Judging by the comments on Past Offences, the series disappointed fans of Chesterton and the properly-clued mystery, but more to the point outraged people with an eye for theological detail and period consistency. And yet it is undeniably popular, attracting 2.5 million viewers in the UK and selling into Australia, the US and Japan.
Personally I thought it was pretty good for a daytime drama, but not in the league of the best prime-time crime dramas. Although New Tricks…
In an interview with the Birmingham Mail, the star Mark Williams called for the show to move to an evening slot with better budgets (apparently each episode costs £250,000, as opposed to the £1 million for most prime-time period dramas).
‘I think Father Brown is extraordinarily good, and not because I am in it. Especially considering the pace we do them, because we don’t get properly funded, due to the BBC’s idea of how things should be done.’
There are some cast changes for series 2. The Polish refugee Susie Jasinski seems to have left the show. Hugo Speer’s Inspector Valentine is going to be replaced by Tom Chambers as Inspector Sullivan at the end of the first episode. Chambers says:
‘To Sullivan, Father Brown is like an itch that won’t go away. He finds him annoying, especially as he frequently outwits him. Sullivan bases his investigation on science and reason. He’s very into the forensics of his day. But he’s too busy looking at that to notice the human behaviour that Father Brown picks up on.’
We can also expect some stunts:
‘We’ve been developing bicycle action shots! We have a tracking vehicle, a rickshaw driven by cameraman Richard Hines, who cycles alongside me to get the shot. It’s very exciting doing stunts and crashes.’
Episode one is called The Ghost in the Machine and airs in the UK next Monday at 2.15. Here’s a rundown of the first five episodes:
1. The Ghost in the Machine
Father Brown is sceptical when a parishioner believes she’s being haunted by her sister who went missing years ago. However when she herself vanishes, he must investigate both disappearances.
2. Maddest of All
When an ex-serviceman drops dead in the street, Father Brown investigates the facility where he was a patient. Could something sinister lie beneath the surface at Danvers Retreat?
3. The Pride of the Prydes
The grand opening of Pryde Castle ends in disaster when a guide is struck by an arrow. Contrary to Inspector Sullivan, Father Brown becomes convinced that the motive lies buried in the family’s past.
4. The Shadow of the Scaffold
When convicted killer Violet is given a temporary reprieve from the gallows, she begs Father Brown to prove her innocence. With only three days in hand, can he find the real culprit before it’s too late?
5. The Mysteries of the Rosary
The mysterious disappearance of an old friend sends Father Brown and Sid on a quest to find the mythical Lannington Rosary. However can an old adversary, back from the dead, be trusted to help?
Guest stars for this series include Nick Moran, Annette Badland, Adrian Rawlins, James Fleet and Doctor Who‘s Tracey-Ann Oberman.