Perhaps the smartest thing series creator Daisy Coulam did in adapting James Runchie's The Sidney Chambers Mysteries was rename it Grantchester. By naming the series after the village instead of the character, she took a series about a James Bond wannabe jazz-loving priest, and made it an ensemble about a community. Her departure from the books allowed it to weather the exit of star James Norton as the titular Sidney Chambers, and now it will outlast his replacement, Tom Brittney, whose character, Will Davenport, will depart at the end of Season 8.
The confirmation Grantchester has been commissioned for Season 9 without Brittney is a far smoother transition than Norton's. The original actor's departure from the series caused a year's delay between Seasons 3 and 4 before confirming the obvious. Then the end of Season 3, in which Sidney broke up with the love of his life to stay in Grantchester, had to hastily take a hard left by having Chambers fall in love with a random American and follow her across the pond in the Season 4 premiere.
Though Season 8 still has five episodes to go on PBS, Grantchester obviously already has Will's exit planned and cast Brittney's replacement as Season 9 filming commences in the U.K. The new hot vicar taking over Grantchester's religious community will be played by Rishi Nair (Whitstable Pearl) as charismatic vicar Alphy Kotteram.
Here's the synopsis for Season 9. Warning, the following contains mild spoilers for the conclusion of Season 8.
It’s 1961, and life is good for Will and Geordie. The families are always together, from Sunday lunches to planning summer holidays, and with honorary grandparents Mrs. C and Jack and adopted uncles Daniel and Leonard; it’s one big happy family! But when Will is approached with a life-changing offer, can he leave Grantchester and Geordie behind? As Geordie struggles with personal loss and ever-growing family conflict between Cathy and teenage daughter, Esme, he has no one to turn to. But when he arrests an intruder breaking into the Vicarage, he may find his days of working with a Vicar are not over.
Reverend Alphy Kotteram has an instinctive distrust for authority and absolutely no desire to get involved in murder investigations. But Alphy and Geordie will discover they have a lot more in common than they first think, and Alphy will find that in Grantchester, murder is never far away. From deadly circuses, abandoned babies, and hostile historians to vanishing valets and murderous satirists. Together, Geordie and Alphy witness first-hand how religion can be corrupted but also how faith, love, and friendship can offer hope – and renewal.
In a statement, Brittney said, “I’ve had the most incredible time playing Will Davenport for the last five years. I got to solve crimes with my best friend and work with the best cast and crew I could ever ask for. I’ll miss it more than anything. But it’s time for the baton to be passed, as it once was to me, and I’m so excited for Rishi to join the Grantchester family.”
Robson Green said, “I feel so blessed to be embarking once again on this thrilling journey with the beloved series Grantchester. The anticipation is palpable; however, amid the exhilaration, a tinge of sadness lingers for all of us as we are bidding farewell to my close friend and remarkable actor Tom Brittney, whose portrayal of the charismatic Will Davenport will be sorely missed. Yet, we are all delighted in welcoming the incredibly talented Rishi Nair to the Grantchester family! With his exceptional skills and magnetic presence, I have no doubt that Rishi will be captivating the hearts of millions not only in the UK but also across the globe.”
Nair added, “I'm absolutely thrilled to be joining Grantchester. The welcome and support I’ve received from everyone has been overwhelming. The success of the show and the reason we are here for a ninth season is a testament to all the people that have previously worked on it. I'm really excited to get started and cannot wait for the Grantchester fans to meet Alphy and to see all that's in store for him.”
Grantchester Season 9 will also see the return of Robson Green as Geordie Keating, Charlotte Ritchie as Bonnie, Al Weaver as Leonard Finch, Tessa Peake-Jones as Mrs. C, Kacey Ainsworth as Cathy Keating, Oliver Dimsdale as Daniel Marlowe, Nick Brimble as Jack Chapman, Bradley Hall as DC Larry Peters, Melissa Johns as Miss Scott, and Skye Lucia Degruttola as Esme Keating. Season 9 will be penned by Coulam, with Richard Cookson, Nessah Muthy, and Ayeesha Menon. Directors include Katherine Churcher, and Rob Evans, with Weaver stepping behind the camera for two episodes.
Grantchester Season 8 continues with new episodes airing on most PBS stations on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET through August 6, 2023, when the season will conclude with a double episode. All episodes of Seasons 1-8 are streaming on PBS Passport for members. Season 9 is expected out in 2024.