Tom Brittney reveals all about Grantchester’s new rock ‘n’ roll vicar

Tom Brittney has a big dog collar to fill. In the new series of Grantchester, he takes over from James Norton's skirt-chasing crime-fighting Reverend Sidney Chambers. Is Brittney's Will Davenport as much of a cad?

Was it odd joining Grantchester when James Norton was still in place?

I think it is a good way of doing it. Obviously, people are going to be quite sad about losing James. But I think the transition will make it easier for people to stomach. I imagine it is quite tough to see the role you are leaving being taken over, but he was open about it, saying he was jealous that I was going to get this opportunity because he had so much fun in Grantchester.

Are there any similarities between your character Will and James Norton’s Sidney? Is Will a bit of a shagger too?

He may be, we will see. Sidney rides a bicycle and listens to jazz, Will rides a motorbike, wears a leather jacket and goes boxing. Will’s part of the new wave of rock and roll kids coming in at the end of the Fifties.

Is it a prerequisite you have to play a full-on psycho before being the Grantchester vicar? Your character in UnREAL was every bit as nasty as James’s in Happy Valley.

Oh, I guess so, yeah. I didn’t think about that. He played a total psycho and I played a rapist before playing this lovely vicar. Maybe that is the best way of doing it. You bounce back the other way and can prove you are a good person.

Hey, I would love to be Bond

How long before your price for becoming the next James Bond comes crashing down with the bookies, like James’s did?

Hey, I would love to be Bond. I would love to be considered in that conversation. And apparently if you even talk about it, you put your name in the ring. You know, I worked with Barbara Broccoli on my first-ever film. So maybe she will be keeping an eye on my career. I have been doing Krav Maga lessons, I think I look OK in a tuxedo, and I am a raging alcoholic – no, just kidding – so, I tick a few boxes.

You have a half decent co-star as well in your big film coming next year, Greyhound, based on CS Forester’s The Good Shepherd

Yes, he is doing OK, up-and-coming actor Tom Hanks! That was incredible. He is a reason I am in this business. I remember vividly watching Saving Private Ryan and thinking I would love to be him. And now I have done a war film with Hanks. That he wrote.

Probably on a typewriter…

Probably on a typewriter! I find that a fascinating obsession he has with typewriters. It must be such an ordeal doing rewrites. He was everything I hoped. A movie star. He has a bodyguard with him at all times. So there is a distance when you speak to him. But when you work with him – and all my scenes are with him – he talks to you like a normal guy. I had to pinch myself every time we had a conversation.

How were the nerves before your first scene with him?

I cried! It was the first time I have ever been completely and utterly starstruck. I saw him and was thinking, ‘This is not real, this is not real’ and I just started crying! I knew whatever happens in my career I could always say I have done this. I went up to him and said,“I am Tom” and he said “I am Tom” and then did it in a British accent. He would also do impressions of himself on set. He would say [adopts Woody from Toy Story voice]: “There’s a snake in my boot!” Tom Hanks quoting himself. It was
just insane.

Did you have similar vibes first meeting Robson Green?

One hundred percent. Robson Green is someone I have grown up with. When we met in the third round of the audition process, he came bounding towards me, “Hey mate, I’m Robson.” I said, “Of course you are. You are TV’s Robson Green.” Robson Green and TV go together hand-in-hand. So I was starstruck meeting him too. And now I can call him a friend and co-star.

Would you rather sing or fish with him?

We had a little sing-song on set. He is very good with the Eighties , which is before my time, but I’d join in on the odd Duran Duran song. I’d play this game. If you say a couple of words from an Eighties song, he starts singing the whole thing. He wouldn’t know I was doing it, but subliminally he would start singing.

So if you say ‘gold’ while talking to Robson he starts singing Spandau Ballet?

Exactly that. It is a wonderful skill he has. I asked whether we can go fishing together. But he hasn’t been with James yet, so I think it is only fair that he goes first. James might get put out if the new guy beats him to it. I don’t think that is fair. You have to earn that.

Grantchester returns to ITV on January 11 at 9pm