Father Brown

Father Brown S5 (BBC One) [2017]

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fatherbrownFrom humble beginnings tucked away in the daytime schedules back in 2013, it seems that Father Brown has slowly become a genuine break out hit for the BBC, boosted by digital channel reruns in prime time on UKTV and healthy overseas sales to the United States and South Africa. It’s now returned for its fifth season, with 15 episodes including a prestigious Christmas special that was screened on the day before Christmas Eve and the rest following on a week later beginning on the public holiday after New Year.

Things are much the same in Kembleford where Father Brown (Mark Williams) serves as the local Roman Catholic priest aided by parish secretary and busybody Bridgette McCarthy (Sorcha Cusack). The curate is still getting caught up in various local crimes that bring him into contact (and conflict) with the insufferable local senior police Inspector Mallory (Jack Deam). This time, Mallory’s longtime sidekick Sergeant Goodfellow (John Burton) gets promoted to the regular cast, but missing from action is loveable black market ‘spiv’ Sid Carter – we don’t find out the fictional reason for his absence until well into the new series (see “The Sins of Others”), but actor Alex Price has been cast as Draco Malfoy in the West End production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Sid was chauffeur to local socialite Lady Felicia (Nancy Carroll) and she too only appears in the first two episodes of this latest run before departing to join her husband who has been newly promoted to a top colonial government post in Rhodesia. Fortunately her wayward niece Bunty (Emer Kenny) arrives just in time to effectively take over both Lady Felicia’s and Sid’s plot functions in their respective absences. Read the rest of this entry »

Father Brown S4 (BBC One) [2016]

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The start of a brand new year has these days become somewhat synonymous with the delivery of a freshly baked batch of stories for BBC One’s Father Brown daytime television series, and happily 2016 hasn’t let us down in that regard.

father-brownAfter a supersized run last year, this year sees a return to the regular ten episode stint. Very little has changed in Kembleford in the intervening 12 months and the show quickly settles into the same comfortable cosy feel with Mark Williams back as the eponymous clergyman, Sorcha Cusack returning as his parish secretary Mrs McCarthy and Nancy Carroll as local socialite Lady Felicia, along with Alex Price as her chauffeur (and the local good-natured spiv) Sid.

The one change to the line-up this year comes in the form of yet another new face at the police station, with Jack Deam arriving as Inspector Mallory. There’s no handover or explanation as to why he’s taken over from his predecessor (Inspector Sullivan, who had been played by Tom Chambers) but perhaps the events of the final episode of season three – in which Sullivan was forced to go on the run after being framed of the murder of a young PC and only saved by Father Brown’s snooping – speak for themselves as to why the character has moved on. In any case, the new boy in the inspector’s office is a determinedly odious character pretty much loathed by everyone including his own sergeant, so it seems certain that there will be no thawing out in relations or any hint of grudging respect developing between Mallory and Brown’s Scooby gang anytime soon.

Otherwise though things are so much the same as they ever were that there is very little to say in a review of the latest series that hasn’t been covered already by my individual pieces on the very first episode in 2013 and then about series two and series three in turn. In summary, while purists of the GK Chesterton short stories may well take serious umbrage at the liberties needed to reformat Father Brown for an ongoing television series, for most people these should be a delightful bit of classy gentle and genteel entertainment, and a real jewel of the otherwise largely tat-filled daytime TV schedules.

Even though there’s not much else to add in terms of a review, I’ll nonetheless carry on a Taking The Short View tradition by producing instead a thumbnail episode guide of the latest 2016 stories for handy reference. It contains some basic plot details of each story but no whodunnits. Read the rest of this entry »

Father Brown S3 (BBC One) [2015]

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You know that Christmas and New Year are well and truly over when you see Father Brown return to the daytime TV schedules in time to provide a warm and cosy pick-me-up to help us through the post-holiday slump and the cold grey days of January gloom that follow.

Father BrownMark William’s take on GK Chesterton’s Father Brown first appeared on our screens back in 2013 and these days seems to be going from strength to strength. Its season order has been upped from 10 to 15 episodes for this latest run which is also now getting distribution in the US, and whereas it took the first run over a year to be grudgingly released to the home entertainment market this time season 3 will be hitting the DVD shelves the minute the show finishes its latest run on BBC One. All of which are strong indicators that Father Brown is doing very nicely, thank you very much.

There’s another sign of a new confidence in the show on display in the very first episode of the third season, which features a complex swooping crane shot over the top of a train station and between two trains pulling in at the platform, the kind of thing that any evening drama would be right in feeling very pleased with itself for pulling off. Otherwise however there’s little discernible change to the show this year compared with its sophomore outing in 2014, and for that reason I find I have absolutely nothing to add review-wise to the words I penned 12 months ago and which you can read here.

However, the one useful update that I can bring you is an episode guide for season 3 with pen sketch reviews of each of the new stories airing in 2015: Read the rest of this entry »

Father Brown S2 (BBC One) [2014]

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While die hard purist fans of GK Chesterton might not all agree, I’ve been very pleased to see his Father Brown creation return in a second eponymous season of ten episodes in the daytime BBC One schedule.

fatherbrownStory-wise I think we’ll just say that the show has veered off from any genuine fidelity to Chesterton’s original short stories in favour of the TV production practicalities of giving the priest a stable base in the Cotswolds and a recurring supporting ensemble cast. If you can get around these liberties then what you’re left with is a very nice and pleasant cosy murder mystery series, albeit one that actually has more heart and head under the surface than you’d usually expect from such apparently easy-going fare. Read the rest of this entry »

Father Brown – The Hammer of God (BBC1) [2013]

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I’ve never been much of a devotee of GK Chesterton’s Catholic cleric detective, but I did become rather partial to the BBC Radio 4 adaptations which starred Andrew Sachs in the title role. Sachs, rather than Chesterton, is therefore my base reference for the character and the stories.

fatherbrownThe BBC have now made a new ten-part series of Father Brown stories, with Mark Williams (of the Harry Potter films and more recently seen on TV as Rory’s dad in Doctor Who) as Father Brown. He’s not exactly how I saw the character – he’s rather more down to earth, and rather than being genteel and self-effacing to the point of invisibility, this Father Brown is quite forthright and even downright pushy when he needs to be. Fear not, it’s nowhere near as extreme as Margaret Rutherford’s reinterpretation of Miss Marple from the Agatha Christie version – but it’s a definite shift from the source stories that won’t be welcomed by the strictest Chesterton adherents. Read the rest of this entry »