More of the ’50s crime-fighter

Robson Green as Police Inspector Geordie Keating in Grantchester.

James Norton and Robson Green are back as the unlikely 1950s crime fighting duo, Vicar Sidney Chambers and Police Inspector Geordie Keating, in the third series of the popular Grantchester, currently on DStv’s ITV Choice (channel 123) at 8pm on Tuesdays. The chanel provided this sirte with a n interview with Green.

How does it feel returning to film a new series of Grantchester?

When the first script of a new series arrives you know it’s going to be quality because it’s written by Daisy Coulam. Then you want to find out how the journey is going to further develop with the various relationships on screen.

Has it still got those likeable ingredients? Does it still have those dramatic arcs within each relationship that the audience care about? And like any script you get, because you see yourself in it, you think, ‘Where is it going to take my character? Is there a development?’ Not surprisingly there was.

Grantchester is so refreshing. It develops in a way the audience will care about, want to follow and leave them wanting more. Which is essentially what you want with a long-running series.

When I get a script now I go, ‘Will I enjoy making this?’ And you’re 10 pages in and you go, ‘Yes I will.’

How is Geordie’s marriage to Cathy (Kacey Ainsworth)?

Geordie is paralysed with the burden of guilt and obligation, and has an overwhelming sense of routine. He feels the relationship is stale and redundant. But he’s looking at the wrong aspects of the relationship.

Geordie begins a campaign that sets out to destroy everything that is precious in his private life. Looking at the public face of Geordie, everything he has seems to be bright, rosy and healthy.

But there’s an undercurrent of something deeply uncomfortable. He begins to destroy the one thing he holds dear, which is his family.

The overriding arc of the whole series is that both Sidney and Geordie have crisis of self. They try to advise one another on how to deal with this. But they both very quickly realise they’re not qualified to give that advice.

It’s love versus duty, loyalty versus love, which are very powerful emotions and issues to play. One minute we’re dealing with betrayal, another with abandonment. But at the heart of it all is love.

Is storytelling even more important in today’s world?

I think it’s important to see things from other people’s points of view. Storytelling can change the way we think about the world we live in. But more importantly it makes us think about ourselves and the way we behave. We have a duty to remind the world that we are all one.

Geordie is not a fan of jazz or the ‘new’ sound of rock & roll. Is there an artist or band in real life you would travel a long way to see?

The last big concert I went to was the Rolling Stones. I used to be a huge heavy metal fan and I’d travel the country to see Motorhead, Rainbow and bands like that.

The last concert I went to in Newcastle, which is probably the best concert I’ve been to just for spectacle, quality and coming away with a life affirming sense of well-being, was Dolly Parton. She was sensational. But now I sit and listen at home on the radio. I live in Northumberland and go walking on the hills.

James Norton as vicar Sidney Chambers in Grantchester.

Do you get much attention from fans during Grantchester filming?

The public has welcomed Grantchester with open arms. We have a really loyal fan base. Especially for James Norton, of course. Who wouldn’t want a vicar like Sidney Chambers?

We get crowds, especially when we film in Grantchester itself. There are crowds every day there. They don’t pose a problem. They’re very obliging and welcoming. While the locals within the village we use as supporting artistes.

It’s been well received and rightly so. The writing is great; the storytelling is wonderful, with a great production team and cast.

Some think an actor’s life is all bright lights and glamour. Were there any moments during this series that summed up how far from the truth that can be?

There was one night where we were doing an exhumation scene. It was raining and it was freezing. And it was taking an eternity.

Not only were we fed up and the production team fed up, but also members of the public were fed up. So much so that about half a mile away, this guy shouted out of his window, ‘Turn off your lighting and go home!’ With added bad language. We just fell about laughing and couldn’t continue.

But other than that, our executive producer, Diederick Santer, calls Grantchester his happy place. And it’s true. I’m working with James Norton, Morven Christie, Kacey Ainsworth, Tessa Peake‐Jones, Al Weaver and Lorne MacFadyen. It’s a joy.

How do you reflect on the relationship between Geordie and Sidney in series three?

I think this new series is the best one yet. At the heart is that loving relationship between Sidney and Geordie. For Geordie, Sidney is the son he never had and for Sidney, Geordie is the friend he never had.

It’s the shorthand that you can’t quantify that really works. It’s the way they interact and relate to each other that sometimes isn’t necessarily in the script. It’s just implicit in the performance. James is so relaxed and charismatic in front of the lens, he makes it so easy.

We knew we worked well together immediately from the start of series one. And if you combine that with good writing and a good production team, you’re on to a winner.

A vicar and a detective work because it’s rooted in a dark truth. On the surface it’s quintessentially English, beautiful, tranquil, idyllic, and pristine. But there’s this undercurrent of something deeply uncomfortable. Whether it is racism, bigotry or whatever. The darkness that existed and the denial people lived in in the ’50s.

Aside from paying the bills, what has being an actor given you in life?

It’s given me stability. I’m doing something I love. That’s what acting has given me.

Storytelling is everything to me. It always has been from when I went to see Bedknobs and Broomsticks when I was that little kid with my mother. I’ve never shied away from the fact it’s all about the wonder of storytelling.”

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