James Norton has explained why he decided to quit Grantchester.
The actor has played vicar Sidney Chambers in the 1950s-set period drama series since it began in 2014, but announced he was going to quit the series last year.
He was replaced in the recent fourth season by Call the Midwife and Outlander actor Tom Brittney, taking over as DI Geordie Keating’s new crime-solving partner in the role of clergyman Will Davenport.
Norton has told Digital Spy that he and co-star Robson Green, who plays Geordie, “talked a lot” about his departure before the actor came to a final decision.
He revealed: “[Robson Green] understood where I was coming from. In order for me to continue with Grantchester, it would’ve required, I think, another big storyline.
“I hope and I expect the show will go on for many more series, so if we were to have started another Amanda cycle [Morven Christie’s character, with whom Sidney shared a complicated relationship]… that took three series and it was a wonderful journey to go on, but to start another journey like that… for me, it wasn’t the right choice.”
Discussing Green’s reaction, Norton said: “Robson was very understanding of that. He’s done so many of these [long-running series] so he knows what a heart-wrenching decision it was.
“So yeah, we discussed it a lot. We spent a lot of time working out what the best thing to do was, it wasn’t a brief overnight decision.”
Norton did admit that he feels some sadness about no longer being a part of Grantchester, saying: “It’s like leaving the party early – going home and knowing the party’s going on without you.”
He added: “Having said that, I am also immensely proud and happy to be leaving with the show in such a strong place, and to have so much love for it from the fans.”
As for his replacement, Norton wishes Tom Brittney and Robson Green all the best: “Robson is just the most personable, affable man… Robson Green loves being Robson Green, he just loves life… and it’s contagious!
“So no doubt he and Tom will have a lovely time, and the party will continue!”
Season 4 begins in the USA at 9/8c on Sunday 14th July on Masterpiece on PBS.
The first three seasons of Grantchester are available on DVD on Amazon.