James Runcie: Grantchester Mysteries now Grantchester TV show (and we're hooked)
The Grantchester Mysteries, ITV, is our current favourite of the winter TV period dramas. The writer behind the show and series of novels, James Runcie, shares his cultural life
Runcie, the son of the former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, is a filmmaker, novelist, theatre director, journalist and Head of Literature and Spoken Word at the Southbank Centre in London. He published the first of his Grantchester Mysteries, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, in 2012 and has promised readers there will be six in the series. Runcie will be discussing Grantchester itself and the dramatisation of the first in his Grantchester Mysteries series with ITV scriptwriter Daisy Coulam at the Grantchester Christmas Special, Bloomsbury Institute, 3rd December 2014 (click on the link to book).
James Runcie: My London cultural life (plus unique places in London and some rather posh places in London we're adding to our list of must-sees and dos)
1. Old favourite?
When it all gets too much I do like a wander round the Wallace Collection, before a bit of a shop at Margaret Howell in Wigmore Street. I then walk over for a browse in Daunt’s Bookshop in Marylebone High Street, look in at Agnes B, and sit down for a drink and a bit of tapas at The Providores in Marylebone High St) ideally with my oldest friend, the pianist Joanna MacGregor – if I can get her out of her teaching at the Royal Academy of Music.
2. New discovery?
I recently bought a wonderfully witty and thoughtful street map of London from a website called Dorothy made up from the titles of 600 books from the history of English literature.
3. Best-loved walk or view?
The view from Primrose Hill. I like height and distance so the view from Greenwich Park is equally good, I think; for a more macro-seeming view, I like the view from the top of New Zealand House.
4. Greatest meal you’ve ever had in London?
That would be at Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus: roasted scallops with chicken wings, Goosnargh duck with honey, lavender, fennel, grelot onions and baby carrot salad; chocolate sphere milk ice cream and honeycomb. It was not, I am afraid, what you might call cheap.
5. Favourite local restaurant, bar or pub?
For straightforward friendliness and wonderful service I love Limonia in Regents Park Road: when I want to pretend I am in Venice, then Polpo in Maiden Lane. My favourite pub is The Spread Eagle in Camden Parkway, and I also like the restaurant Market in Camden Parkway that has a very good and reasonably priced set lunch.
6. Most memorable aesthetic experience?
Recently, Alice Oswald reading Tithonus – 46 minutes in the Life of Dawn in the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre; before then, Joanna MacGregor playing The Goldberg Variations in the Wigmore Hall.
7. Hidden gem?
I am very fond of St. Peter’s Italian church in the Clerkenwell Road. You are stepping into Italy.
8. Best place to have an affair?
I don’t know how I can possibly know the answer to that.
9. Best place to propose?
On the top of St.Paul’s Cathedral.
10. Best for children?
My number one will always be the Natural History Museum but I do like the Unicorn Theatre. The Lego show, The Art of the Brick at the Old Truman Brewery looks good. And soon you will be able to book for our amazing children’s festival Imagine which is at the Southbank Centre in February.
11. Where will you be seen this month?
At the Southbank Centre (interviewing Marilynne Robinson); at the Anselm Keifer show at the Royal Academy and the Patrick Hughes show New Reverspectives at Flowers Gallery in Kingsland Road; watching Paul Pawlikowski’s film Ida; and seeing Harriet Walter in Henry IV at the Donmar
12. Who is your current cultural crush?
The Turkish novelist Elif Shafak. I am not alone.
Selfridges or Harvey Nicks?
King’s Road or Shoreditch High Street?
King’s Road. I am too old and don’t have the stubble to be a hipster.
Royal Opera House or Battersea Arts Centre?
Oh God, Royal Opera House, I’m afraid.
Artisan cocktail or a pint of bitter?
What do you think after all this? Artisan cocktail, of course.
Streetfood or fine dining?
Blimey, fine dining.
Shard or St Paul’s?
St.Paul’s, God help us (literally)