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Why I had to stop watching Father Brown

SIR – I was pleased to see the article on the BBC’s Father Brown by Michael Davis (Arts essay, January 19). I was privileged to be the parish priest at Holy Spirit, Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, when the parish celebrated its centenary. The church was built by the original Father Brown (Mgr J O’Connor) and the EWTN Chesterton expert Dale Alquist was available to give us a talk on his hero. I shared with Mr Alquist my disappointment over the new Father Brown series. He made reference to it in his talk as not being accurate in any sense. I think we were a bit too negative because I have watched some of the programmes and found them entertaining. However, there are problems.

I first avoided them because they were liturgically inaccurate and because the time frame was wrong. I have to admit, though, that I was impressed by the compassion and orthodoxy of the main character (and the actor Mark Williams). How things have changed. I recently watched two episodes which are an insult not only to Chesterton and the Father Brown of the books, but to the Catholic Church too. In the case of murder, Fr Brown is quick to advise Confession and seeking God’s forgiveness. Where fornication and adultery are concerned, he is strangely silent. Here there is no invitation to repent, rather a benign refusal to trouble anyone.

I suspect this is a capitulation to the prevailing secular morality of today, and with a view to maintaining an audience which might otherwise switch off. In presenting such themes the writers may have believed that most Catholics will simply let the lack of orthodox morality pass. Sadly, I think they are right, but here is one viewer they have lost.

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