Back in 2017, ITV's beloved mystery series Grantchester hit what has become a common snag for popular shows around the Season 3 mark. Success had come calling and star James Norton wanted to answer it. The same thing happened on Downton Abbey with Dan Stevens a few years back, and more recently with Essie Davis on Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries down under in Australia. The former decided to survive without Stevens' popular character Matthew Crowley and bumped him off in the Season 3 finale. The latter saw Davis as too central to the show's concept to do this and worked with the actress to move to a big screen serial format that allowed her to take other work, while simultaneously starting a TV replacement spinoff series, Ms Fisher's MODern Mysteries, with a new star.
Grantchester, by rights, should have been in the Miss Fisher situation, as Norton's character Sidney Chambers, is the leading man in the novels the show is based on. (Each book uses the familiar Harry Potter titling convention, Sidney Chambers and the...) But ITV got lucky in their decision to name the show after the town of Grantchester where Sidney is based, instead of after the character himself. This gave the production room to consider their program more of an ensemble piece. With Norton's character already in a "will he or won't he?" relationship with the church, the production could decide he finally won't, and bring in a new vicar to the parish.
That seems like exactly what will happen. Check out the trailer for Season 4, arriving this July on PBS:
This new vicar is Will Davenport, played by actor Tom Brittney. American fans may recognize him from stints on Lifetime's UnReal and AMC's Humans, but his most prominent role over here was in STARZ period drama Outlander, where he played Lieutenant Jeremy Foster. With Grantchester's new season currently airing on ITV this month and a premiere date officially announced in the States, Brittney is finally able to talk about his character, who will take over for Norton's Sidney Chambers.
Speaking to the UK site What's On TV, Brittney said Will's arrival would not be an easy one for the residents, but hopefully, they'd warm to him.
Will’s young, ambitious and optimistic, and he’s using his position in the Church to fight for equal rights and stand up for the common man. He’s lovely and charming, but underneath it, there’s quite a dark side that will come out. There are secrets from his past that he buries inside… He’s very strong-headed, and he can get angry sometimes, so he does boxing to helps him control that.
As for the detecting work:
Geordie just needs a vicar to help him, that’s how it works in Grantchester! Will doesn’t take to the detective work as easily as Sidney did, Geordie has to work a little harder. There’s a generation gap there, and Will sees the good in everything while Geordie sees the bad.
Speaking of which, with Will not taking to Detective Geordie Keating (Robson Green) right away, the show has apparently come up with a bit of an ingenious way to keep the detective coming round once Chambers heads off. It turns out Leonard Finch (Al Weaver) is picking up some of the sleuthing slack. The once junior partner in the congregation will be promoted to interim vicar this season, and find himself working with Geordie. According to The Express, their partnership has an entirely different kind of chemistry and is positively delightful, and fans have taken to Twitter asking for the next season to keep Leonard in the thick of Grantchester's mysteries too.
It sounds like viewers have lots to look forward to in the upcoming Season 4, and lots of hope for Season 5 to follow. Grantchester Season 4 will premiere on PBS stations on Sunday, July 14 at 9 p.m. ET. As always, check your local listings.