'Grantchester' is to return for a fourth series.

James Norton

James Norton

The ITV drama has been recommissioned for another instalment, but it will be the last one to feature James Norton as his jazz-loving clergyman character Sidney Chambers, with a new vicar set to replace him.

Rebecca Eaton, Masterpiece executive producer, 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."

But James' exit looks set to be a big one and show bosses have confirmed his replacement will be drafted in quickly.

Kudos executive producer Diederick Santer said: "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."

James will return for the fourth series alongside Robson Green, who will reprise his role as Detective Inspector Geordie Keating.

What's more, Al Weaver will be back as Leonard Finch, and Tessa Peake-Jones and Kacey Ainsworth will return to the show as Mrs. Sylvia Maguire and Cathy Keating respectively.

Production on the fourth season will begin in June in London, Cambridge, and Grantchester.

Last July, writer James Runcie hinted James may be replaced if he wasn't available for a fourth series.

He said: "James Norton is in such big demand now that I've no idea if he'll be available to film a new series.

"But 'Death in Paradise' has replaced the leading man, and that's still going strong, so if the worst comes to the worst..."