Tessa Peake-Jones interview: Mrs C faces ‘a test of her faith’ in new ‘Grantchester’

Tessa Peake-Jones is back as Mrs Chapman as Grantchester returns for a seventh season.

Based on the novels by James Runcie, ITV’s popular ’50s crime drama series has been running since 2014.

Six brand new episodes of Grantchester are airing on Friday nights in the UK, set during the long hot summer of 1959.

Peake-Jones is joined once again by Robson Green as DI Geordie Keating, Tom Brittney as Will Davenport, Al Weaver as Leonard Finch, Kacey Ainsworth as Cathy Keating, Oliver Dimsdale as Daniel Marlowe, Nick Brimble as Jack Chapman, Melissa Johns as Miss Scott, and Bradley Hall as Larry Peters.

Season 7 will premiere in the US later this year on PBS.

Watch the trailer:


With the new season launching on ITV tonight, here’s a sweet chat with Tessa Peake-Jones about what lies ahead in this year’s episodes:


Where do we find Mrs C at the beginning of series seven?

“At the beginning of this series, Mrs C is having a go at opening a cafe with her beloved Leonard. Jack has put some money into it so Mrs C feels she is able to, and should have some involvement and say in it.

“However she gets a bit bossy and takes over with serving the customers and the general running of the place much to Leonard’s annoyance. It’s quite good fun! She’s feeling happy about everything in her life.”


Mrs C makes a shocking personal discovery in this series, can you talk a bit about that?

“She hasn’t been feeling her best and is visited by the doctor and from this point life changes quite radically for Mrs C.

“She is a very private woman and keeps this personal illness to herself for as long as possible. She will be faced by some demons this series and will be challenged with how she’s going to handle this.

“Mrs C becomes testy to those around her because she doesn’t want to worry people and suffers in silence which then makes her very grumpy and distracted. Her intentions are good in not telling her loved ones but it makes them question ‘what on earth is the matter with her?
It’s also a test of her faith, which was of course tested last series when Leonard had to go to court.

“This made her question how she felt about homosexuality and her how her beliefs related to that. This time it’s a lot more personal and she’s asking God, ‘where are you when I need you?’”


How are things between her and Jack?

“Well, their relationship is a bit fractured at the beginning of the series. Jack has no idea what’s going on with Mrs C and he is actually a bit paranoid and suspicious about her behaviour and that she might be seeing someone else or heaven forbid, having an affair.

“She’s being a bit shifty and disappearing and Jack doesn’t know what she’s up to and thinks she may have fallen out of love with him. Of course once the audience discovers what’s behind this behaviour they’ll see why she’s behaving this way. Hopefully by the end of the series they’ll be coming together again.”


What are the themes that are explored in this series?

“In this series they are exploring how people face challenges whether that’s illness or belief systems. These belief systems don’t always necessarily mean belief in God, it’s more about questioning who they are and what they believe in.

“I think the theme of what people mean to one another is also explored, how they value friendships, lovers, husbands and wives and all the characters are challenged in that way.”


Bonnie, played by Charlotte Ritchie, joins this season as Cathy’s niece. What was it like having her in the cast?

“It was absolutely glorious! She’s a gorgeous young woman and Ghosts is my favourite programme on television at the moment so I was already a huge fan of hers before she stepped onto the set of Grantchester.

“This programme is known for its friendliness and family feel and everyone just ticks along so brilliantly together both in front of and behind the camera and Charlotte just felt like another member of the family, she’s lovely!”


How is Mrs C’s relationship with Leonard?

“At the beginning of the series their relationship is under some strain because Leonard really wants to make a go of this cafe and it’s a completely new direction for him and Leonard feels Mrs C is squashing all of his ideas.

“He finds at one point that she has changed all of the decor and everything Leonard has planned for the cafe is covered in gingham and bunting, completely Mrs C’s style, which she thinks is lovely and exactly how she thinks it should look. Leonard is trying to create an avant garde poetry and arts centre for creatives and Mrs C doesn’t get that at all.

“Having said that, their relationship always recovers because they have such a great friendship, although they get very irritated with each other there is always a real warmth between them. Leonard is the one who eventually Mrs C turns to about her diagnosis and he metaphorically holds her hand all the way through it.

“Theirs is a very touching relationship with a real mother, son dynamic to it. Both of them know what’s at stake if things go wrong and Leonard turns out to be a fantastic support to her.”


There are always some really good guest stars in Grantchester. Who would you most like to have as a guest star?

“We really have seen a lot of amazing guest stars over the years, it’s been seven years worth and each episode has at least four or five guests.

“I’m always thrilled with whoever comes to join Grantchester and I’m surprised year on year with who comes in and it’s a bonus that all the guests we’ve had have always been so lovely!”


Grantchester is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.