In the Grantchester season six premiere, you’d be forgiven for half-expecting Frances “Baby” Houseman to rush into frame, dressed in pink and demanding Reverend Will Davenport to whisk her into the Mambo.
Set at a fictional holiday camp, the episode is affectionately billed by its producers as “Grantchester meets Dirty Dancing”, and homages to the film are everywhere, to the point where you may confuse the rattle of Will’s beloved motorcycle with the intro to Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes”.
The film’s influence is stamped all over the plot, too, as Will finds himself in Baby’s corner (ahem), getting involved in a short-lived holiday romance (complete with moonlit swims) with a member of the entertainment staff, Sunny West (a made-up name as it turns out, much like ‘Baby’).
Adapted from the fictional Grantchester Mysteries novels by James Runcie, the series is set in the real-life titular village, where Grantchester is filmed. However, the season premiere takes place entirely on location at the fictional Merries Holiday Camp.
Among the guests are our unlikely crime-solving duo, motorcycle-riding vicar Will Davenport and local detective DI Geordie Keating (played by Tom Brittney and Robson Green, respectively, in the Grantchester cast).
They’re each accompanied by their respective households, including Will’s landlady, Mrs Chapman (“Mrs C”), and the sweet-natured closeted curate, Leonard Finch (played by Al Weaver).
As viewers will remember, the end of season five saw Will break his self-imposed vow of celibacy (with a nun, no less), and he arrives at Merries with a new-found spring in his step.
He’s also keenly aware of his single status – there’s a sequence where the Keatings, the Chapmans, and Leonard and his secret boyfriend Daniel all claim to have been enjoying a ‘snooze’ in their respective cabins.
However, Will’s pursuit of romance – and Geordie’s much-needed break from coppering – are interrupted when, of course, a body is found: Roy Reeves, the seemingly happy-go-lucky camp owner, has died under suspicious circumstances. Has he been poisoned? And was he the intended target?
The ensuing investigation doesn’t have much bearing on the rest of the series – but the same can’t be said for a series of incriminating photographs, featuring Leonard and boyfriend Daniel.
Over the course of the episode, Leonard rejects the unexpected advances of another member of the Merries entertainment staff, Brian. Following an incident where Brian accidentally discovers Leonard in bed with Daniel (he had been hoping to catch the former alone), he reports Leonard to Will.
It’s clear to both the viewer and to Brian that Will isn’t going to do anything with the information he’s been given, so a jealous Brian secretly snaps photos of Leonard tenderly wiping ice cream from Daniel’s mouth.
At the end of the episode, we see Brian in his dark room, developing the photos. But where will he send the images? Will he take them to the police?
What will happen to Leonard Finch in Grantchester season six?
In 1958, when Grantchester season six is set, ‘‘any acts of gross indecency with male persons” were still against the law, under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885.
In the UK, it wasn’t until 1967 that the Sexual Offences Act decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men, both over the age of 21.
According to producer Richard Cookson, the events at Merries holiday camp – and specifically the looming scandal for Leonard – impacts the rest of the season.
He said: “Out of this picture-perfect 50s summer holiday spins the terrible thread that weaves through the whole series: Leonard’s homosexuality is placed on trial – literally – when his private life is exposed.
“It rocks Geordie’s faith in the law; it puts Will in the impossible position where telling the truth will doom his friend; it challenges Mrs C’s love for her boy; and it mobilises Cathy’s burgeoning activism.”
Grantchester will continue on ITV on Fridays. You can order the Grantchester Mysteries books from Amazon. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide, or visit our Drama hub for more news and features.