that world of, as we were saying earlier, about not becoming his father and becoming his own man and. It’s kind of everyone changes, everyone has to change to become better, and all of our characters are doing that. All of our characters are. You have to embrace change to move on, and I think that’s what the next series is about, that’s OK.
Jace Tom Brittney steps behind the camera for the first time to direct episode three of Series seven. How would you describe Tom as a director?
Daisy It’s quite funny, actually, because often he’s directing himself. So he’ll be behind the camera in his dog collar, and then he’ll step in front. But he’s really good. He’s really like a brilliant we have I wrote the episode that he directs. So we had quite a few chats about it. And he really he brings in it kind of actorly knowledge to it. He knows how to speak to actors, which is, you know, one of the main things that he’s brilliant. He’s got a real vision for it. He really, really thought it through. Yeah. I you know, I handed a script and then the next day he’d go, right, ‘I’ve written ten pages of thoughts, like, ‘OK, great!’ He really, really cares. And I think it’s going to be a great episode actually. Um, I think I would be surprised if he ends up being actor slash director from now on. I think know I think even I can see him doing it much like Shaun from Endeavour.
Jace Shuan Evans. Yeah..
Daisy I think he was slightly inspired by Shuan actually. So I think it’s a great thing. And the actors really respond well to him. And they had a great time.
Jace Daisy Coulam, thank you so very much as always.
Daisy Thank you! Lovely to speak to you.
Jace Let’s take a quick break to hear a word from our sponsors… and when we return, series lead Tom Brittney joins us to preview Grantchester’s seventh season…
Jace And this week we are joined once again by Grantchester star Tom Britney. Welcome.
Tom Brittney Hello. Nice to chat to you again.
Jace You joined the cast of Grantchester in series four, which was a hand over year, as Will Davenport took over for Sidney Chambers. Series five was therefore your first full series as the lead in Series six finds you to me very much in your element. Did it feel like Wil had come into his own in series six?
Tom Yes, I think it did. I mean, I think six six definitely felt like, you know, the written my characters, although it is maybe a little restless and stuff like that is very firmly vicar in the parish. And it’s his home and it’s his family. And I think that’s fun for the writers to be able to to deal with. And Will’s problems and four five sort of subsided slightly, and he’s got new problems to worry about, but they’re very firmly rooted in the in the world of Grantchester.
Jace I mean, this is Grantchester, it’s never a smooth sailing.
Tom Yeah. Never. It would never be that. You can’t keep characters happy for too long.
Jace Series six, as you say, begins with a happy holiday at Merries’. The series ends with many of the relationships at the core of the series shaken up somewhat or entirely. What did you make of the emotional wringer that was the sixth series of Grantchester?
Tom I thought it was brilliant. I mean, it was. It was the first series we did. That was eight episodes instead of six. And it may only seem two episodes doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it’s a massive shooting schedule. And it’s the worry. You know, if you’re if you’re doing six and actually going back to six and series seven, you really feel the difference in a more intense and shorter storyline, whereas you’re trying to make one not last that long. So we’re different. But the writers did brilliantly and they really did. But every character through the wringer with minor injuries relationship, you know, having having its hurdles. But you know, the star of this series is Leonard and his storyline, and I thought that was so, so wonderfully written and so beautifully acted by now that it was just a pleasure to come in and, you know, whenever they put will through just to be able to watch him do his thing and see his character arc and what he goes through. I think it’s an absolutely incredible series. Just for that storyline.
Jace I mean, Will’s support of Leonard. The series was if, if not surprising, given Will’s propensity for compassion. It was really touching, given how far Will is willing, no pun intended there, to go to support Leonard. I mean, does Will at this point see Leonard as a sort of surrogate brother?
Tom 100 percent, 100 percent, he says it and I think he absolutely means it. And Will has has a struggle with how to approach you know the court case with with the gross indecency trial because it does mean putting his job on the line. But Will is a boat knocker. It doesn’t mean it’s easy for him. He has a lot of pressure from every side, putting him each way. But ultimately, despite all of that, he does try and come to the aid of Leonard. If, I guess in the end unsuccessfully because he is sent to prison, but I think it bothers him that he got to stand up and prove to everyone who told him not to do that to the establishment holds true to his friends, his family and to Leonard that he had. He has true convictions and is willing to put his job on the line for that.
Jace I mean, in the 1950s particularly, that feels almost transgressive. It’s somewhat astonishing to see it within the context of a period piece.
Tom Yeah, look Will as a very liberal character, witnesses, I don’t think people could probably argue. I don’t think it’s a 21st century lens on the 1950s. There weren’t many people like him. They weren’t. They didn’t not exist. People who had liberal views and progressive views. Hence why the civil rights movement or gay rights movements didn’t progress is because of people not just like well, but people that literate people who were proud of who they are and willing to show people that. But obviously were Grantchester shows, is that society as a whole was not accepting of those people. But I think obviously because of Will’s background and how much he’s fighting against the privilege and the conservative background where he’s from, he’s definitely always trying to overcompensate. Not in a false way to be the best person he can. And I think he’s very good at being able to see where hatred and. You know, opposition to progressive values comes from including in his own establishment he’s trying to uphold in the church.
Jace I mean, he does sort of embody that in that notion of compassion. And we sort of come back to that throughout the series that this is someone who believes in compassion for his fellow man and in living sort of the the values of the vocation that he has been called to. I do want to touch on on Will and Jordy, who are in particular tested by the events this series, as you touched on before Jordy very proudly fought in the war. Will we learn here got out of his national service duties? He’s not particularly proud of that now, but it becomes a major point of tension between these two men. What did you make of the conflict between the two of them, the series touching on that, that notion of service?
Tom It’s a tough one, because I do empathize with both sides as as me, the actor, because, you know, I’m not I’m not a pacifist as such, but I haven’t served, you know, I I understand what war means in a modern day sense. And so I myself have a distance from that. And will, you know, is where he’s over 10 years away from the end of the Second World War. So he was he has no he has a connection to it in terms of the people around him and the society you never served. And then what we find out is he didn’t even do National Service, which most of the young men of the country would have done so. Even if they hadn’t have gone to war, they would have had an understanding of military discipline. And so, you know, that’s where I kind of understand, well, not I’m not seeing how much it means to someone, but it’s only when he finds out when Geordie talks about his prisoner of war experience. And that is that he’ll never understand what it’s like to go through that. But he can he. He misunderstood the respect that’s due to people who have gone through that, even if he doesn’t agree with it, even if he thinks it’s silly, is that people lost their lives to put their lives on the line for a war, and they have to live with that now. And, you know, I understand why it’s tough for that. His best friend has no comprehension of any of what he went through.
Jace And their struggle leads to what might be my favorite scenes to date between them. The scene in the church where Will takes Geordie’s hand at the very end of the final episode. What did you make of the scene when you first read it in the script?
Tom I thought it was incredible. I thought it was such a well-written, beautiful scene, and I was just so excited to see Robson you know, being being let loose. You see, Geordie is not a particularly overly emotional character. That’s sort of my thing. And Geordie a little bit more controlled, I guess in some ways, you know, he has his odd outburst, but this is the first time you really see him… or at least I’ve seen him have that emotional break. You know, in his character. And it was just it was so great to film. And me and Robson rehearsed it a lot. It’s a big scene, and it was a lot for Robson to remember, you know, dialogue wise, but not just as the shape of the scenes, too. You know, he was really nervous about trying to hit it. And so it was really good for us to be together. And just for him to play the truth. And he nailed it. He absolutely nailed it. It was so…it made me well up, both as a writer and as an actor watching him go through this because it was just done so beautifully.
Will You alright?
Geordie No. But at least I know it now. Will. I do not think any less of you for not serving. In fact, I’m glad you didn’t. Because you can see the world as it ought to be.
Will The only reason I didn’t have to is because of men like you and Johnny.
Geordie I’m gonna get her back you know, Cathy.
Will I know, I’ll help.
Geordie What with your track record, I’ll take my own chances.
Jace I mean, it is this really beautifully emotional scene that captures the depths of their friendship, and male emotional intimacy isn’t something we ordinarily see on television, much less than in a period drama again set in the 1950s. Did it feel groundbreaking in a sense, to show this moment of genuine emotional intimacy between these two friends?
Tom I mean, it’s still still to this day. It’s ‘boys don’t cry,’ is still chucked around as if as if there’s any truth to it, and especially the ‘50s and especially in Britain, you don’t show emotion. And so that’s what it is. I mean, again, my character and in Will, is is very in touch with his emotions, even if he doesn’t have complete control over his anger or his fury or his, you know, his empathy, which can turn into being upset that. To see to see Geordie break down what that is not just unusual. You know, it’s unusual in this character for the time, and I think it’s handled so well because it doesn’t feel like it’s it feels like it’s really hard for him to get there. And for him to read the list of these or for me to see the list that he’s been reading over and over again with these people that he was in prison or prisoner of war camp with all died, you totally understand why that would have that effect on him.
Jace When you said you couldn’t help you, Tom Brittney, sort of welling up to see Robson do this scene. I mean, it’s no secret that you and Robson Green are extremely close. What did it mean to you to get to shoot this scene with Robson? And how much does Will’s onscreen friendship with Geordie sort of echo your own with Robson?
Tom It’s very funny how similar we are to our characters, and there was a scene where we’ve made up, and I briefly, I think in maybe episode five or six, maybe I think six where we we say we disagree, we’re talking about disagreeing and and Geordie kind of contradicts me and I go, ‘Look, we’re disagreeing about disagreeing.’ And I remember how funny we found that because we do, we love each other. But we bicker and we we, you know, we argue about things for the sake of arguing, not proper arguments, just sort of, you know, contrary, we spend every single waking moment with each other. So it’s like it’s this weird Father-Son / sibling / best friend relationship that we have both in the show and in real life. So it’s eerie how close they are. I remember one scene that we actually welled up more than the one where Geordie explains the POW Camp, it’s actually it was just a simple scene where I think it’s after our first argument in the show about the National Service thing, in the end, when I’m walking out of the police station and Geordie is going to his car and we just sort of just say, ‘Night.’ I swear, I feel like I’m getting emotional. Just think about it now, and I don’t understand why, all we say to each other is ‘Night,’ and walk off. And I remember me and Robson just crying at the fact that our characters weren’t speaking to each other. And then Rob Evans, the director, was like, ‘Oh, come on, stop being idiots. It’s not real.’ For some reason, that really, that distance that that chasm between us in the show, the unspoken kind of thing really affected us for some reason. It’s hard when those things happened with the show and your real life kind of leak and you know, you care about your character’s relationships as much as your real relationship, but it’s still very weird.
Jace I mean, the final image of series six is Will and Geordie walking shoulder to shoulder down the aisle of the church. And I think it is sort of the best metaphor for the two of them finally sort of being strengthened by this conflict and emerging stronger for it. But I do think as well, it is a sort of a testament to your friendship with Robson as well that it ends on sort of this note of the two of them as the sort of central relationship of this series and that their friendship is ultimately at the heart of this show. Does it feel that way? Is this sort of the central key dynamic?
Tom It definitely. I think it’s funny because when you’re filming you, you don’t kind of realize your place in the show and in the same way until you watch it. And what’s wonderful about Grantchester is that it’s it’s not always about the crying. I mean, I watch it both as a fan and someone in it, and not that the crimes are ever forgettable, but because they have such strong relationships with Mrs. C and Leonard or Cathy and Geordie. Although this series, obviously that’s it’s not as strong. But and then me and me and Geordie is the I can watch it and almost forget about the crime and just have fun watching the characters bicker and love each other and every different emotion they get to go through together.
Jace Series seven is set in the long, hot summer of 1959. What can you tell us about what lies ahead for Grantchester when it returns? Where is the story going in the very broadest sense?
Tom In series seven me and Geordie are back stronger than ever. But one of the characters has a very life-changing thing happen that they keep secret from everyone but one of the other characters, and that runs throughout the whole series. And really, once it’s out, it causes a lot of a lot of problems, but not like in the series we’ve seen before, this one’s a lot more. It’s very touching. The one thing that’s slightly different is that we have a crime that is not just a crime of the week, it runs through a few episodes. So that’s something that makes things different. It’s having a recurring crime which are very excited to have in the episode that I direct. This is where it stops and then comes to a conclusion in episode six one, I don’t think the audience will be expecting.
Jace As you say, you’re stepping behind the camera to direct episode three of Grantchester. How did this opportunity come about for you?
Tom The honest answer I was drunk in a hotel with Al and Chris Sherif our line producer and I originally pitched it as Al and I direct it together. But um, but because of the way it was doing six, they could only be around, which is just step back and look, I can’t. It’s too much of a workload. And now I would have loved to have done with him, it would have been possible to do it very well together. But I did discover it is a different workload and I don’t regret taking it on at all. But it was it was tough. And you know, you can sit drunk in a hotel and go and shoot a scene like this and you know, for me, directing something I always wanted to do. And I don’t know, maybe even more than being in front of the camera. Sometimes since being a kid, it was always about storytelling. And, you know, whether it was me as an actor doing that or as a, you know, hopeful one day filmmaker. And I knew that being the lead in a show, and knowing that Shuan Evans in Endeavour was doing it is that I thought, You know what? I might as well take a punt at asking because it may be the only time I get to step on the directing ladder. And I like to think that they exactly know that I love and cherish and am passionate about the show and how it’s made. So I like to think, and obviously they thought the same was that they were a safe pair of hands. But how I actually pitched myself was I hung over the next day. So after my strange audition with the line producer of how I would shoot made up scenes, as I just said to Emma on the phone, I said, ‘Look, can I do this?’ And she then mulled over and she said, ‘Have you shot anything before?’ I said, ‘Look, I did short films when I was in college, but I don’t know even where they are anymore. But I said when I was filming this film with Tom Hanks called Greyhound, I was kind of bored as you are on a film set. And with my new best mates on this, this thing. And so we just started. I just started to start making these little short films on my phone, of which we had a premiere because, you know, all together, they came to about thirty five minutes worth of material.’ These mockumentary kind of weird every genre I packed into these things. And also Stephen Graham and Tom Hanks were in them. ‘So technically’, I said to Emma, ‘I have directed Tom Hanks, and I don’t think you could turn me down.’ But she said she said she actually saw my little film and she said, ‘I’m not going to send this to WGBH or ITV because it’s insane, but you do have the job.’
Jace Episode three of series seven of Grantchester will mark your first official credit as a director. Is it something we can expect more from you in the future? Would you consider doing director for higher work on another drama, say, or are you looking to make a feature? What’s your next sort of challenge?
Tom I definitely like 100 percent, directing is something I’m going to do more. I mean, I want to find another acting job first. You know, I’ve been doing Grantchester now. It’s been waiting for me for a year and a bit back to back, pretty much. And I am looking forward to not playing a vicar just for a little bit, but directing wise. I got such a thrill out of working with such wonderful people and seeing everything in my head for a couple of months before we start, so we just come together. And yet it is tough, but I think I’m really proud of what I’ve done and hopefully the execs are as well. Maybe I’ll go out in the wide world and try to find work as a director and whatever it is. I mean, I want to make good stuff and I’ve got ideas in my head, but I want to try. Yeah, I’d love to be a director for hire, went out and make TV shows and films, it would be great.
Jace Tom Britney, thank you so very much, as always.
Tom Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.
Jace While we’ve reached the end of MASTERPIECE’s 50th year on air — which is a remarkable thing to say out loud! — we’ve got some exciting shows just over the horizon. A second season of All Creatures Great and Small — and a new, David Tennant-led Around the World in 80 Days — are coming to your screens at the top of 2022.
Coming up first, though — we’ll have a special preview of the highly-anticipated second season of our Jane Austen adaptation, Sanditon.
Justin Young I’ve always seen these three series as a sort of trilogy. I think that the Charlotte Heywood Trilogy, series one, two, three, by the time we get to the end of series three, it’ll feel like that’s the end of one novel. And whether there are subsequent series, we shall have to wait and see.
Jace That’s Sunday, December 5, right here on MASTERPIECE Studio.
MASTERPIECE Studio is hosted by me, Jace Lacob, and produced by Nick Andersen. Elisheba Ittoop is our editor. The executive producer of MASTERPIECE is Susanne Simpson.
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