Preview – Father Brown: The Star of Jacob

Mark WIlliams as Father Brown

A mysterious stranger, a missing donkey, an outbreak of laryngitis in the church choir and a kidnapped baby threaten to spoil Kembleford’s Christmas festivities in Father Brown: The Star of Jacob.

Distinctly lacking in Christmas cheer, Canon Fox (Roger May) pays a visit to Father Brown (Mark Williams) and Mrs McCarthy (Sorcha Cusack) to announce that premier Catholic duke – the Duke of Frome (Ray Coulthard) – will be staying with Lady Felicia (Nancy Carroll) at Montague and attending Christmas Mass at St Mary’s. Unlike in previous years, this year the Bishop wants everything done by the book and Canon Fox will be there to make sure his wishes are carried out.

There will be ‘the full biblical line-up’ including wholesome children, a proper choir and even snow, he demands. Daunted but undeterred Father Brown and Mrs McCarthy set about their task, but when the donkey goes missing, laryngitis hits the choir and a filthy down-and-out (Dean Andrews) is found sleeping in the confessional box, it looks like Canon Fox’s best laid plans are going to be thwarted.

Over at Montague, Lady Felicia is delighted to welcome her cousin the Duke, his wife Diana (Zannah Hodson) and new baby David to the house, but less pleased to be reunited with the indomitable and caustic family nanny, Nanny Langton (Isla Blair).

The Duke is delighted with his new son, but Felicia notices that Diana isn’t her usual self, which Nanny Langton brusquely dismisses as a case of the “baby blues”. Later, Lady Felicia’s Yuletide Ball is in full swing when the Duke has a public falling out with black sheep cousin Basil Urquhart (Christos Lawton), after refusing to pay off his gambling debts, and Diana excuses herself with a headache. Matters go from bad to worse when a nursemaid discovers that baby David is missing from his cot beside a heavily sleeping Nanny, and is nowhere to be found.

Perpetual Scrooge Inspector Mallory (Jack Deam) is soon pressed into action and his suspicions are immediately aroused by the Duke’s valet George (Elliott Jordan) and his new wife Hannah (Maddy Hill). But Father Brown feels there is more to the situation than meets the eye and sets out to do some investigating of his own.

With Christmas morning looming the search is on to find the missing baby. Will Father Brown find the kidnapped child? Will Mrs McCarthy track down the missing donkey and a new soloist? And will Canon Fox’s wish for a traditional, biblical Christmas Mass be granted?

Father Brown: The Star of Jacob Friday 1.45pm on BBC One