Could you tell us a bit about where Geordie is at the beginning of this series?
Everyone appears to be very happy, everyone has their own ‘Garden of Eden’ so to speak. Mrs C and Jack, Leonard and Daniel, Geordie, Cathy and the family are all in a really good place and Will is the happiest he’s ever been.
They’re all on this fantastic holiday where the sun is shining and they’re all having fun, but as we know there needs to be some jeopardy in there! Very quickly something sinister and uncomfortable reveals itself that has a profound effect on all the main characters.
Geordie is happy that Cathy has grown in confidence at work and they have reached a great balance in their family life and they’re happy in their marriage, but he always knows that nothing good ever lasts, and especially for Geordie and Cathy the carpet is pulled out from underneath their feet.
As you say, in the first episode the whole gang goes to Merries. What was it like to film outside of Grantchester?
I was receiving phone calls from the production team who weren’t on set asking ‘Where is that place, I want to take my kids there!’ and that’s testament to the design team, they made it look amazing.
Although we were filming outside of Grantchester, it really is our happy place. I love filming there for all of the space it has, it’s always good to be there. Before we even start filming I always want to know if we will be filming in Grantchester, even if sometimes it’s only for a couple of days and if it’s for a few weeks it’s such a joy!
I’ve never done a sixth series of anything in my life! So being able to go back to a place that you love with a group of people who make you genuinely happy is wonderful!
Did you ever go to a holiday camp as a child?
Yes I did, and Merries reminded me exactly of what it was like. It was red coats instead of blue coats, and they all had the painted on smiles and everything felt a bit false, and that feeling of forced happiness and fun.
What does your character have in store for him this series?
This is the series where Geordie completely capitulates. We see Geordie’s past catch up with him, and it creates something completely corrosive in the storyline for him.
He was a prisoner of war during WWII and someone from his past arrives on the scene who he hasn’t seen since they were incarcerated together in a cell in Burma.
I was given license to go down a pathway of complete destruction with this that I’d never done before in my career, and the result is incredible powerful.
How are things between Geordie and Will this series?
Their relationship becomes incredibly volatile and that has consequences. It’s all about Geordie not seeing the world how Will sees it, and Will not seeing the world how Geordie sees it, and conflict occurs.
Will sees the world how it ought to be, whereas Geordie’s philosophy is that marching for peace is about as much use as praying for it, he doesn’t believe that we can sort problems out by confiding in an invisible friend. This causes real problems between Will and Geordie.
The friend that turns up from Geordie’s past really jeopardises the relationship between Will and Geordie to the point of fracturing their relationship. The only person who can relate is the person that went through the same things that Geordie did, and he is the only one that he can turn to.
That person is Johnny, who is played by the fantastic Shaun Dooley.
Was it good to be reunited with Tom Brittney and all the cast for filming?
I didn’t think it was going to happen! I was making documentaries and I thought drama won’t be able to be made, especially looking at the theatre world where everything had unfortunately closed down.
When I got the call that they’d worked out a system where, under Covid protocols we could make the show, it was fantastic!
I was so glad to be back filming with everyone.
What other themes and storylines can viewers expect to see in Grantchester series 6?
It’s all about the truth being on trial. For Geordie this is the truth about his job and how he feels about it, and the truth about how people feel about other walks of life in society.
It’s that undercurrent of something uncomfortable in Grantchester that engages the audience. It looks at this terrible dichotomy that existed in the 1950s.
Were you glad to be working during the pandemic?
I did have initial anxiety about it because as actors we work off expression, how people look and interact, it was really difficult to do that with masks on whilst we were rehearsing.
I couldn’t process what was actually happening, I was questioning my job. I had always thought eyes were the window to the soul, but you need to see the whole picture so that was really difficult initially.
However, the fact that there was a team there who were committed to getting the story
told and when you see the outcome and the result of what we filmed, you would never know there was a pandemic going on, it’s extraordinary.