Father Brown is back. The daytime television update of G.K.Chesterton's stories featuring the little priest who is one of fiction's great detectives has returned for a second series. The first series provoked very mixed reactions. When I wrote this blog post about the show, it attracted a great many comments and also some interesting emails. In fact I received one only the other day from the widow of someone who was involved with the 70s version of the Father Brown stories starring Kenneth More.
The fact that a blog post about a relatively obscure show can prompt such discussion, some of it long after the post originally appeared, never ceases to fascinate me. In fact, that particular post is, to this day, one of the ten most visited posts to have appeared on this blog; quite notable, given that there have been about one thousand eight hundred of them.
Mark Williams returned as a Fifties version of Father Brown in an episode, The Ghost in the Machine, which was not based on one of the original stories. The mixture is very much as before - picturesque settings, multiple suspects and a sort of winsome low-budget charm. The result will again set purists' teeth on edge, but I continue to find this show a sort of guilty pleasure.
I don't care for the term 'cosy' when it is applied to detective fiction. It's often applied to books that are far from cosy. But even I must admit that there is a cosinesss about Father Brown which is part of its appeal. A good watch if you are suffering from poor health, I imagine. Undemanding but light, entertaining fare. The fact that a second series has been commissioned suggests to me that plenty of viewers enjoy it. We're not talking cutting edge crime fiction here, and the connection with Chesterton's original is (and I regret this) remote. But there's room in the world for shows like Father Brown, as well as for more ambitious projects such as Broadchurch.