James Norton as Sidney Chambers in Grantchester 

Canon Sidney Chambers

I don't know what it is with Mr Chambers (James Norton) when it comes to women (aside: including me). It's a mystery  (aside: no, it isn't, if you take a proper look at the pictures above and below) . They all fall for him, while he barely notices them or their interest in him. Canon Sidney Chambers is so distant from the archetype of vicars we've had on TV so far: he is lovely, clever, good-looking. His strength is his compassion, his distinctive sign is that he is a good man in a bad world.  He isn't flawless, he has a temper, drinks a lot of whisky, loves jazz and a game of cricket,  is haunted by his war memories and tormented by an impossible love. To cut it short, we have a romantic hero wearing a clerical collar, instead of a funny caricature with false teeth and a silly voice. (aside: I have a crush on James Norton's voice and accent).  

"We're talking about wine, and crime, and love. Sometimes I think there is nothing we cannot say to each other."
Sidney & Geordie

As one of the characters in season two puts it: a vicar and a copper, sounds like the start of a joke one usually is not particularly keen to hear. But Sidney Chambers and his DI friend, Geordie Keating (Robson Green),  make for the start, the rising action, the climax and the happy ending of both good drama and good comedy sequences. They are very different but complementary. They are really good friends and great at crime-solving.
In season two their relationship is tested by their different vision of crucial issues, such as death penalty and women. For Sidney death penalty is a sin, killing is always a sin; for Geordie, in that case, it is justice.  Sidney is sure there is no woman - except one who is already married-  right for him out there, instead Geordie is sure he can help Sidney find his Eve and forget  the married one. Drama and comedy ensue for the two great friends.  

Crime-solving before CSI  (but nothing like Sherlock)

The mysteries of Grantchester are set in the fifties, that is b.f., before forensics. Sidney has to rely on intuition in crime-solving. Moreover, his talent as a detective lies especially in his ability to listen and to understand far more than he is being told. People share confidences that they wouldn’t with anyone else,  particularly the police, this is why Geordie finds the perfect partner in the young vicar.  Sidney has to decode conversations in which privacy is held and secrets are dangerous. He has to understand both what drives people to commit acts of desperation and what may eventually redeem them. You see? Nothing like CSI,  nor even Sherlock. The most important aspect in Grantchester is not how it happened,  but the effect of murder on people.

Sidney & Amanda

I love Amanda's character (Morven Christie)  and I find the relationship between her and Sidney quite extraordinary. They are soul mates but, mainly, they are very good friends and, when Amanda marries Guy Hopkins, they become unhappy star-crossed lovers. Why does that happen? Why  does Amanda marry another man? Because Sidney and her are prisoners of the still strict class system and its conventions. Amanda is too posh to marry a country vicar, so Sidney never proposes,  because he thinks she can do better, she deserves better.
In series one Amanda is witty, vivacious, fond of her job and with a passion for life. In series two she's the ghost of herself. Her married status has made her unhappy, numb, lonely and heartbroken. When asked by Sidney what married life is like she answers:  "Someone's always there for you, knows your thoughts before you know them yourself, laughs at your jokes,  listens to your stupidities, lightens your sorrows." 
Well, nothing of that actually belongs to her married life. That is what her relationship with Sidney has always been like. Pretty special, that is.  Great emotional scenes with Amanda and Sidney in season two!

Mrs Maguire

Mrs M (Tessa Peake-Jones) is such a great character, we owe to her so many hilarious Grantchester moments! But she is not only a comic character, she's also the touching portrayal of a woman,  who has never really experienced love, and who finally finds her place in the world when she starts taking care of vicar Sidney Chambers as the son she's never had. She's stubborn, proud and jealous of any woman who can steal Sidney from her. She suffers deeply when she sees him suffer and she's always worried for him. However, hear, hear: Mrs M has a love interest  in season two!


Leonard Finch (Al Weaver)  is  a funny but reassuring presence in Sidney's life. He lives and works with Sidney, but lacks his mate's charisma and talent. Anyhow, he has grown as a character  in season two and we come to discover he is a sensitive, generous soul, not just a weird know-it-all. He is scared of people, loves books and is confused about so many things, including his own sexual identity.  His scenes with Mrs M are priceless, but he also contributes some very touching moments in the second season. 

Englishness: Grantchester & Cambridge

James Runcie, author of the Grantchester Mysteries about the village of Grantchester: 

"The sense of a continuous and quintessentially English tradition is palpable"

What many people do not know is that Grantchester is a real village near Cambridge.  Most of the outdoor scenes in the series are shot in Grantchester and Cambridge. Many villagers have worked as extras in the series.
A visit to Grantchester is the perfect day out. It ticks every box of Englishness: the picturesque church,  the idyllic village setting,  a picnic on the Meadows or a pub lunch, followed by a punting trip on the river Cam and then a delicious cream tea. 

“Day long and watch the Cambridge sky
And, flower-lulled in sleepy grass
Hear the cool lapse of hours pass
Until the centuries blend and blur
In Grantchester, in Grantchester”.

That’s a poem by Rupert Brooke, “The Old Vicarage, Grantchester”,  written in a Berlin café in 1912, just before the First World War, when he was thinking about home. 

Grantchester series 2 DVD is available at amazon.co.uk


Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Maria, I referred to him as The Dishy Vicar when talking with friends, and now they all are calling him that!

Maria Grazia said...

Dishy he is, Jean!:D