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Set in England during the early 1950s, Father Brown is the priest at St Mary's Catholic Church in the fictional village of Kembleford, located in the Cotswolds. A recurring story element is that Britain is still struggling with the aftermath of World War II during this time, and the country still applies the death penalty. An empathetic man of keen intelligence, Father Brown solves murder cases when members of his parish are involved, when circumstances are strange enough to gain his interest, or when he's directly asked for help. During his investigations, he occasionally neglects his more mundane parish duties. Father Brown is often helped by the parish secretary, Bridgette McCarthy, and his housekeeper, Susie Jasinski. He is also sometimes aided by socialite Felicia Montague; her driver, Sid (a former criminal); and her niece, Bunty.
Father Brown's interest in local cases and his habit of offering advice and pointing out clues often annoys the local police inspector. While Father Brown himself holds no animosity towards the police, he often embarrasses them when his investigations reveal they drew the wrong conclusions regarding a murder or arrested the wrong suspect.
During World War I, Father Brown served in the military. His experiences as a veteran, along with his vocation as a priest, give him great insight into human nature as well as a desire to offer forgiveness and redemption, wishing to serve his concept of justice rather than strictly following the letter of the law and condemning the guilty. Father Brown is obedient to the Seal of confession in the Catholic Church. When confronting killers, he sometimes offers to hear their explanations and confessions without judgment. While he then urges them to admit their crimes to the authorities and accept responsibility, he also promises he won't reveal their actions or prevent their escape if they choose otherwise.
Father Brown - Mark Williams (2013-present): a slightly crumpled, shambolic, and mild-mannered Roman Catholic priest who, by appearance, is easily forgotten. His apparent innocence belies a playful wit and a razor-sharp intellect. His greatest strength, both as a priest and as a detective of crime, is his love and understanding of other people. He's not there to judge but to save souls. He is also a World War I veteran who served in the Gloucestershire Regiment.
Mrs. Bridgette McCarthy née Maguire - Sorcha Cusack (2013-present): the Irish parish secretary at St Mary's. She checks the facts for Father Brown, acts as his confidante on official Church business and everything else, is steadfastly loyal to Father Brown, and defends him from the ire of the congregation; she also makes sure he eats. She has a tendency to brag about her award-winning strawberry scones. Mrs. McCarthy is a frequent gossip - though claims she is not - and shares a love/hate relationship with Lady Felicia, although both women eventually admit to being close friends. She is married but leaves her husband after he returns from having lived with another woman following the war.
Felicia, Lady Montague née Windermere - Nancy Carroll (2013-2016 as a lead character): a bored socialite and Countess, apparently[weasel words] from an old recusant family, with a roving eye when her husband, Monty, is away. She is a staunch supporter of Father Brown and frequent nemesis of Mrs. McCarthy, despite grudging respect between the women. She left at the start of series 5 after her husband was appointed Governor of Northern Rhodesia, but made a guest appearance in series 6, The Face of the Enemy, in series 7 in two episodes (The Great Train Robbery and The Honourable Thief), and in series 8, The Celestial Choir.
Sidney "Sid" Carter - Alex Price (2013-2016 as a lead character): An artful dodger, Sid is an occasional black marketeer, part-time crook and informant who becomes Lady Felicia's chauffeur. Father Brown makes him the church handyman while trying to keep him on the straight and narrow. He has a unique talent for being able to talk his way into any situation in order to help Father Brown search for the truth. During his time in Kembleford, he manages to gain the trust and respect of both Father Brown and Mrs. McCarthy, who come to value him as a close friend. He is also known to share a close bond with The Honourable Penelope "Bunty" Windermere. Father Brown often relies on Sid's skills and links to the criminal underworld of Kembleford to help him solve a case. Originally a regular character, he often makes guest appearances notably in series 5, The Sins of Others, 2016 Christmas Special, The Tree of Truth, series 6, The Face of the Enemy and series 8, The River Corrupted.
Zuzanna "Susie" Jasinski - Kasia Koleczek (2013): Father Brown's part-time housekeeper, who lives in a nearby post-war Polish resettlement camp. Her true first name was revealed in the episode The Eye of Apollo.
The Honourable Penelope "Bunty" Windermere - Emer Kenny (2017-present): the wayward niece of Lady Felicia (the daughter of her brother Viscount Windermere) seeking refuge after being photographed leaving a sleazy nightclub with a married man and cited in divorce proceedings. She has had to adapt to life in Kembleford and has become a close friend of both Father Brown and Mrs McCarthy, who she often refers to as simply 'Mrs. M'. It becomes apparent throughout the series that both women share a mutual respect for one another despite often being at odds with each other.
Inspector Valentine - Hugo Speer (2013-2014): head of the local police force who finds himself constantly torn between secret admiration for Father Brown and deep frustration with him. He would like to collaborate but has been burnt once too often by Brown's unorthodox moral code. Nevertheless, he comes to respect his methods and even admits when he is promoted to Detective Chief Inspector and moved to London that he might miss Father Brown. Valentine returns in the final episode of series 8, The Tower of Lost Souls
Inspector Sullivan - Tom Chambers (2014-2015): replaced Inspector Valentine at the start of the second series. Sullivan too is exasperated by Father Brown's meddling but is eventually won over. He made a guest appearance as a Special Branch officer in series 7, The Sacrifice of Tantalus under the alias of Inspector Truman. He also appears in the final episode of series 8, The Tower of Lost Souls
Inspector Mallory - Jack Deam (2016-present): replaces Inspector Sullivan. Like his predecessors, he is often exasperated by Father Brown, whom he sarcastically refers to as "Padre". However, he is a far more open-minded, and occasionally resourceful, detective, and chases after leads with great enthusiasm, even when they lead him to the wrong conclusion.
Sergeant Albright - Keith Osborn (2013-2014): played dogsbody to Inspectors Valentine and Sullivan.
Sergeant Goodfellow - John Burton (2014-present): continued playing the dogsbody for the Inspector with increasing involvement. Credited in the opening beginning in series 5.
M. Hercule Flambeau - John Light (2013-present): nemesis of Father Brown; jewel and art thief, seems to be without conscience. He and Father Brown have encountered each other at least once in every series; in series four he reveals he has a daughter, Marianne Delacroix, whom he had never met.
Bishop Talbot - Malcolm Storry (2013-2015): he appeared in three episodes. Talbot is Father Brown's superior and doesn't like his sleuthing, but respects him for solving the mysteries. In The Daughter of Autolycus, his death was mentioned. He is succeeded by Bishop Reynard (Michael Pennington).
Harold "Blind 'Arry" Slow - Alan Williams (2017-present): he appeared in four episodes. 'Arry is the rag and bone man for Kembleford and also a drunk. In The Darkest Noon he mentioned that he got the name "Blind 'Arry" after being gassed in World War I and he also mentions he was a Sapper.
Professor Hilary Ambrose - James Laurenson (2014-present): he has appeared in two episodes. Ambrose is a theological scholar and friend of Father Brown.
Canon Damien Fox - Roger May (2016-present): he appeared in two episodes. Fox is part of the Diocese and reports to Bishop Reynard.
Katherine Corven - Kate O'Flynn (2017-2018): she appeared in two episodes. In The Eagle and the Daw, she was in prison for murdering her husband. Father Brown had helped to convict her and was awaiting her execution. In The Jackdaw's Revenge, she was cleared of the murder of her husband when someone else confessed: later in the episode she died from a gunshot.
Daniel Whittaker - Daniel Flynn (2015-present): he appeared in two episodes. Whittaker is a ruthless MI5 agent who blackmails Lady Felicia. In The Man in the Shadows, he had Sid arrested on false charges after he entered an MI5 room. In The Face of the Enemy, he compelled Lady Felicia to steal (by substitution) a roll of film from one of her lovers, an alleged Soviet spy, and had her arrested on false charges. Father Brown persuaded him to let her go.
Marianne Delacroix - Gina Bramhill (2016-present). Flambeau's daughter is equally adept at theft. Two episodes.
(Series One cast) Nancy Carroll, Sorcha Cusack, Mark Williams, Hugo Speer, Kasia Koleczek, and Alex Price
BBC Daytime wanted a home-grown detective series for the weekday afternoons on BBC One. Original ideas from writers were pitched, but the BBC wanted something that was less risky and already well known. Father Brown had not been filmed for British television since the 1970s with Kenneth More. Executive Producer John Yorke came up with the idea after hearing a radio documentary about G. K. Chesterton presented by Ann Widdecombe.
Writers were given the choice of adapting an existing story or coming up with an original idea. The Chesterton stories were set all over the world and at different times. Although half of the episodes in the first series were loosely based on the Chesterton stories, a decision was made to restrict the programme's location and date.
The Cotswolds was chosen because it had few modern buildings and was close to the production base in Birmingham. The 1950s were chosen because the detective could solve puzzles using his mind and knowledge of human nature instead of relying on modern technology. Despite this, the script sometimes includes anachronistic language (e.g., "secure the crime scene", "mojo"). The lead writers, Rachel Flowerday and Tahsin Guner, created the supporting characters. Other writers contributed stand-alone scripts that were not part of a story arc.
The series is a BBC StudiosBirmingham Drama Village production and filming for the first series of ten episodes of Father Brown began in the Cotswolds in summer 2012. The BBC renewed Father Brown for a second series of ten episodes in 2013. A third series of 15 episodes was commissioned in 2014. A fourth series of ten episodes was commissioned in 2015. Actor John Burton, who plays Sgt. Goodfellow, confirmed an eighth series on his Twitter account in April 2019.
Filming for the second series included the Warwickshire village of Ilmington. Chastleton House and Berkeley Castle were used to portray Pryde Castle in the episode broadcast on 8 January 2014.Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire provided the location for the final resting place of the famed rosary in the episode Mysteries of the Rosary airing 10 January 2014. The gardens at Snowshill Manor featured in the same episode. The Time Machine episode, in series 3, was based around the Warwickshire estate of Alscot Park.
BBC Worldwide has sold Father Brown to 232 territories, including, Australia (ABC), Belgium (VRT), the Netherlands (KRO-NCRV), BBC First (Dutch TV channel), Spain (Paramount Network), Finland (YLE), Sweden (TV8), Denmark (DR), Norway (NRK), Estonia (ETV), Iceland (RÚV), Italy (Paramount Network), Croatia (HRT), and Brazil (TV Cultura). In the United States, Father Brown has been sold to 40 public television stations with a reach of 30% of all U.S. television households. The first four series were added to the Netflix streaming service on 31 March 2017. Series five and six were added later in 2019.
In January 2020, it was announced that production had begun for a ten-episode series of The Sister Boniface Mysteries for BritBox, the streaming service. Lorna Watson returns as Sister Boniface. She played the character in 2013 in the Father Brown episode, The Bride of Christ. It was confirmed this series would air in early 2022, with the ninth series of the parent.
The Region 2/Region B UK releases are published by Dazzler Media.
Series 1 released in March 2014
Series 2 released in June 2014
Series 3 released in March 2015
Series 4 released in March 2016
Series 5 released in February 2017
Series 6 released in February 2018
Series 7 released in February 2019
Series 8 released in March 2020
The series has also been released on DVD (but not Blu-ray) in the U.S., Australia, the Netherlands, and Germany.
Since 2019, the series has been prominently featured on the Britbox streaming service in the United States.
^"BBC's Father Brown rides again for third series". BBC Media Centre (Press release). BBC. 22 January 2014. Archived from the original on 25 January 2014. Retrieved 2014. The hugely successful crime drama Father Brown, based on the stories by GK Chesterton, has been recommissioned for a third series by BBC One Daytime in collaboration with BBC Worldwide.
^"Father Brown - Series 4". BBC Frequently Asked Questions. Archived from the original on 1 January 2016. Retrieved 2015. There will be a fourth series with your favourite crime-solving Roman Catholic priest.