Tom Brittney on His 'Grantchester' Farewell: 'I Couldn't Get Through It Because I Kept Crying' (2024)

Tom Brittney on His 'Grantchester' Farewell: 'I Couldn't Get Through It Because I Kept Crying' (1)
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[Warning: The below contains spoilers for Grantchester Season 9, Episode 2.]

The very last scene that Tom Brittney shot on location in the village of Grantchester was the final one of the June 23 episode of Grantchester. In it, his character, departing vicar Will Davenport, said a heartfelt goodbye to the man who had become his best friend and sleuthing partner on the long-running Masterpiece mystery series, police detective Geordie Keating (Robson Green).

Will found Geordie strolling through lush Grantchester Meadows, a place the pair had often spent time walking and talking. Now, they hugged and said “I love you” before Will spoke his final words, “Geordie, I hope I made you proud.” His companion’s reply was filled with affection: “Every day, son. Every day.” With that, the two men walked off in opposite directions, and Grantchester bid farewell to Vicar No. 2.

It wasn’t an easy scene for Brittney, who joined the well-loved PBS show in 2019 and eventually added an executive producer credit to his name, to get through, especially since he and Green had become close friends offscreen as well as on. “We were both having to console each other constantly because it was just so emotional,” Brittney remembers, still moved discussing it almost a year after filming.

But that was nothing compared to the scene he shot a week later, his last one ever as Will. It was a straightforward segment in Geordie’s office about the episode’s investigation, but it became a poignant moment. “As we got to the last take, it all hit me, and I couldn’t get through it because I kept crying,” Brittney recalls. “I knew on that last take I’m never going to speak as Will Davenport again, and it all came crashing like a tidal wave.”

Tom Brittney on His 'Grantchester' Farewell: 'I Couldn't Get Through It Because I Kept Crying' (2)

Tom Brittney and Charlotte Ritchie in the Season 7 finale (Kudos Film and TV Ltd)

The actor’s departure mirrors Will’s in some ways. With the support of his wife Bonnie (Charlotte Ritchie), Will made a bold move to leave the cozy but deadly Cambridge suburb of Grantchester and challenge himself in the northern city of Newcastle, where he felt he could help the needy and make a greater impact on the lives of his parishioners. “He is by his nature a boat rocker, so he needs a new boat to rock,” says Brittney, who also was ready for new career challenges.

If he’d been Grantchester’s showrunner, however, Will’s fate wouldn’t have been so sunny. “I wanted him to die,” the actor reveals. But after the vicar survived a life-threatening stab wound and overcame a pill addiction in previous seasons, creator and executive producer Daisy Coulam had a different exit in mind, and Brittney agreed it was the right one: “It’s nicer to have an idea of what domestic bliss would be like for Will.”

And the Will who left at the end of the second episode of 1961-set Season 9, in a family car with his wife and two children, is quite a contrast to the zealous young reverend who vroomed into Grantchester alone on his motorcycle in Season 4. Likewise, the show has also changed the way Brittney, now 33, views his career. Previously, he’d appeared on series such as Outlander and UnReal. Now he’s added directing to his résumé and has a role in the upcoming Netflix film Back in Action.

Grantchester “allowed me to mature as an actor and as a person,” he praises. “It’s also opened different doors. Now I’m taking directing and producing seriously.”


'Grantchester' Star Tom Brittney Explains Will's Season 9 Exit: 'He Needed Some Peace'

And continuing to work with his former costar, a British TV vet. Brittney is directing a short film that Green is an executive producer on, and the friendship they’ve forged is something that Brittney still marvels at. “We text pretty much every day,” he says. “Never in a million years when I was a kid watching him on TV did I think that I would one day call him my best friend.”

Because Grantchester shot its first three episodes at the same time, Brittney got to know his replacement, Rishi Nair, who makes his debut in the next installment as new vicar Alphy Kottaram. The torch passing reminded Brittney of his first days taking over for original star James Norton. He reports that he and Rishi “got to sit down and have a drink, and he would ask for tips and stuff like that. I just said — similar to what James said to me — have fun, you’re part of the family now, and put your vest stock on before your trousers. It makes it easier to get on.”

And while Will could conceivably pop down for a visit, Brittney is firm that’s not going to happen. “It’s Rishi’s show now,” he says. “I have to know this is the end and make my peace.”

Grantchester, Sundays, 9/8c, PBS (check local listings at

Tom Brittney on His 'Grantchester' Farewell: 'I Couldn't Get Through It Because I Kept Crying' (2024)
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