When season two of Fleabag hit Amazon Prime to great acclaim in May, all anyone on Twitter could talk about was “the hot priest.” Played by Andrew Scott, Fleabag’s hot priest brings sexual tension, spiritual insight, and emotional availability in spades. Hot Priest Discourse reached terminal velocity when TV critics swarmed the phenomenon with a slew of sharp thinkpieces. But the real hot priest has been hiding in plain sight all along—in fact, his name is Reverend Sidney Chambers, and you can find him in the unlikeliest of places on PBS’ Grantchester.
Let me tell you a bit about Reverend Sidney Chambers. Played by the exceedingly symmetrical James Norton (who’s among the candidates rumored to take over as James Bond), Sidney is a handsome, jazz-loving, scotch-drinking Anglican priest in midcentury England, where he solves crimes in his pastoral parish alongside the gruff, overworked Inspector Geordie Keating. Sidney is compassionate, self-sacrificing to a fault, and above all, an excellent listener, which drives witnesses and criminals to confide in him with a confessional booth-style intimacy that local detectives can’t inspire. He’s also a downright hero, pulling parishioners from burning buildings and hitchhiking across England to recover his housekeeper’s money from the man who robbed her. Let’s call him the Hottest Priest.
Like any good dreamboat, the Hottest Priest has demons. During World War II, he served as an officer in the Scots Guard, where he witnessed horrors that still send him reeling to his armchair to brood over a tumbler of scotch and a jazz record played on full blast. The Hottest Priest also has a complicated romantic life, pining away for his childhood best friend Amanda, who entered a loveless marriage with a cad when the Hottest Priest gave his life over to God. It’s all just delicious. What can I say? I like my heroes a bit tortured.
Based on a series of cozy mysteries by James Runcie, Grantchester is an old-fashioned whodunit—one where shots of mutilated bodies on morgue tables are scarce, but shots of our hero frolicking naked in bucolic swimming holes are abundant (and oh, what glorious shots they are!). The show makes sumptuous use of its midcentury setting, dispatching the Hottest Priest to smoky jazz clubs, grand universities, and cocktail parties teeming with well-coiffed women in taffeta dresses. It’s also deeply invested in exploring the pain of progress in the wake of World War II, as in the story of the closeted gay curate the Hottest Priest takes under his wing.
This summer on Masterpiece, Grantchester is back for a fourth season, albeit an atypical one. As he ventures into film and spends more time stateside, Norton felt it was time to leave the show, though what’s in store for his film career, he won’t say (Bond? A girl can dream). The Hottest Priest will pass the torch to a new vicar, the also hot, motorcycle-riding Reverend Will Davenport (played by Outlander alum Tom Brittney), who shares the Hottest Priest’s passion for unconventional priestly conduct and square jawlines. Norton pulled for Sidney to leave the show in a body bag as the victim of a gruesome murder, but much to his disappointment, the Hottest Priest will leave on his own two feet. That’s a-okay with me, as it means he can always come back for a special episode.
Would Andrew Scott’s Hot Priest pull someone from a burning building? The guy is afraid of foxes—I don’t think he has the stones for the Hottest Priest’s level of heroism, much less the jawline. Your move, Fleabag.