Saving souls and solving crime: Cop teams up with vicar in 'Grantchester'

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Rachel Jones / TV Media
Tom Brittney and Robson Green star in "Grantchester"

Tom Brittney and Robson Green star in "Grantchester"

What more do the people of Grantchester have to hide? You'd be surprised. Your favorite British crime drama is back again, and it's gaining momentum after some major changes. You can see the Season 5 premiere of "Grantchester" when it airs Sunday, June 14, on PBS.

The fictional show is set in the real-life town of Grantchester, England, characterized by rolling hills, countryside picnics, and, apparently, murder. Throughout the show's run, the picturesque town has seen some of the most gruesome murders and crimes imaginable. While Insp. Geordie Keating (Robson Green, "Strike Back") is on the case, he can't do it alone, and he relies on the town's vicar, Will Davenport (Tom Brittney, "Outlander"), to help him out. Geordie knows the value of an inside man who knows many of the town's secrets.

As the show returns for a reinvigorated season with new faces and characters, you'll see some of your old favorites still knocking around Grantchester. The reliable Tessa Peake-Jones ("After Louise," 2019) returns as the newlywed Mrs. Chapman, formerly Mrs. Maguire. Cathy Keating (Kacey Ainsworth, "EastEnders"), the inspector's wife, is also back, as well as the gentle curate, Leonard Finch (Al Weaver, "Colette," 2018).

Last season, we met Amelia Davenport (Jemma Redgrave, "Howards End," 1992), who is Will's mother, and she returns this season. Fans will meet two brand new characters in the upcoming episodes: Diana (Paula Wilcox, "Mount Pleasant"), Cathy Keating's mother, who brings some psychological elements to the story as she struggles with bipolar disorder, and Ellie Harding (Lauren Carse, "The Mallorca Files"), a reporter who becomes fast friends with Will -- it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops and whether there is another love connection around the corner.

If you haven't been watching "Grantchester" from the beginning, you may not know that Will was not the original vicar of Grantchester. In fact, his face is practically new to the series.

The town's leading clergy was previously Sidney Chambers (James Norton, "Little Women," 2019), who left the show towards the beginning of last season. Chambers, who loved God, jazz and drinking, was the tour-de-force that gave the show its momentum. Broken after serving in the war, he learned tough and compelling lessons about faith and love and repentance. His character made the ultimate choice between his deep love for Amanda Kendall (Morven Christie, "The A Word") and the church to which he had planned to dedicate his life. We were crushed by his tear-jerking departure, but his exit made sense and allowed for new blood to be pumped into the show's ever-pulsing plot.

All these deep and brooding characters are actually based on those in the series of novels known as The Grantchester Mysteries, written by James Runcie. Like their television counterpart, the books are also set in the town of Grantchester and follow Canon Sidney Chambers in his crime-solving efforts. Published between 2012 and 2017, there are six books in the set, and interestingly, each book is actually made up of multiple short stories, much like the tales of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but these mid-century tales have a lot more emotion driving their main characters.

Tom Brittney as seen in "Grantchester"

Tom Brittney as seen in "Grantchester"

The show that's grown from the rich soil of Runcie's books first aired in October 2014 and is produced by Masterpiece and Lovely Day. It features Diederick Santer ("Jane Eyre") and Rebecca Eaton ("Sherlock") as executive producers and has been met with high praise from both fans and critics, scoring an impressive 95% from Rotton Tomatoes.

It's safe to say the show is in good hands. With his excellent performances in both "Outlander" and "Call the Midwife," Brittney is the perfect choice to play the dreamy-eyed Will and has successfully ushered in a new wave of intrigue and drama. This vicar is much younger than the last and represents a generational shift that was happening across Britain during the late 1950s. Will is not haunted by the war, and he starts off high on an ecclesiastical pedestal, perfectly positioned for a fall from grace. With so many avenues for his character to take, it'll be exciting to see where Season 5 of "Grantchester" takes him.

We haven't been left totally in the dark about where the show will go from here, however. We're seeing more of Geordie and Cathy's dynamic relationship as Cathy settles into her new job. In fact, everything seems to be "settling in" as Will becomes comfortable with the town and its residents, gaining their trust and learning their stories. But when everything appears to be perfect within the town of Grantchester, you know there's trouble brewing behind the scenes.

PBS has hinted that this could be the show's darkest season yet. However, the show has always been great at using humor to cut the tension. We're predicting that, with what we've seen from Will and Geordie's relationship so far, this season could be one of the most entertaining, too.

Even if you haven't been a diehard "Granchester" fan (like some of us), now is the perfect time to get yourself hooked. Watch Davenport and Keating team up to solve some twisted murders on the idyllic British countryside. Tune in Sunday, June 14, for the premiere of Season 5 on PBS.