of FATHER BROWN playing his regular character 'Sgt Daniel Goodfellow' - BBC IPlayer
Q&A with John Burton (Sergeant Goodfellow)
Sergeant Goodfellow is a widely adored character, isn’t he?
Yes, he is a really popular character. I hear that a lot. I think he's just a genuine man. He's not got any bad side to him. He is just decent, honest, loyal, trustworthy, all those credentials that you'd want in a police officer. And you have to remember that he's grown up in this village and married into the village. He is one of Father Brown’s parishioners. He's probably joined the police because his dad was in the force. It's that sort of vibe I get from him. I think people buy into that nice, salt of the earth type of character. So I think that's probably why he is so widely liked. I do get ever such a lot of feedback about the character from social media. When that happens, you go, “Wow!” It just amazes me.
What you enjoy most about the job?
I love it when it’s just the five main regular characters in a scene together. Yesterday, we got to do one of those scenes, which is really rare, and everyone was talking about it. When we're all in a scene together, we are just like kids at school. People are laughing and joking. It's just great fun. It’s a really good mix of personalities, and we all spark off each other. And that's what happens. You can just tell that the energy is there within the scene.
Why is Father Brown such a big hit all over the world?
It's a number of things. It’s because of the storytelling definitely, but viewers also adore all the other elements that come into the programme. That's everything from the guest artists and the writing and the hair and makeup to the settings and the locations. It all just comes together. And you get these wonderful episodes that people simply love.
What’s it like working with Mark?
It’s terrific. He’s such a brilliant actor to work with. He is also incredibly well read. If you want to know anything, ask Mark, from what that tree is to what that bird is sitting in that tree. He's very, very knowledgeable. With some of the things he comes out with, I ask, “How on earth do you know that?” “I read it.” When he comes to work on the very first day of the shoot, he always brings loads of books, and they could be about anything. A few years ago, we did an episode that involved Goodfellow looking at this medical journal from the 1950s and talking about how someone could have been poisoned. It was a real book. Mark grabbed it off me and went, “Let me look at that.” He was thumbing through it and he said, “I'm going to buy this.” Then he went online whilst we were there, and he bought the book. He said, “It’s really interesting. I can find out stuff about medicine in the 50s.”
What else have you learned from Mark?
In this series we are doing episode about vampires, and I gather that was his idea. Mark found a true story about a vampire slayer in the Cotswolds in the 50s. He’s obviously done some research. So that's what I mean about him being very well read. He's really, really clever. He is off the scale intelligent.
Do you get recognised a lot?
Yes. I was doing a Stage Golfing Society day down in Bedfordshire the other day. As I walked into the bar, I could see this woman hopping from foot to foot. She asked, “Can I get a picture with you? I love the show. I'm from America, and it's huge out there.” I’ve also had young people from Australia coming up to me and saying, “You know, you wouldn't be able to walk down the street in Australia. It’s primetime on a Saturday night out there.” That’s what I love about Father Brown – the fact that we can give joy to people all over the world, and it can be dubbed into 101 different languages. I've seen it in Italian and German, and you just go, “That’s incredible!”