The Vicar of Dibley
|The Vicar of Dibley|
|Opening theme||"The Lord Is My Shepherd", arr. Howard Goodall|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||3|
|No. of episodes||20 (not including lockdown or charity specials) (list of episodes)|
|Production company||Tiger Aspect Productions|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Picture format||576i (4:3) (SDTV) (1994–1998)|
576i (16:9) (SDTV) (1999–2006)
1080i (16:9) (HDTV) (2020)
|Original release||10 November 1994 –|
21 December 2020
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.
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. 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, as well as 'lockdown' episodes produced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 female Anglican priests, and garnered many character traits and much information.
Openings and epilogues
In earlier episodes, the opening credits were followed by a humorous village scene, such as a woman knitting directly from a sheep.
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 characters
|Dawn French||The Reverend Geraldine Granger (later Kennedy)||31|
|Gary Waldhorn||Cllr David Horton||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|
|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)|
Hugh Bonneville, Mel Giedroyc, Richard Griffiths, Miranda Hart, Alistair McGowan, Geraldine McNulty, Philip Whitchurch, Nicholas Le Prevost, Brian Perkins and Roger Sloman have all made one guest appearance each.
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, Dervla Kirwan, and Emma Watson have made guest appearances in short charity specials.
The Vicar of Dibley has had 20 episodes as of January 2007 including numerous revivals through seven 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, although there have been several Comic Relief charity specials since.
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.
In December 2020, a series of short 'lockdown' episodes of The Vicar of Dibley were broadcast. 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.
Location and setting
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. Other television programmes and films, such as Midsomer Murders, Goodnight Mister Tom, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Went the Day Well?, Father Came Too!, Marple, ‘’Lewis’’ 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 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 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 accolades
|1997||British Comedy Awards||Best TV Comedy Actress||Dawn French||Won|
|BAFTA Awards||Best Comedy (Programme or Series)||The Vicar of Dibley||Nominated|
|Best Comedy Performance||Dawn French||Nominated|
|National Television Awards||Most Popular Comedy Performer||Nominated|
|Most Popular Comedy Programme||The Vicar of Dibley||Won|
|RTS Television Award||Best Situation Comedy or Comedy Drama||Won|
|International Emmy||Popular Arts||Won|
|1999||BAFTA Awards||Best Comedy (Programme or Series)||Nominated|
|National Television Awards||Most Popular Comedy Performer||Dawn French||Nominated|
|Most Popular Comedy Programme||The Vicar of Dibley||Nominated|
|BAFTA Awards||Best Comedy Performance||Dawn French||Nominated|
|Suitation Comedy Awards||The Vicar of Dibley||Nominated|
|Lew Grade Award||Nominated|
|Best Comedy Performance||Dawn French||Nominated|
|2005||Situation Comedy Award||The Vicar of Dibley||Nominated|
|TV Quick Awards||Best Comedy Show||Won|
|2007||BAFTA Awards||Best Comedy Performer||Dawn French||Nominated|
|Banff Rockie Award||Best Comedy Program||The Vicar of Dibley||Nominated|
|Rose d'Or Light Entertainment Festival||Golden Rose Award for Comedy||Won|
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)|
|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||The Story Of The Vicar Of Dibley (1 hour BBC documentary, 31st December 2007)|
|Complete Series 1 & 2||2||1994–1998||10||—||7 May 2007||—||The 1996 Christmas special (R2)|
|Complete Series 1–3||3||1994–2000||16||21 October 2003||14 October 2019||—||—|
|Complete Series 1 – 2005 Sp.||4||1994–2005||18||—||14 November 2005||7 July 2005||—|
|Complete Series 1 – 2007 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 return
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. The pilot was broadcast on Fox, but the series was not continued.
The series has also been adapted into two stage plays by Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter, both incorporating plots from the TV episodes. 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. In December 2020 Dawn French opened up about the prospect of The Vicar of Dibley returning for a new series in 2021.
- "Archived copy of 'This years events'". Archived from the original on 10 March 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2008.[failed verification]
- Joy Carroll (September 2002). Beneath the Cassock: The Real-life Vicar of Dibley. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-712207-1.
- Why you should watch The Vicar of Dibley, Radio Times, 4 December 2020
- "Dibley's farewell is ratings hit". London: BBC. 2 January 2007.
- "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.
- Comedy The Vicar of Dibley www.bbc.co.uk, accessed 14 February 2021
- The saint's name is spelled "Barnabas", but the church is sometimes spelled "Barnabus" on the show.
- "ABC Classic FM Music Details: Saturday 10 June 2000". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
- "Entertainment | Emmy success for Vicar of Dibley". BBC News. 24 November 1998. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
- "French, Dawn (1957–) Biography". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
- Thomas, Archie (18 May 2007). "British acad to honor Curtis – Scribe wrote 'Vicar of Dibley, ' 'Girl in the Cafe'". Variety. Retrieved 21 May 2007.
- "The Vicar of Dibley – The Specials". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
- US version of 'Vicar of Dibley' to star Kirstie Alley, The Independent, 7 February 2007
- How not to adapt a British sitcom in America, Lea Donovan, New Statesman, 16 March 2015
- The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special, NODA, 28 November 2016
- 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.
- Dawn French hints at The Vicar of Dibley returning for new series www.hellomagazine.com, accessed 14 February 2021
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