Grantchester star James Norton has opened up about his decision to leave the show.
The actor began playing vicar Sidney Chambers in the 1950s-set period drama’s first season in 2014, but announced his plans to depart 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.
Discussing his decision to quit Grantchester, Norton told Digital Spy that the move was “not an easy decision.”
He explained: “With acting, you can’t become complacent. You’ve got to keep moving forward. For me, the priority is always to find a role which is new and unfamiliar and challenging, so that was the problem with staying on Grantchester.
“It was a world I had come to know, and inevitably you begin to learn less, so whilst it was the happiest time I’ve ever had on any set, I realised that it was probably going to lead to being less challenged [going forward].”
Norton also revealed that there were various different options for his exit.
He said: “We talked about perhaps doing a special, a one-off. And we talked about me doing a whole series and having a new guy come in and we would run concurrently for six episodes.
“Y’know, there’s one version of this where, at the beginning of the series, it’s a letter from Sidney [saying], ‘I had to pack my bag and leave…’ and that would’ve just been so cynical. I would have hated to do that.”
However, the actor was ultimately happy with how his character has been replaced.
Norton joked: “By the end of the series, I think Sidney will be a distant memory! All Tom needs is a few episodes and then the show will have assimilated his character, his energy and it’ll be a new thing, in the best possible way.”
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.