Emma Chambers: Vicar of Dibley’s Richard Curtis opens up on loss amid new lockdown episode12/09/2020
Dawn French returns as Vicar of Dibley for The Big Night In
Fans of The Vicar of Dibley were treated to a new episode yesterday when a 10-minute instalment aired after a classic instalment of the series. There will be three new episodes of the comedy screened after a previous edition for viewers to enjoy. When put together, these short sermons focus on the year 2020 and the trials and tribulations facing the world.
From the Black Lives Matter movement, the coronavirus pandemic and Zoom, The Vicar of Dibley will be reflecting on the last 12 months during unprecedented times.
These episodes are almost like a video diary of the trials and tribulations presented across this year.
The Vicar of Dibley finished in 2007 with the title clergywoman Geraldine Kennedy (played by Dawn French) finding love with accountant Harry (Richard Armitage).
Since then, the show has been off-screens with several cast members sadly dying including Emma Chambers – better known as Alice Tinker – who died in 2018 aged 54.
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Owen Newitt actor Roger Lloyd-Pack died in 2014 at the age of 69 and John Bluthal – who played Frank Pickle – passed away in 2018 aged 89.
One other cast member to have died is Liz Smith, who was better known as Letitia Cropley, and she passed away in 2016 aged 94.
In an exclusive interview with the mind behind The Vicar of Dibley, Richard Curtis, the writer opened up about penning the new episodes as well as addressing the loss of various cast members.
He explained: “We’re such an age-democratic show, so during the course of the last few years we’ve lost Roger Lloyd Pack, John Bluthal and Emma Chambers, so there’s a bit of a reference to that in one of them.”
Indeed, the first the Lockdown instalment referenced both Owen and Frank in the script with Geraldine getting a haircut from the farmer, while the parish secretary expectedly ringing the vicar’s doorbell.
Both of the references were off-screen but very much nodded to the losses from the show with Alice likely to get a mention at some point too.
The episodes serve as Curtis’ own 2020 diary and reflections of the new normal the world was thrust into this year.
Curtis wrote these episodes after he and French teamed up for a sketch for The Big Night In which also saw Geraldine pontificating to her flock.
He described writing these new Vicar of Dibley episodes as “fun and easy”.
However, he suggested the show was unlikely to make a fully-fledged return as he was now “semi-retired”.
Curtis said: “It’s interesting, when you’re working at full pelt and you have an idea, it’s kind of a burden because you think, ‘Oh, I’m now going to have to write that.’
“Whereas I had an idea for a whole new sitcom and it lives in my head but I don’t have to do any of the work, it’s great.
“There’s this whole show I would have written that I don’t have to write.
“Once in a while when I’m walking around, I think of scenes and characters for it, but I don’t have to cast them or write them.”
Instead of passing it on to someone else, Curtis said he simply told his wife and cultural critic Emma Freud.
He joked his idea followed an “ill-tempered” 60-year-old playwright but said he now didn’t have to “bother” writing it.
So, it looks like fans hoping for further episodes from The Vicar of Dibley will have to contend themselves with the new specials and the existing series and specials.
The Vicar of Dibley airs on BBC One on Mondays at 8.20pm
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