1 9 9 4 – 2 0 0 7 (UK)
Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and A Funeral (1994), Blackadder, Mr Bean) wrote this wonderful sitcom, which cast the generously-proportioned Dawn French as the Reverend Geraldine Granger in a crusade against sexism and snobbery in the Oxfordshire village of Dibley – a village not quite ready for a distaff parson.
“You were expecting a bloke with a beard, a bible and bad breath, you’ve got a babe with a bob cut and a magnificent bosom . . .”
Geraldine soon became an integral part of local life. Her duties included overseeing regular meetings of the parish council, at which her progressive politics and outsized personality were pitted against the conservative, irascible, and oddball personalities of the other members.
The topicality of the subject matter aside (the Church of England only permitted the ordination of women in 1993) it was a conventional, cosy British character comedy, redolent of Dad’s Army – and none the worse for it.
The show mined the bulk of its humour from Geraldine’s good-natured entanglements with her strange congregation.
Perhaps the stand-out gag from the series was the joke played over each episode’s closing credits: Geraldine told her absurdly literal-minded verger, Alice Tinker (Emma Chambers), a joke, and then had to explain it in enormous detail when Alice inevitably misunderstood the punch line.
“No, no, no, no, no, yes . . .”
Reverend Geraldine Granger