Why Did James Norton Leave Grantchester?

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Why Did James Norton Leave Grantchester? 1
James Norton may have left Grantchester, but the series will continue on through (at least) season 8

Even though it's been a few years now, every new season of Grantchester brings a flurry of emails with the same question:

Why did James Norton Leave Grantchester?

Occasionally, they've been peppered with colourful expletives, but they're mostly just polite and curious. Though we don't know James Norton personally, we initially wondered the same thing, so we did a bit of research.

So, Why DID James Norton Leave Grantchester?

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Grantchester can be found on PBS Masterpiece

First off, don't read this if you haven't watched all the episodes from seasons 1-3. Some of the quotes contain spoilers.

Ultimately, it sounds like James Norton left Grantchester for two primary reasons: 

  • A feeling that his character's story had run its course, and
  • A desire to move on professionally and explore new roles and opportunities

In an interview with Radio Times, Norton said:

It was a combination of things [why I chose to leave]. The Amanda storyline tying up the way it did with her and Sidney breaking up and him choosing the church in the third series felt like a natural conclusion to Sidney’s story. It felt like it would be better to hand over the baton to someone else and give Grantchester a fresh injection of energy.

Apparently, Norton wanted to be killed off – but those of us who've watched his final season (Season 4) know producers didn't take his suggestion.

Who Replaced James Norton on Grantchester?

James Norton was replaced by Tom Brittney in Season 4. Brittney plays new chaplain Will Davenport, another young beefcake to play opposite Robson Green's “silver fox” detective. 

Prior to his lead role in Grantchester, Brittney did a few episodes on The Syndicate and Outlander, along with more substantial roles in The Five and UnREAL

Fun Facts About James Norton

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Want to know a little more about the man behind the vicar? A few James Norton fun facts…

1 | James Norton suffers from type 1 diabetes, as do his mum and younger sister. 


2 | His dad is an extra in pretty much everything he does. As he told What's On TV UK…

…this is a bit embarrassing: we’ve got a scene where there’s a big outdoor fete and not only is my dad coming, but my mum and my two aunts as well! They’ve been begging me the whole time, ‘Please can we?’ So my Aunt Bridget and Aunt Alison are going to be people visiting the fete.

3 | He's smart.

After graduating from Ampleforth College and working at a theatre in Scarborough, he read theology at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. There, he was a member of Cambridge's Marlowe Society theatre club. He also attended RADA for a time, but didn't graduate.

4 | He's a feminist.

Norton has been openly critical of the entertainment industry's treatment of women, and he's expressed excitement about an upcoming generation of female leaders in theatre.

5 | He's a National Trust member. 

So if all the other stuff isn't enough, he may be able to attract ladies with the promise of free parking at Stourhead and Fountains Abbey. 


Where Else Can You See James Norton, if Not Grantchester?

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McMafia streams on Sundance Now

There have been rumours that Norton might be up for the Bond role after Daniel Craig finishes his tenure, but since that remains unconfirmed (they haven't chosen anyone yet), let's take a look back at what you can watch him in NOW. 

Life in Squares – This miniseries dramatises the lives of the famed Bloomsbury group of artists and intellectuals. 

Happy Valley – Norton plays a very bad guy in this Sally Wainwright series about a middle-aged police officer in West Yorkshire. The best part? It's coming back for a third series in the not-too-distant future.

McMafia – McMafia follows Alex Godman, the British-raised son of a former Russian mafia member. Though he's got his life together, it all falls apart when he's inadvertently pulled into his family's old business.

The Trial of Christine Keeler – This miniseries dramatises the story of the Profumo Scandal that rocked the British government back in the 1960s. US premiere details are not yet known. 

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Rogue Agent

Rogue Agent – This film dramatises the true story of Robert Freegard, a conman who pretended to be an MI5 agent to get money and sex from the women who believed his lies.

War & Peace – James Norton stars alongside Lily James, ex-girlfriend Jessie Buckley, and Paul Dano in this retelling of the classic Tolstoy novel. 

Death Comes to Pemberley – Though not in a leading role, you can see one of Norton's earlier roles in this adaptation of the P.D. James continuation of Pride & Prejudice.

To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters – Norton appears as the Duke of Wellington in this television movie about the lives of the Bronte sisters. 

Curious about  more places to watch James Norton? We have a longer post on the topic here: Where to Watch James Norton

Grantchester Will Continue Without James Norton…

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Robson Green and Tom Brittney are preparing to film season 8 of Grantchester

One thing's for certain – Grantchester isn't quite the same without James Norton around anymore. It's great that everyone else is still around, though – we've certainly seen a few shows that had almost completely different casts by the end (Monarch of the Glen comes to mind). The tone may be different in many ways, but the mysteries and scenery continue.


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  1. I like the series. I’m a big Robson Green fan, so as long as he’s there, I’m there! Hated to see Norton leave, but Brittney is good.

  2. James and Robson had very apparent chemistry together that I don’t see with Tom. Al and Tom’s characters have very limited church work to do. Leonard’s storyline is riveting enough for me to keep watching but the show isn’t as must see as it was when James was there.

  3. I was afraid the whole story would collapse after James Norton left, even though, I could see that his character’s storyline had really ended. I was pleasantly surprised to find that from the first Tom Brittany episode, it all worked just like it did before. Tom has the same bad boy instincts that James had – delightfully so- and the rest of the cast is so strong. The scenery around the English villages, and the time in history all wrap it into a charming series.

  4. I think Tom Brittney is great! Slipped right in there very easily. Al Weaver has always been my favorite, I hope his character brings to light a very important subject. Love is Love!

  5. I think this is the most seamless transition between main characters. Tom Brittney is the perfect replacement, although I do miss James Norton. Not on season 6 yet because it is not included in Amazon Prime. Disappointing. A great series though.

  6. Just watched the first series 6. Robson Green is always good. Tom Brittney was good but Al Weaver was great! Bringing in all the main characters seemed to confuse the larger issue of Leonard’s relationship being discovered. I hope you don’t focus on the details of his relationship but how everyone supports him. I miss James Norton but l love the show and am looking forward to the rest of season 6.

  7. I still love Grandchester and the Leonard storyline has been so moving,Can’t wait to see what happens to him next

  8. I love Grandchester. I missed Hames Norton at first but Tom quickly became a favorite. Absolutely adore Robson Green.

  9. Yes Still love Grantchester. Loved, loved loved James Norton as Sidney but Tom Brittney is doing a grand job of filling James’s boots. hope the series goes on as long as, and is as popular as Call the Midwife. Love the Nostalgia.

  10. Love Grantchester and ALL of its characters. Enjoyed Will on Outlander and he does a great job on Grantchester!

  11. I really enjoyed Grantchester with James Norton, but I am also enjoying Tom Brittney as the new Vicar. I love all the characters, the actors and the writers who provide the story lines. So happy we have a new season to watch. It’s a great series and I hope it continues. British TV programs are simply THE BEST!

  12. I love Robson Green. I did like Sydney a lot. But I can watch without him. As long as they don’t change anyone except the Vicar.They can try new Vicars as many times as they want.

  13. It’s ghastly without James Norton. I suffered through Series 4 and 5, and that’s enough. The only thing that could lure me back would be a guest appearance by Sidney.

  14. I was also sorry that James Norton left the series and I did hear he might be tipped to be the next 007. However, Tom Brittany is also a great actor and I enjoy watching him. I hope he will continue in a series as the unfold. I would also like to find out if he and his Mum make up and form a great mother-son relationship. This 2nd husband has a son too so it would be nice “tit bit” if these two young gentlemen forge a relationship as “blended family members”.

  15. I love Grandchester. The stories are well done. I miss James Norton but I enjoy the series too much to give it up. I Love British tv so much

  16. i love Grandchester,but not so much without James Norton TRY TO FIND MAJOR ROLES WITH JAMES NORTON. BY THE WAY , I LOVE BRITISH TV

    • To be honest I preferred James Norton’s character to Tom Brittney’s but I still love the programme. Robson Green is one of the finest character actors we have and is superb. Tessa Peake-Jones & Kacey Ainsworth are excellent. Al Weaver’s portrayal of Leonard – particularly this season- has been brilliant.

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