The Vicar of Dibley

The Vicar of Dibley is a British sitcom which originally ran on BBC One from 10 November 1994 to 1 January 2000, and then intermittently from 25 December 2004 to 23 December 2020. It is set in a fictional small Oxfordshire village called Dibley, which is assigned a female vicar following the 1992 changes in the Church of England that permitted the ordination of women.

The Vicar of Dibley
The Vicar of Dibley intro.jpg
Written byRichard Curtis
Paul Mayhew-Archer
Directed byDewi Humphreys (Series 1–2)
Gareth Carrivick (Series 3)
Barbara Wiltshire (lockdown episodes)
StarringDawn French
Emma Chambers
Trevor Peacock
Gary Waldhorn
James Fleet
John Bluthal
Liz Smith
Roger Lloyd-Pack
ComposerHoward Goodall
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series4 (including lockdown series)
No. of episodes31 (including lockdown and charity specials) (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producersRichard Curtis
Peter Bennett-Jones
Ben Caudell
ProducersJon Plowman
Sue Vertue (Series 2)
Margot Gavan Duffy (Series 3)
EditorsMark Sangster (Series 1)
Graham Carr (Series 1)
Chris Wadsworth (Series 2)
Mark Lawrence (Series 3)
Running time30–40 minutes (regular episodes)
40–55 minutes (specials)
4–14 minutes (charity and lockdown specials)
Production companyTiger Aspect Productions
DistributorEndemol UK
Release
Original networkBBC One
Original releaseOriginal Series: 10 November 1994 (1994-11-10) – 22 January 1998 (1998-01-22)
Specials:
24 December 1999 (1999-12-24) – 21 December 2020 (2020-12-21)

In ratings terms, it is among the most successful British programmes in the digital era, the Christmas and New Year specials entering the UK top 10 programmes of the year.[1]The Vicar of Dibley received multiple British Comedy Awards, two International Emmys, and was a multiple British Academy Television Awards nominee. In 2004, it placed third in a BBC poll of Britain's Best Sitcoms.

In addition to the twenty main episodes between 1994 and 2007, the series includes numerous shorter charity specials and 'lockdown' episodes.

PremiseEdit

BackgroundEdit

The series was created by Richard Curtis and written for actress Dawn French by Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer, with contributions from Kit Hesketh-Harvey. The main character was an invention of Richard Curtis, but he and Dawn French extensively consulted Joy Carroll, one of the first Anglican woman priests, and garnered many character traits and much information.[2]

Openings and epiloguesEdit

In earlier episodes, the opening credits were followed by a humorous village scene, such as a woman knitting directly from a sheep.[3]

After the closing credits, Geraldine usually tells Alice a joke, to which Alice either overreacts, tries to interpret the joke literally, or understands only after Geraldine explains the joke. There are a few exceptions to this in various episodes.

Cast and charactersEdit

Main castEdit

Actor Character Episodes
Dawn French The Reverend Geraldine Granger (later Kennedy) 31
Gary Waldhorn Cllr David Horton MBE FRCS 25
Roger Lloyd-Pack Owen Newitt 25
Trevor Peacock Jim Trott 26
John Bluthal Frank Pickle 23
James Fleet Hugo Horton 27
Emma Chambers Alice Horton (née Tinker), the Verger 24
Liz Smith Letitia Cropley 7

Recurring castEdit

Actor Character Episodes
Richard Armitage Harry Jasper Kennedy 2
Simon McBurney Cecil, the Choirmaster 4
Clive Mantle Simon Horton 2
Peter Capaldi Tristan Campbell 2
Patricia Kane Doris Trott 3
Keeley Hawes Rosie Kennedy 2
Edward Kelsey Mr Harris 2
Gareth Vaughan Gonads, the tenor 5 (4 of which uncredited)

Guest appearancesEdit

Hugh Bonneville, Mel Giedroyc, Richard Griffiths, Miranda Hart, Alistair McGowan, Philip Whitchurch, Nicholas Le Prevost, Brian Perkins and Roger Sloman have all made one guest appearance each.

Pam Rhodes, Kylie Minogue, Rachel Hunter, Terry Wogan, Jeremy Paxman, Martyn Lewis, Darcey Bussell and Sean Bean each appeared as themselves in one episode.

Sarah, Duchess of York, Richard Ayoade, Orla Brady, Fiona Bruce, Annette Crosbie, Johnny Depp, Ruth Jones, Hilary Kay, Damian Lewis, Maureen Lipman, Jennifer Saunders, Sting, Stephen Tompkinson and Emma Watson have made guest appearances in short charity specials.

EpisodesEdit

Series Episodes Originally aired Avg. UK viewers
(millions)
First aired Last aired
1 6 10 November 1994 (1994-11-10) 15 December 1994 (1994-12-15) N/A
Specials 2 8 April 1996 (1996-04-08) 25 December 1996 (1996-12-25) N/A
2 4 26 December 1997 (1997-12-26) 22 January 1998 (1998-01-22) N/A
3 4 24 December 1999 (1999-12-24) 1 January 2000 (2000-01-01) 13.53
A Very Dibley Christmas 2 25 December 2004 (2004-12-25) 1 January 2005 (2005-01-01) 12.05
A Wholly Holy Happy Ending 2 25 December 2006 (2006-12-25) 1 January 2007 (2007-01-01) 12.74
Comic Relief specials 7 14 March 1997 (1997-03-14) 23 April 2020 (2020-04-23)
The Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown 4 7 December 2020 (2020-12-07) 23 December 2020 (2020-12-23)

The Vicar of Dibley has had 31 episodes as of December 2020 including numerous revivals through short charity specials.

The first series was broadcast on BBC One from 10 November to 15 December 1994, consisting of six episodes. Following the first series, an Easter special and a Christmas special were broadcast in 1996. A four-episode second series was ordered and screened between the 26 December 1997 and 22 January 1998. Subsequent episodes consisted of Christmas and New Year specials, followed by a third series of four episodes, also referred to as seasonal specials as they have the titles Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer airing from 24 December 1999 to 1 January 2000. Thereafter came the two-episode "A Very Dibley Christmas" screening between 25 December 2004 and 1 January 2005 and the two-part finale, "A Wholly Holy Happy Ending", which was broadcast during Christmas 2006 and New Year 2007.

The final 2006–2007 episodes, in which the character Geraldine finds love and marries, were publicised as the "last-ever" episodes,[4] although there have been several Comic Relief charity specials since.

On 15 March 2013, French reprised her role as Geraldine Granger as part of her French and Saunders marathon on BBC Radio 2. She was interviewed by Chris Evans on his Pause for Thought section.

The series includes seven short charity specials: six for Comic Relief between 1997 and 2015; and a seventh in April 2020, in which French appeared on The Big Night In as part of a joint Comic Relief and Children in Need special to support those affected by COVID-19. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the segment was filmed at French's home.[5]

In December 2020, a series of short 'lockdown' episodes of The Vicar of Dibley were broadcast.[6] The series consisted of three short episodes followed by a compilation episode of the previous three episodes' material shown back to back, but including previously unseen material and scenes.

ProductionEdit

Location and settingEdit

 
The village of Turville in Buckinghamshire stands in for the village of Dibley
 
St Mary's Church, Turville, stands in for the fictional 'Parish Church of St Barnabus'[7]

The programme is set in the fictional Oxfordshire village of Dibley. Some of the villagers, including Alice, Jim and Owen, speak with slight West Country accents, as were once common in Oxfordshire but are now less common. The series was filmed in the Buckinghamshire village of Turville near High Wycombe, with the village's St Mary the Virgin Church doubling as Dibley's St Barnabus.[7] Other television programmes and films, such as Midsomer Murders, Goodnight Mister Tom, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Went the Day Well?, Father Came Too!, Marple, and Foyle's War have also been filmed in the village. The exterior location for David Horton's manor in the village of Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire.

The opening titles show aerial shots of the M40 motorway's Stokenchurch Gap, the Chiltern Hills of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, and the village of Turville.

Theme musicEdit

The theme music was a setting of Psalm 23 composed by Howard Goodall, and was performed by the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, with George Humphreys[8] singing the solo. The conductor was Stephen Darlington. Two versions are used over the opening credits: one with full choir, and one with a solo. Goodall originally wrote it as a serious piece of church choral music. It has been released as a charity single, with proceeds going to Comic Relief. It also appears on Goodall's CD Choral Works, which additionally includes his theme for Mr. Bean, another popular comedy co-created by Richard Curtis; coincidentally, a snippet of The Vicar of Dibley's theme music was used in the Mr. Bean episode "Tee Off, Mr. Bean".

Awards and accoladesEdit

In May 2007, Richard Curtis received a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award for his humanitarian pursuits, as well as his creative work, including The Vicar of Dibley.[11]

Home mediaEdit

The Vicar of Dibley was released in DVD in Region 2 (UK) from 2001. In 2002, a DVD entitled The Best of The Vicar of Dibley was released featuring a 90-minute film of Dawn French talking to the producer, Jon Plowman, with clips from the series. A 2002 documentary narrated by Jo Brand, entitled The Real Vicars of Dibley, was also on the DVD. In 2005, a boxset of the "complete collection" was released. This included all the then aired episodes and shorts except the 1997 BallyKissDibley Comic Relief short. The final two episodes and 6-disc "ultimate" box set were released on 26 November 2007, although neither included the 2007 Comic Relief short or BallyKissDibley.

In Australia (Region 4), all episodes have been released on DVD, but the 2007 Comic Relief short episode, "Wife Swap", has only been released on a Comic Relief DVD entitled Now That's What I Call Comedy.

In the United States and Canada (Region 1), all episodes have been released on DVD.

DVD Title Discs Year Ep # DVD release Special episodes
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Complete Series 1 1 1994 6 21 October 2003 26 November 2001 1 October 2003 The 1996 Christmas special (R2)
The Specials 1 1996 2 2001[12]
Complete Series 2 1 1997–1998 6 21 October 2003 2002 8 April 2004 The 1996 Easter special & Christmas special (R1 & R4)
Complete Series 3 1 1999–2000 4 21 October 2003 2002 2 March 2005 The 1997 & 1999 Comic Relief shorts (R1 & R4)
A Very Dibley Christmas 1 2004–2005 2 27 September 2005 14 November 2005 3 November 2005 The 1999 & 2005 Comic Relief short (All)
A Holy Wholly Happy Ending 1 2006–2007 2 9 October 2007 26 November 2007 16 January 2008
Complete Series 1 & 2 2 1994–1998 10 7 May 2007 The 1996 Christmas special (R2)
Complete Series 13 3 1994–2000 16 21 October 2003
Complete Series 12005 Sp. 4 1994–2005 18 14 November 2005 7 July 2005
Complete Series 12007 Sp. 6 1994–2007 20 9 October 2007 26 November 2007 3 April 2008 All the Red Nose Day specials and more
The Best of... 1 N/A 25 November 2002 Dawn French in conversation with producer John Plowman

Adaptations and returnEdit

On 6 February 2007, Fox announced plans to adapt The Vicar of Dibley into an American sitcom, titled The Minister of Divine. The series starred Kirstie Alley as a former "wild child" who returned to her hometown as its first female minister.[13] The pilot was broadcast on Fox, but the series was not continued.[14]

The series has also been adapted into two stage plays by Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter, both incorporating plots from the TV episodes.[15] The first, The Vicar of Dibley, and is largely concerned with Alice and Hugo's engagement and wedding. The second, A Vicar of Dibley Christmas – The Second Coming, is based on the episodes "Dibley Live" and "Winter", in which the villagers set up a radio station and put on a nativity play at Owen's farm.

In February 2016 it was reported that Dawn French was interested in returning to the role in a new series The Bishop of Dibley, to follow on from the 2015 Red Nose Day Special.[16] As of January 2021 this however has not materialised.

In December 2020 Dawn French opened up about the prospect of The Vicar of Dibley returning for a new series in 2021.[17]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 March 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Joy Carroll (September 2002). Beneath the Cassock: The Real-life Vicar of Dibley. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-712207-1.
  3. ^ Why you should watch The Vicar of Dibley, Radio Times, 4 December 2020
  4. ^ "Dibley's farewell is ratings hit". London: BBC. 2 January 2007.
  5. ^ "The Vicar of Dibley urges viewers to 'praise the lord and the NHS' as Dawn French reprises iconic role". The Independent. 23 April 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  6. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/b006qgfj/the-vicar-of-dibley?seriesId=m000q6ml
  7. ^ a b The saint's name is spelled "Barnabas", but the church is sometimes spelled "Barnabus" on the show.
  8. ^ "ABC Classic FM Music Details: Saturday 10 June 2000". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  9. ^ "Entertainment | Emmy success for Vicar of Dibley". BBC News. 24 November 1998. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  10. ^ "French, Dawn (1957–) Biography". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  11. ^ Thomas, Archie (18 May 2007). "British acad to honor Curtis – Scribe wrote 'Vicar of Dibley, ' 'Girl in the Cafe'". Variety. Retrieved 21 May 2007.
  12. ^ "The Vicar of Dibley – The Specials". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  13. ^ US version of 'Vicar of Dibley' to star Kirstie Alley, The Independent, 7 February 2007
  14. ^ How not to adapt a British sitcom in America, Lea Donovan, New Statesman, 16 March 2015
  15. ^ The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special, NODA, 28 November 2016
  16. ^ Simon Cable (14 February 2016). "Vicar of Dibley set for TV comeback – but with one very big change – Mirror Online". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  17. ^ https://www.hellomagazine.com/film/20201221103146/vicar-of-dibley-dawn-french-talks-new-series-for-2021/

External linksEdit