Everybody’s favourite vicar is coming back! Yes dear friends, the lovely Dawn French will be donning her vestments to play The Vicar of Dibley in a one-off show for BBC charity night Comic Relief, also known as “Red Nose Day” because the public buys red noses and wears them for charity. Yes, they really do. They even have noses for cars, pets and houses. We Brits don’t do things by halves.
The special, in which French will again play vicar Geraldine Granger, will feature her campaigning to be made into the Bishop of Dibley. Official news of the special is not forthcoming; a BBC spokesman told the Daily Mail that “I can confirm there’s going to be a Dibley sketch for Red Nose Day on Friday, March 13, but I can’t confirm anything further or provide any more detail at this stage”.
However, according to the Mail a “source” says that “Geraldine’s character assumes she is a shoo-in to become the Bishop of Dibley but the joke is that there are some other very unexpected names in the frame…some big names have been cast as the rivals but to name them would give away the joke”.
Considering that the original series starred such comedy legends as Trevor Peacock, James Fleet, and Roger Lloyd-Pack it sounds like they’ve got some pretty big hitters to join in.
The Vicar of Dibley chronicled the life and loves of a village vicar, and of course there’s a sprinkling of country stereotypes who gently laugh at themselves. There’s the lord of the manor, his dimwit son, the dotty old bachelor, the rough-and-ready farmer and the simple verger (who married the dimwit son). It was an enchanting, magical series and I am so looking forward to the special.
Not only is The Vicar of Dibley one of the most beloved of British comedies, epitomising the bucolic, slow-paced existence that many in this country hanker for, but it was ground-breaking in its day.
When the show first aired, in 1994, the General Synod of the Church of England had only just decided to allow the ordination of women, and many people were – and still are – opposed to female vicars. With news of the Comic Relief special coming hard on the heels of the decision to allow women to become bishops, the show is yet again at the forefront of social change. Who would’ve thought a half-hour comedy about a tiny village parish would be so cutting-edge?
Richard Curtis, the comedy-writing genius who co-wrote the original series, is again working on the special, together with French’s ex-husband, comedian Lenny Henry.
The Vicar of Dibley special for Comic Relief will air on Friday, March 13.