Grantchester was being filmed on King’s Parade and The Tab spoke to James Norton
He told us about his first night getting drunk in Cambridge
Chaos descended upon Cambridge today, as hundreds of loved-up middle aged women and confused tourists clutching selfie-sticks found a very curious King’s Parade.
From 6am until 4pm, King’s Parade was closed off, as camera crews arrived to film the second series of Grantchester.
The drama, based on the work of James Runcie and set in the 1950s, explores the crime-solving capers of dishy vicar James Norton.
Having achieved popular success with its debut last year, all the stops were being pulled out to ensure that this series, set to screen in early 2016, was even bigger and better.
The Tab visited the scene, wrestling through crowds of people who wanted to have their five seconds of fame, to try and speak to some of the cast.
It was intense, with large groups of extras soaking up their moment in the limelight as cast members were filmed cycling through a recreation of Cambridge in the fifties.
At first, charming my way onto the set failed considerably, I got a stock response of ‘maybe next time, dahling’ from gruff tech men who failed to succumb to the batting of eyelids.
Undeterred, I snuck around the back of the crew and under some wires into the set.
The cast and crew had their work cut out. I spoke to several members of the production team, one who grumpily acknowledged that getting the Cambridge Council to agree to any of this was ‘very difficult’. Another spoke of a schedule of five days, then six days, then a repeat, of working from dawn until dusk.
Extras spoke fondly of a close crew and their delight at being invited back for the second series.
Finally we got a chance to speak to Grantchester lead actor James Norton. He spoke about his time filming in Cambridge, and his personal connection to the city, having studied Theology at Fitwilliam:
How does it feel being back in Cambridge?
You have such a fondness and special time for the place but then you leave and suddenly it’s not yours anymore. [Interrupted at this point by a crazed lady pointing out historical inaccuracies in his character’s bicycle.] When you come back after leaving, you sort of feel like it has been taken away from you by someone else.
How has it been different?
As a student, you only have a certain level of access to the place, whereas now, I have a different relationship.
They trust us more, and whilst we are quite destructive, we are generally quite a good thing for the city. As an actor you get behind the red tape. It reminds me of being here as a fresher on King’s Parade, when the magnificence of it all hits you.
What drew you to the role?
The series is a gorgeous; the writer uses this tone that treads this beautiful line, nice provocative writing, yet warm and escapist television. I feel like there is an affection for the characters. It’s more of a why-dunit rather than who-dunit.
What kind of memories do you have from your time in Cambridge?
I remember May Week, sitting on the backs, watching the sunrise, and just as it peaks, a sudden change coming over us all and us all jumping into the Cam.
What was the worst thing to happen during the time of your degree?
On my first night in Cambridge my grandmother gave me my great Uncle’s new Amsterdam bike. I was so excited to be here that I accidentally left my room key in my bike lock. After a night in Cocos at 3am, I was so drunk, I was 18 and so fresh-faced, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and my room key and my bike were gone.
So for my first night, I called my mum and I cried. Some bastard has my great-uncle’s bike.