Watching Father Brown

G.K. Chesterton’s Mysteries on Film and Television


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About the Book

This book examines adaptations of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories in film, radio and television. Part One covers adaptations prior to 2013, including portrayals by Alec Guinness, Kenneth More, and others, as well as German and Italian versions. Part Two focuses on the BBC series Father Brown, launched in 2013 with Mark Williams starring in the title role. It provides information about the series’ creation and production along with a helpful episode guide, and it analyzes critical and audience responses to the show.

About the Author(s)

Sandra K. Sagala is an independent researcher and historian living in Pennsylvania. She has previously written two biographies of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and co-authored a book about the 1970’s TV western Alias Smith and Jones.

Bibliographic Details

Sandra K. Sagala
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 225
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9266-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5010-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Part One: Father Brown in Literature and Dramatic Media 3
1. G.K. Chesterton and His Detective Priest 4
2. The Many Faces of Father Brown 19
Part Two: The BBC Production and Its Reception 35
3. The Newest Father Brown 36
4. The Episodes 54
5. Despite the Critics, Success! 168
A Final Word: A Mystery or Proselytizing? 179
Appendices 183
A: G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown Stories, Dates of First Publication, 1910–1936 183
B: Episodes with Josef Meinrad as Pater Brown, 1966–1972 185
C: Episodes with Renato Rascel as Padre Brown, 1970–1971 186
D: Episodes with Kenneth More as Father Brown, 1974 186
E: Episodes with Andrew Sachs as Father Brown, 1984–1986 187
F: Episodes with Ottfried Fischer as Pfarrer Braun, 2003–2014 187
G: Episodes with Mark Williams as Father Brown, 2013–2023 188
Chapter Notes 193
Bibliography 207
Index 215

Book Reviews & Awards

“This book is a fantastic resource for fans of Father Brown. …excellent…rich in background material, all well documented, and gives useful discussions of how Chesterton came to write the FB short stories as well as an historical survey of the many radio, film and TV adaptations of Chesterton’s work. The bulk of the book looks at the current BBC series and provides a wealth of information on every episode. Many of the FAQs that appear on this site, such as, ‘what was Father Brown’s first name’ or ‘what happened to Susie’ are answered here with correct information. I wish I had access to a resource like this when I was writing my own blog essay on the series. Congratulations Sandra Sagala!”— Pamela J Milne, Ph.D., professor emeritus, University of Windsor