Three new Vicar Of Dibley Specials will be on our screens before Christmas. Not one. Not two. Three. I find that rather exciting.
A claim to fame is that I sat at one Greenbelt Board beside Joy Carroll the Anglican vicar that Rev Geraldine Grainger played by Dawn French is loosely based upon. Joy went off and married Jim Wallis, the American Christian political thinker, author and activist.
I found out about these episodes last night bY telephone as BBC Radio Ulster phoned to ask if I would come on Good Morning Ulster and talk about the show and my favourite moments.
I love the very first episode of the show. David Horton is helping a stranger off with her coat laughing that they are waiting for their new vicar and for a minute he feared that they had sent a woman. By the time that woman gets her coat off he sees the clerical collar… and off we go…
Introducing herself, someone gives her their name:
- You’ll probably have to tell me again. I have a terrible head for names. I can’t even remember the name of Mary’s eldest child.
It’s quick, slick, simple and I find it funny.
My favourite characters are Jim and Alice. Jim’s “no, no, no, no, yes!” Never gets tiring. When asked about the greatest ever rock band - “No, no, no, no… The Nolan Sisters!” All round entertainer, “No, no, no, no… Noel Edmunds!”
Alice’s dimness is utterly loveable. When she talks about how she found a butter that tastes just like “Just Like Butter” that she has been using because it tastes just like butter. One of the biggest challenges with the new episodes will be how to replace Alice as Emma Chambers sadly passed away in 2018.
Asked about my favourite scene I was immediately drawn to one that was funny, irreverent but spiritually right on it. It is Christmas again and they are planning the Nativity. The Vicar has a poster with The Greatest Story Ever Told on it. Everyone starts questioning that it is. Geraldine suggests changing it to “One Of The Best Stories…”
Then, she stops. She sits down. “No! This is a story about someone born in a manger. He taught us amazing things. Love your neighbour. Turn the other cheek. He then died for us all and here we are 2000 years later, worshipping him.” They agree to The Greatest Story…
I love that. The Gospel in its entirety in just a few seconds, right there is a comedy show. Some might find it irreverent but The Songs Of Praise Christmas Special might not be so bold, so explicit and so succinct.
There are many reasons to celebrate The Vicar Of Dibley being revived in Coronavirus Times. We all need a laugh. Since it was previously on TV, Christianity has been a laughing stock across much of the British media. A comedy with the Church at its core has a subversive possibility. That it will deal with virtual church and Zoom etc will be a rich vein for humour and allow you to get a handle into my Covid-19 Times. I cannot wait!