The Vicar of Dibley
|The Vicar of Dibley|
|Written by||Richard Curtis|
|Directed by||Dewi Humphreys (Series 1–2)|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||3|
|No. of episodes||20 (+ 7 charity shorts) (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Richard Curtis|
Sue Vertue (Series 2)
Margot Gavan Duffy (Series 3)
|Editor(s)||Mark Sangster (Series 1)|
Graham Carr (Series 1)
Chris Wadsworth (Series 2)
Mark Lawrence (Series 3)
|Running time||30–40 minutes (regular episodes)|
40–55 minutes (specials)
|Production company(s)||Tiger Aspect Productions|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Original release||Original Series: 10 November 1994 – 22 January 1998 |
24 December 1999 – 1 January 2007
The Vicar of Dibley is a British sitcom which originally ran on BBC One from 10 November 1994 to 22 January 1998, and then from the 24 December 1999 to 1 January 2007. 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. It was placed third in a BBC poll of Britain's best sitcoms.
In ratings terms, it is among the most successful British programmes in the digital era, with the various Christmas and New Year specials in 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 all entering the UK top 10 programmes of the year. The Vicar of Dibley received multiple British Comedy Awards (including a Best TV Comedy Actress Award for Emma Chambers), 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.
The series also includes six charity special shorts, for Comic Relief, the most recent in 2015.
In April 2020, the show returned for a short segment in The Big Night In - fundraising for both Comic Relief and Children in Need. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the segment was filmed at the home of Dawn French, who reprised her role as the vicar Geraldine Granger.
Cast and characters
|Dawn French||The Reverend Geraldine Granger (later Kennedy)||20|
|Gary Waldhorn||Cllr David Horton||20|
|Roger Lloyd-Pack||Owen Newitt||20|
|Trevor Peacock||Jim Trott||20|
|John Bluthal||Frank Pickle||20|
|James Fleet||Hugo Horton||20|
|Emma Chambers||Alice Horton (née Tinker), the Verger||20|
|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|
- Hugh Bonneville as Reverend Jeremy Ogilvy
- Mel Giedroyc as Mary Tinker, Alice's sister
- Richard Griffiths as the Bishop of Mulberry
- Miranda Hart as Suzie, speed dating host
- Alistair McGowan as a radio DJ
- Philip Whitchurch as Reg Dwight, blues singer
- Nicholas Le Prevost as Daniel Frobisher, financier
- Brian Perkins as Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
Sarah, Duchess of York, Richard Ayoade, Orla Brady, Fiona Bruce, Annette Crosbie, Johnny Depp, Ruth Jones, Damian Lewis, Maureen Lipman, Jennifer Saunders, Sting, Stephen Tompkinson and Emma Watson have made guest appearances in shorts made for Comic Relief.
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.
|Series||Episodes||Originally aired||Avg. UK viewers|
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||6||10 November 1994||15 December 1994||N/A|
|Specials||2||8 April 1996||25 December 1996||N/A|
|2||4||26 December 1997||22 January 1998||N/A|
|Seasonal Specials||4||24 December 1999||1 January 2000||13.53|
|A Very Dibley Christmas||2||25 December 2004||1 January 2005||12.05|
|A Wholly Holy Happy Ending||2||25 December 2006||1 January 2007||12.74|
The Vicar of Dibley has had 20 episodes, spanning two series between 1994 and 1998, and ten specials between 1996 and 2007. In addition there have been six short charity specials, between 1997 and 2015.
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, with the four "Seasonal Specials" (in the order autumn, winter, spring, summer, often referred to as the third series) airing from 24 December 1999 to 1 January 2000, 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 episodes often begin and end with funny vignettes. In earlier episodes, the opening credits were followed by a humorous village scene, such as a woman knitting directly from a sheep, a man sliding off a thatched roof, or the vicar building a tower of books to amuse Alice's baby. 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: in "The Window & the Weather" (1994) Alice tells a joke to Geraldine; in "Love and Marriage" (1998) Geraldine tells the joke to David, as Alice is away on her honeymoon; and in "Happy New Year" (2005) the joke is told at the beginning, since the end of the episode includes a discussion of the Make Poverty History campaign.
Awards and accolades
- British Comedy Awards – 1997, 1998, 2000
- National Television Awards – 1998
- International Emmy – 1998, 2001
- British Academy Television Awards – 1998 (nominee), 1999 (nominee), 2000 (nominee), 2001 (nominee), 2005 (nominee), 2007 (nominee)
- Britain's Best Sitcom (2004) – No. 3
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 (sic). 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 (usually only seen in establishing shots) was not located in Turville, but in the village of Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire.
Only two episodes, "The Window and the Weather" (1994) and "Celebrity Vicar" (1998), plus the 2013 Comic Relief sketch have scenes clearly set in locations outside the village. It is not clear whether other scenes, such as the speed dating session in "Happy New Year" (2005), were meant to be located in the village or not.
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. Goodall originally wrote it as a serious piece of church choral music. It has been released as a charity single with proceeds to Comic Relief. It also appears on Goodall's CD Choral Works, which also includes his theme for another popular comedy, Mr. Bean - and coincidentally a snippet of The Vicar of Dibley's theme music was used in Mr. Bean episode "Tee Off, Mr. Bean".
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 called Now That's What I Call Comedy.
In the United States and Canada (Region 1), all episodes have been released on DVD.
The seasonal specials are referred to as "Series 3" in the US. But was not released as such on VHS or DVD in the UK. In the United States, the four specials were released as "Season 3".
|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||—|
|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||—||—||—|
|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|
In February 2016 it was reported that Dawn French was interested in returning to the role as "The Bishop of Dibley", to follow on from the 2015 Red Nose Day Special.
The idea for a US version of the show came about when two co-stars of the American sitcom Frasier, Jane Leeves and Peri Gilpin, set up their production company Bristol Cities with an American version of The Vicar of Dibley as their first project. 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 series was not picked up by Fox for its 2007–2008 schedule.
The series has been adapted into two stage plays by Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter, both incorporating some plots from the TV episodes.
The first is titled The Vicar of Dibley and is largely concerned with Alice and Hugo's engagement and wedding.
The second is titled A Vicar of Dibley Christmas - The Second Coming and is based on the episodes "Dibley Live" and "Winter". The villagers set up a radio station and put on a nativity play at Owen's farm.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 March 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "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.
- Joy Carroll (September 2002). Beneath the Cassock: The Real-life Vicar of Dibley. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-712207-1.
- "Dibley's farewell is ratings hit". London: BBC. 2 January 2007.
- "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.
- "ABC Classic FM Music Details: Saturday 10 June 2000". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
- "The Vicar of Dibley - The Specials". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 27 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.
- "Pilots: FOX 'Minister' Role Up Kirstie's Alley". Zap2it.com. Retrieved 6 February 2007.
- NODA https://www.noda.org.uk/show-reports/the-vicar-of-dibley-christmas-special
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