James Runcie

Grantchester S1 E1-2 (ITV)

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It’s hard to imagine a TV drama series that could be any less ambitious than Grantchester, in which a 1950s local Cambridgeshire vicar cycles around his parish solving some rural mysteries. You could have made this show 30 years ago with perhaps a cameo from Joan Hickson and it would have looked and felt exactly the same as it does now, here in 2014. Normally these days when a TV company makes a period-set drama you get that oh-so-knowing post-modern ironic edge to the proceedings, a nod and a wink to the audience to say “Yes, we know it’s a bit twee, but actually we’re really rather cool and smart hipsters once you get to know us,” but not here: Grantchester is as painfully earnest and uncomplicated as its lead character Sidney Chambers.

Not that this is a necessarily negative observation, however. There’s a time and a place for something warm and simple that you can wrap around you on a dark autumnal evening while you’re sitting there getting ready for bed, drinking a hot chocolate with the cat sleeping snuggly in your lap while the rain lashes against the window. But you do wonder why no one at ITV noticed that they already made something very similar in terms of a period crime drama set in a university city (Endeavour, not to mention the BBC’s Father Brown daytime adaptations) and also wondered if there really needed to be any more undemanding cosiness in a schedule that already boasts Downtown Abbey on Sunday nights. Read the rest of this entry »