An evening with James Runcie and Sidney Chambers
James Runcie promised to return to Woodbridge when he was 'more famous'. Last year he visited at the launch of the third volume of his Sidney Chambers books in May, just as filming was taking place in Cambridge for the tv series which was to air in the autumn.
The tv drama has certainly brought Sidney Chambers and James Runcie to the attention of many more people. It has viewing figures of six million and was the most popular new drama for ITV, although they considered it a success but not a hit, according to James.
So the hugely entertaining and charming author visited us again to introduce us to his new book, the fourth in 'The Grantchester Mysteries', called 'Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins'.
Now Sidney is married with a baby, and newly promoted, and living in Ely! But he still has time to solve crimes and mysteries.
To get us in the mood for Grantchester, I invited local musicians Jenny Wren and Her Borrowed Wings to perform on stage as the audience gathered and at the conclusion of the evening when James was signing books. They sang and played without amplification, giving a jazz and blues feel with their original music. After tonight's performance they have a European tour, but I was introduced to them when they busked outside Browsers Bookshop at Christmas.
The stage at the Riverside Cinema is a big space to fill for an author and his interviewer, so I approached our lovely independent department store, Barretts and asked if they would lend me some furniture. They were only too pleased to help and I had my pick of the shop floor selecting two armchairs, a bookcase and coffee table for my attempt at reproducing the home of Sidney Chambers.
Acknowledging the popularity of the tv series, we arranged to show clips on the big screen at the Riverside Cinema. James was able to give us behind-the-scenes gossip and also to highlight the areas when the tv producers decided to deviate from James's text. There were also a few errors which James was anxious to correct but was sometimes overruled. People would never have said 'Christ on a bike' in 1950, he told us.
You can watch a short clip of my conversation with James below.