Dave Walker notes the arrival of a new sitcom on BBC2 next Monday, 'Rev' starring the superb Tom Hollander. It's about a run down inner city parish, with the standard array of peculiar characters (Vicar of Dibley minus the animals?). Hollander says of the programme in an interview with the Scotsman: In a very modest way, it is pro the church and pro this vicar. I emerged from this show with a great deal of respect for vicars. They put up with a lot and do really good work for people having a bad time.
lots of interesting stuff in the above interview, for example:
Hollander, reckons clergymen make a good subject for comedy. "We all struggle to behave well, but it's more extreme for vicars because they look sillier when things go wrong."
He has a theory as to why writers have so often been drawn to men and women of the cloth. "Stories about vicars are always being told because they're at the heart of our society. Vicars touch all parts of the community and see life in all its extremity."
They meet everyone from people grieving for lost loved ones to those approaching imminent death to the homeless to youngsters eager learn about life. They cover all the bases. As a vicar, you're the one person who can't say no – your door is always open. So writing a comedy about a vicar, you can go down pretty much any route. It's a terrific narrative spur."
"The vicar is an eternally fascinating character," continues the actor, who has previously played a more pompous parson, Mr Collins, in Pride And Prejudice. "The church is still one of the pillars of our society. Christian morality is in our daily lives whether we recognise it as Christian or not. When we get christened or married or die, we drift naturally in the direction of the church. And in moments of crisis, when our spiritual Tom-Tom is no longer telling us what to do, we find ourselves scrabbling at the vicarage door."
Follow the link to Dave's Church Times blog for other links on the programme. It'll be interesting to see if it's another Dibley-style ensemble comedy. Judging by the clip above, it's reasonably well researched, but asking a vicar to comment on something like this is like asking a nurse to comment on Holby City. I'd love it to achieve the ideal balance between comedy and realism, but a decent script will do. "Nigel, wouldn't you like to help me weed out some hypocrites?"