As Grantchester returns for its third series this weekend, James Norton reveals that, while Sidney and Geordie's 'bromance' continues on-screen, he and Robson Green are real-life sporting rivals...
James Norton talks teasers as Grantchester returns for its third series...
Were you looking forward to coming back to film this third series of Granchester? "Yes, I love this show. With this alter ego, it's like putting on an old jacket. Working on Grantchester is like a group of friends having a reunion every few months and coming back for a party! It's a fun job to be a part of."
Where do we find Sidney as Grantchester returns this week? "Sidney’s very much involved in Amanda (Morven Christie) and baby Grace's life, but he's still living at the vicarage with housekeeper Mrs Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones), while Amanda’s living in a house nearby."
How’s that working out for them? "They are living this slightly confused life as he's a vicar, but he's exploring this 'thing' with Amanda – it's not really a relationship, no one's quite sure what it is. He's also like a father-figure to Grace. It all starts off quite fun, but more problems soon come to the surface, as Sidney’s torn between his faith and his love for Amanda."
Do you think Sidney and Amanda should be together? "What I would do in Sidney's situation is very different from what he might do. The fact is, Sidney keeps getting battered around the head with his faith and this series explores how his faith is being challenged. While Sidney's relationship with God is unwavering, he begins to doubt the institution of the church. You'll have to wait and see whether love conquers all…"
What's it like working with the twins who play baby Grace? "Oh, they are heavenly – they're amazing and incredibly well-behaved. It must be great for the parents. They just pass one around to five or six cast members in the scene and out of the scene and, as soon as one gets a bit tired, they switch them round. It's like a tag team! But they are little film stars in the making, that's for sure."
Is Sydney a father-figure type? "Yeah, I think he is. We've seen him in previous series with kids and he's good for kids; he's happy to make a fool of himself and that's what you need to be. So, he's not afraid of kids, and his age and being a religious man definitely triggers a broody side to him. He enjoys being a father-figure – Amanda notices that and it just adds to the confusion."
Are any of your mates having kids? "Well, I’m 31 now, so yeah. I’m not though, just in case that's the story!"
Central to Grantchester is the friendship between Sidney and Inspector Geordie Keating, played by Robson Green. Things got really tense between them last series – are they back to being the best of friends? "It did, yeah. But they are friends again; they realise they need each other. At the end of last series, we saw a real moment of reconciliation, but I think they’re always going to be quite different. It's an unlikely friendship, so there's always going to be conflict and a difference of opinion."
But you can confirm the 'bromance' does continue? "It does indeed, although off-set Robson's been driving me mad! He likes to think he beat me at golf – but he didn't. So, the rivalry continues."
Do we see you diving into any more freezing rivers this series? "No… There's lots of dancing instead this series. Music is so important to Sidney; he loves his jazz. Morven and I have had a couple of dances together, which I’ve really enjoyed. My mum and dad were really keen rock 'n' roll dancers back in the day, so they taught me a few moves!"
Your parents have appeared in previous series of Grantchester. Do they pop up in this one? "My dad's in it; my mum always comes along and rolls her eyes at him strutting around. This time, they both appear in episode four, as guests at the policeman's ball. They don't get to dance, but they are very much in shot. My dad's so cool!"
We've seen you with a shaved head to play Tommy Lee Royce in the last series of Happy Valley. Is Sidney’s hairstyle your favourite? "It's quite similar to my natural colour actually. My favourite was the skinhead for novelty value. I left Tommy's tattoo on once. I got on the train and some guys came up to me and said: 'That's some sick ink!'"
What’s next for you? "I've got a film, Flatliners, out later this year. I was filming that in Toronto last year and I literally went from the airport to the script read-through for Grantchester. So I started this with my head still in 'American' mode. I’ve also just done gangster thriller McMafia for the BBC. I'm so grateful for all these opportunities, but sometimes you do feel you’re stuck for breathing space. You've got to live a normal life in order to fuel."
Grantchester begins on Sunday, April 23 at 9pm on ITV.
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