The forthcoming series of 'Grantchester' will be "bittersweet."

Credit: ITV

Credit: ITV

Fans of ITV's detective drama were left distraught earlier this summer when it was announced that James Norton would step down as charismatic clergyman Sidney Chambers mid-way through the fourth instalment, which went into production last month, and Tom Brittney would take on the lead part as Reverend Will Davenport.

But executive producer Rebecca Eaton is adamant that viewers will fall in love the new vicar and she's sure the series will conclude on a gripping high as always.

She said: "It's a bittersweet time for 'Grantchester' fans, who will be cheering the return of the series but crushed to say goodbye to James.

"We want to assure them that the series they love will continue with brilliant new episodes and a captivating new vicar."

Executive Producer Diederick Santer added to the Radio Times: "I'm ecstatic that - with Masterpiece and ITV - we are returning to 'Grantchester' with all our favourite characters. While I'm sad that these will be James Norton's final episodes, we will make sure he goes out with a bang. We've got exciting plans for where the show is heading and the vicarage won't be vacant for long."

And he's not the only one who is sad to wave goodbye to Chambers as James, 33, recently admitted he's heartbroken by his forthcoming departure but he's looking forward to seeing what Tom does with his new lead part.

He said: "As excited as I am to be filming a new series of 'Grantchester', it's also heartbreaking to be saying goodbye to Sidney Chambers.

"I've loved this experience, and particularly working with such an extraordinary cast and crew. All the best to the fantastic Tom Brittney in his role as the new vicar. He is a wonderful addition to the 'Grantchester' family."