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Series / Grantchester

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From left to right: Sidney Chambers, Geordie Keating, Will Davenport

Grantchester is an ITV mystery program that first broadcast in 2014 based on ‘’The Grantchester Mysteries’’ stories written by James Runcie. It also airs on PBS in the US.

Sidney Chambers (James Norton) is an Anglican priest in 1950s Britain who, not entirely satisfied with the life of a clergyman, takes up an interest solving mysteries. He teams up with Inspector "Geordie" Keating (Robson Green), who reluctantly accepts Sidney's help at first. The two quickly bond, however, and are soon best of friends. As the series progresses, it begins exploring the characters' complicated personal lives and tracks Sidney's increasing disillusionment with life in the clergy.

Sidney departs in Series 4, having found new purpose in the American Civil Rights Movement. He's replaced by Will Davenport (Tom Brittney), a former inner-city chaplain who's taking up his first post as a parish priest. Will is much more enthusiastic about his calling as a clergyman but, despite his protestations, finds himself drawn into Geordie's criminal investigations.


This program provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Sidney and Geordie both joke about being alcoholics, but it’s clear that Sidney, at least, drinks too much even for the time period.
    Sidney: “Are we alcoholics, Geordie?”
    Geordie: “Probably.”
  • Ambiguously Bi: Leonard has been shown in situations where he could be romantically linked to both men and women.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Mrs. Maguire can only berate Sidney after he rushes into a burning house to save a woman.
    Mrs. Maguire: “You stupid man! You stupid stupid man!”
  • Armoured Closet Gay/Bury Your Gays: One mystery revolves around how homosexuals had to keep their desires secret because homosexuality (classified as Gross Indecency) was a crime in 1950s Britain. Leonard also struggles with having to keep his sexuality a secret, although Sidney and Geordie are implicitly supportive and Will is more outspoken in his acceptance.
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  • Asshole Victim: The penultimate murder victim of the second series was abusive towards his wife and children before the wife got her revenge, tainting his beer with rat poison and leaving him to die in prison.
  • Behind the Black: In the pilot episode, the murderer tries to push a woman onto train tracks, but Sidney jumps in from the side to save her just before she falls. To grab her in time, he must have been practically standing next to her, yet somehow remained unnoticed by either the murderer or her intended victim (both of whom would have recognized him).
  • Berserk Button: Sidney goes absolutely apeshit on Geordie after the latter makes fun of his neverending support for the recently-executed Gary Bell in the most callous way possible: comparing Gary's manslaughter of Abigail Redmond to Sidney having killed during the war. Naturally, this pushes the previously patient Sidney past his limit.
  • Big Fancy House: Will Davenport's family live in one. Will hates the privilege it implies and the strain its upkeep has placed on his mother. When he inherits it at the end of Series 4, he immediately proposes to sell it.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The new Archdeacon of Series 3. Unlike the first Archdeacon, this one seems genuinely kind and always opens his meetings by giving Sidney and Leonard well-deserved praise for their accomplishments. Right up until he uses that same tone of voice to pick apart any aspect of their personal lives that he finds unbecoming in the church.
  • Black Cap of Death: The judge presiding over Gary Bell's murder trial puts it on at the trial's conclusion.
  • Bookends: The first and last episode of the first series both include a scene where a prostitute annoyed at Geordie tells him to "bugger [himself] sideways". Needless to say, she's friendlier towards Sidney.
  • Broken Pedestal: Over the course of the second series, Sidney's faith in the Archdeacon is shattered as he learns of his role in Sam's sexual improprieties.
    • In series 5, Will's trust in a friend, Vic, who helps wayward young men find their way through boxing, is destroyed when two of them attempt suicide, with one of them succeeding, and he finds out from the survivor that they did it to escape Vic's molestations.
  • Busman's Holiday:
    • Sidney takes Geordie to London for a night of jazz and drinking. They end up helping investigate the murder of Sidney’s sister’s boyfriend’s sister.
    • Everybody goes off for a week at a holiday camp. Inevitably there's a murder, and despite Geordie insisting he's not going to get involved, it's not long before he's pulling rank on the junior officer assigned to the case and taking over.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Leonard is honest to a fault and awful at lying. However, this makes him perfect for breaking uncomfortable news, because he compensates by knowing how to soften the blow without hiding anything.
  • Celibate Hero: Will is abstaining until marriage. Geordie delights in needling him to see how close he'll draw the line with a partner.
  • The Chew Toy: Poor Sidney often finds himself on the receiving end of peoples' anger and grief, particularly in Season Two.
  • Contrasting Replacement Character: Will Davenport is younger and doesn't struggle with his faith as Sidney did. Will also prefers to listen to rock while Sidney was a jazz aficionado.
  • Curse of the Ancients: Mrs. Maguire often exclaims "What the Dickens?!?!" whenever she's angry or surprised. Sidney and Amanda find this amusingly quaint, even for the 1950s setting of the show.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: In the third mystery of the second series, Leonard says of a film he'd just seen, "It was riveting enough." His friend is quick to lampshade.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Will makes passing references towards a youth filled with debauchery, occasionally egged on by his abusive father.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Both in and out of universe for Leonard in episode 4.3, which follows on from Sidney's departure and has Leonard temporarily filling in both as parish priest and as Geordie's crimefighting sidekick. It turns out that he's not really up to either role.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Geordie gets the lion’s share of the scripts’ zingers and the fact that he’s so casual about them makes them sting all the more.
    • Sidney has his moments as well. For example, in the fourth mystery of the second series, Sidney sarcastically says yes to Geordie's question about whether Jesus became a ghost upon his resurrection on Easter Sunday and follows it up with an equally sarcastic remark.
    Sidney: Thank goodness for ghosts and the death penalty, or I wouldn't have a job.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Mrs. Maguire/Chapman has a very long character arc that shows her warming up to Sidney and Leonard and become a maternal figure in their lives.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Sidney frequently comes into conflict with other characters because his personal views are quite progressive for the 1950s while they are somewhat conservative for the present day audience of the books and TV series.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Sidney crosses it following Gary's execution. Thankfully, he gets better by the end of the second series finale.
  • Drink-Based Characterization: Sidney likes whiskey and a pint and hates sherry, the alcoholic drink stereotypical associated with Vicars (with the sense that vicars aren't really associated with drinking at all). These preferences mark Sidney as unconventional for a vicar.
  • Everybody Smokes: Par for the 1950s setting. Sidney and Geordie, especially, are rarely seen without a lit cigarette.
  • First-Name Basis: Will always insists that people shouild address him by name rather than proper titles. This shocks many people in the community.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Will struggles to articulate his attraction to Ellie Harding and proposes marriage very quickly. Ellie shoots him down because she won't enter into a marriage just so she can help a man get over his hang ups.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Surprisingly, the Archdeacon ends up being this for the second series, being responsible for Sam's brief stint at the parish, during which he knocked up Abigail and got her pregnant, resulting directly in both her and Gary dying by asphyxiation—Abigail during an abortion gone wrong, and Gary at the gallows. Otherwise, he doesn't do anything to directly oppose Sidney until the series finale, where he tries to win Leonard over in an attempt to remove Sidney, who by that point is at his weakest.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Sidney owns a black lab, a gift from Amanda, that he names Dickens after Mrs. Maguire’s favorite exclamation.
  • I'll Kill You!: The result of Sam Milburn crossing paths with Harding Redmond in the second series finale.
  • Implied Death Threat: During Gary's appeal, a noose is found just outside of the vicarage. Sidney immediately blames Harding and demands he tell him straight what he thinks instead of going out of his way to threaten him.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Davenports are broke but try to keep up appearances by maintaining a few rooms in their huge house while the rest fall into disrepair. Will's mother has resorted to pawning her belongings to try and pay the household staff.
  • Inspector Javert: Geordie is this regarding all things Gary Bell thanks to the influence of the Jerkass Ball, from having him virtually waterboarded near the end of the second series premiere to providing the crucial testimony that all but guarantees Gary a one-way trip to the gallows.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mrs Maguire's ex-husband Ronnie is ultimately revealed to be this. While he did steal his ex-wife's savings, he was doing it to save his other wife. However, it's acknowledged that his actions were pretty scummy.
  • Mercy Kill: A recent spate of deaths in Grantchester is due to a local doctor ending the lives of the old and infirm at their request.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: In season 4, when Geordie sees Cathy's supervisor Mr Hobbs flirting with her, he assumes she's cheating on him. She's not; Hobbs is a lech who tries it on with all the female staff. Eventually Cathy teams up with Mrs Chapman in a plot to get him sacked.
  • Moe Greene Special: One victim of the week in season 4 got this via a stoning.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Attempted in the second episode of the third series. Or so we're led to think. In reality it's an in-universe case of Die for Our Ship orchestrated by a too-enthusiastic Shipper on Deck.
  • Nice Guy: Sidney is a man who’ll try to make others happy even if doing so hurts him.
  • No Name Given: Geordienote  only goes by his nickname and his actual name is not heard at any time during the first series.
  • Not So Different: Mrs. Maguire softens her stance on Hildegard when the two women bond over having lost loved ones during World War Two.
    • Leonard, after a visit by his father, realizes that most likely he too was gay.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Sidney getting in a physical altercation with Geordie and falling into a life of vice shows how much of a number Gary's execution did on him.
  • Penny Among Diamonds: Sidney and Jennifer, his sister, grew up around, and are still friends with, extravagantly wealthy people but they don’t come from wealth themselves. Jennifer, at least, grew up wearing handmade clothes and is still teased for it by one particularly mean classmate.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Between Sidney and Geordie at the end of the fifth mystery of the second series, in a demonstration of how poisonous their opposing views on the death penalty ended up being, the final straw being Gary's execution.
  • Pretty in Mink: When Sydney and Amanda finally have a date, Amanda puts on one of her best dresses and a white fur wrap.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When Leonard confronts the Archbishop in the second series finale and rakes him over the coals for all the damage his sheltering of Sam Milburn did.
  • Running Gag:
    • People assuming Sidney likes sherry because it's considered a priest's drink. He thinks it's too bitter.
    • People assuming Sidney is a virgin. He's not.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Effeminate Extreme Doormat Leonard, and hard-drinking smoker and amateur sleuth Sidney.
  • Sexy Priest:
    • See for yourself.
    • Will catches the eye of many young ladies when he moves to Grantchester. Some even send him flowers to show their interest.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Sidney. This surprises many people because they assume that he was a chaplain due to his current profession. He was actually an officer in the Scots Guard and suffers from survivor guilt and flashbacks.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Sidney and Amanda are in love but are forced to ignore their feelings because Amanda’s wealthy father would never approve of her marrying someone of such humble means. Amanda, instead, enters into an arranged engagement with the son of her father’s business partner and she and Sidney have to acknowledge that they'll only ever be friends. This situation changes towards the end of Series 2 and the fall-out is covered in Series 3.
  • Stealth Pun/Visual Pun: In the first episode, Sidney sees a prostitute being booked at the police station and has a friendly conversation with her (and she also shows up in the last episode of the first series, and Sidney remembers her). It's quite likely that there is a reference here to a kind of stock British costume party called "Tarts and Vicars", but no one in the show references that (probably because the show's setting likely antedates this kind of party).
  • Tone Shift: The Mystery of the Week becomes increasingly incidental as the the subplots concerning the main characters' private lives move into the foreground. By series 4, the show's previews often didn't even mention the mystery plots at all (though they were still present).
  • Transparent Closet: Everyone spends the first series thinking Leonard is homosexual due to his sensitive nature and awkward manner in dealing with people. The scripts for the first two series liked to hint at tease at which way he would swing, liberally using Bait-and-Switch tactics. He eventually enters into a relationship with a local woman and proposes marriage. Unfortunately he can't keep up pretending to love her, and attempts suicide after the engagement is broken.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Jack Chapman is a well-off gentleman who urges Sylvia, his wife to treat herself. His money comes in handy when Sylvia and Cathy team up to get rid of a lecherous department store supervisor.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Geoff Towler in the second episode of Season 3. The victim's brother Munair rescues him from his wife's attempt to kill him, but because Geoff is a racist prick he can't thank him.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Sam Milburn's sex crimes ended up causing the deaths of both Abigail and Gary.
  • The Vicar: Sidney, although he's less uptight than the typical example of this trope. He's followed by Will. Leonard occasionally steps into this role when neither are available and does a fairly good job despite his lack of confidence.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • The murderer of the week in the penultimate episode of the second series is this, having poisoned her abusive husband's drink to protect her children.
    • The archdeacon in Season 3 is as well; unlike the archdeacon in season 2 (who was basically a corrupt shithead) he truly believes in the church but is overly domineering about it.
    • Season 4 has one in its fourth episode. The seemingly frail old Mennonite woman stoned the victim of the week and defenestrated her to protect young Adam from her.
  • Woman Scorned: A central plot point to a few scripts.
  • Wunza Plot: One's a priest, one's a copper. Together, They Fight Crime!!
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sidney and Geordie enjoy each other’s company as they exchange snide comments about each other.
  • You Do Not Have to Say Anything: The police use the 1950s version of this when arresting people.
    DC Atkins: “You’re not obliged to say anything if you do not wish to do so, but what you do say may be put into writing.”

How well does it match the trope?

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