Those who enjoyed the first two Father Brown series must be delighted that the third — with 15 instead of ten episodes — is now airing on BBC1.

Although it’s great to see it once again, one year on, I still have mixed thoughts.

The acting is superb and Mark Williams plays the lead brilliantly. The stories, by and large, are very good and still take place in 1953. G K Chesterton wrote his Father Brown stories in the 1920s; the television series either loosely adapts these or airs original scripts in postwar England.

The show’s creators chose a rural setting to better capture the 1950s. The programme is faithful to the era in the settings and clothes. The nostalgia it evokes is part of its appeal.

Italian-Roman chasuble However, although Father Brown has a Jesuit as an advisor, the chasuble that Mark Williams wears did not appear until Vatican II in the early 1960s. What Catholic priests wore in 1953 and for the rest of the decade is called a Roman chasuble, popularly known as a fiddleback, as seen on the left, courtesy of Traditional Ecclesiastical Tailoring.

Another quibble is that the modern rite of the Mass is mistakenly used in episode 6 of the new series. ‘The Upcott Fraternity’ has a brief scene of the seminarians at Mass. Surely, it would not have taken the actors much time to learn a line or two of ecclesiastical Latin.

Surely the Jesuit advisor could have helped on these two points; perhaps the show’s creators did not ask him.

Furthermore, the series has a Midsomer Murders feel to it; all the deaths take place in the general vicinity.  One wonders how many more people can die.

Finally, whilst the programme is generally acceptable for children to see, the third series has two episodes thus far which have content perhaps better suited to mature audiences. ‘The Upcott Fraternity’ and ‘The Lair of the Libertines’ will certainly provoke some uncomfortable questions from little ones.

The latter episode lives up to its name. The men and women at an exclusive hotel tell Father Brown they wish to find happiness through pleasure. One man says that he is looking for happiness all the time and never finds it. Father Brown replies that if a person seeks happiness he will never find it. True happiness comes to us but occasionally and is ephemeral.

American and South American viewers will no doubt be able to see the latest series on PBS and the Film & Arts channel later this year.

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