Farewell then, Sidney Chambers. After three-and-a-bit series of solving crimes and moping about – with the occasional bit of vicaring when the mood took him – TV’s dishiest reverend has quit Grantchester for a new life (and love) in America.
Of course, our hero (James Norton) couldn’t leave before cracking one last case: finding justice for a murdered prostitute, and uncovering a spot of council corruption into the bargain.
As usual, he achieved this by a mixing brilliant leaps of deductive logic with a neon-lit trail of highly convenient clues, including an actual matchbook, and a silver necklace he was able to match to a puncture wound he’d fleetingly glanced at in a mortuary days earlier. So now he’s a forensics expert as well. Lord knows what hapless plod Geordie Keating (Robson Green) is going to do without him. Some proper police work, presumably, instead of letting Sidney do all the legwork, then rocking up at the end to read the rights.
It’s an odd fish, Grantchester. While Oxford struck lucky with the cerebral, cryptic crossword plotting of Inspector Morse, Cambridge’s equivalent is basically Cluedo with punting. But while the flimsy stories are every bit as silly as Midsomer Murders, in other ways the show takes itself oddly seriously: the subject matter - like this week’s tale of violence and sexual exploitation in the slums - is often dark, and composer John Lunn appears to think he’s scoring The Killing.
Sidney, meanwhile, is a shell-shocked war veteran in the throes of a permanent, whiskey-and-sweat-soaked existential crisis; this week, he woke up in such a hot mess after a night on the booze and fags that his disapproving housekeeper (Tessa Peake-Jones) threatened to call the Archdeacon. Again.
Fortunately, the love of a good woman (Simona Brown’s sassy civil rights activist Violet) was enough to save him from himself. So there was just time for once last sermon (‘Sometimes God has a different path for us…’) before he scarpered, to be replaced by a new vicar, played by Outlander’s Tom Brittney. Let’s hope he’s happy to carry on the unpaid detective work – or poor old Geordie really will be in a fix.
Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family (BBC One)
In this sort-of sequel to that edition of Who Do You Think You Are?, Danny Dyer – Cockney geezer and surprise 22 times great grandson of Edward III – bowls about exploring his noble lineage in typically blokeish fashion, from the Vikings (“like the Asterix and all that caper,” he noted, wrongly) to the Tudors. It’s fitfully amusing, but doesn’t quite succeed in re-bottling the lightning of the astonishing original.
True Detective (Sky Atlantic)
Four years after its misfiring second season, Nic Pizzolatto’s brooding crime anthology – this time focusing on the murder of a young boy and the hunt for his missing sister in 80s Arkansas – recaptures something of the swampy, southern gothic vibe of the original run. Mahershala Ali is hypnotic (if mumbly) as detective Wayne ‘Purple’ Hays, in a slow-burning tale that moves between multiple timelines in an atmosphere thick with dread and foreboding.
Published in Waitrose Weekend, January 24, 2019
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