Set in the whimsical fictional English village of Dibley, nestled in Oxfordshire's Chiltern Hills, The Vicar of Dibley has cemented its place in British TV history. The show remains much-loved worldwide. The show's classic British countryside setting, eccentric cast, and unique brand of, at times, outrageous but always family-friendly humor keep it a firm favorite.
Despite being seemingly aired for years, it’s funny to consider how few series of The Vicar of Dibley there actually are - just three short series and a handful of specials and charity revivals from 1994 to 2020.
Maybe The Vicar of Dibley is the perfect example of "less is more"!
The most recent The Vicar of Dibley special called 'The Vicar of Dibley, In Lockdown' was broadcast in 2020.
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The Vicar of Dibley: a quintessential British sitcom
Everything from The Vicar of Dibley's famous theme tune, an adaptation of The Lord Is My Shepherd by British composer Howard Goodall, to the quaint setting and incredible cast has helped make The Vicar of Dibley a much-loved sitcom worldwide.
The Vicar of Dibley has won multiple awards and placed 3rd in a 2004 survey to find Britain's Best Sitcom, just below Only Fools and Horses and Blackadder and above Fawlty Towers and Dad's Army. Strangely, neither the show nor its cast members ever won a BAFTA, but it did pick up nine nominations through the years.
1992 changes to the Church of England permitted the ordination of women as vicars and Geraldine Granger, played by Dawn French, was one of the beneficiaries of this liberalization of church ministerial positions. This is the foundation of the show's story.
The Vicar of Dibley mostly centers around its characters and their eccentrically conservative approach to village affairs.
Heart-warming, funny and memorable, the small cast ensured that The Vicar of Dibley was a hit sitcom for the ages. The show ended up writing itself - like any quality sitcom, it came alive and evolved in its own way.
Where was The Vicar of Dibley filmed?
The Vicar of Dibley was filmed in the Buckinghamshire village of Turville near High Wycombe, nestled within the picturesque Chiltern Hills. Turville’s St Mary the Virgin Church is the show’s St Barnabus Church.
Fans of British film and TV may recognize much of Turville. The village has been the backdrop for many movies and dramas, including Midsomer Murders, Goodnight Mr. Tom, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Marple, and Foyle's War.
Though Turville is in Buckinghamshire, the show is set in neighboring Oxfordshire. As a result, much of the cast has slight West Country accents, which were once common amongst residents of the home counties.
The cast of The Vicar of Dibley
Most of the main and recurring cast of The Vicar of Dibley are household names and faces, but where are they all today?
The main and recurring The Vicar of Dibley cast consisted of just eight characters:
The Reverend Geraldine Granger
Alice Tinker (later Horton when married to Hugo)
While The Vicar of Dibley's main cast was just eight strong, many other cast members appeared in several episodes, including specials and charity re-runs. The most well-known is Richard Armitage as Harry Jasper Kennedy, Geraldine’s fantasy romance and eventual husband.
Guest appearances on the show include Hugh Bonneville, Terry Wogan, Darcey Bussell, Sean Bean, and Kylie Minogue. Each appeared in at least one episode.
Appearances in charity re-runs and specials include Emma Watson, Sting, Damian Lewis, the Duchess of York, Fiona Bruce, and Johnny Depp.
The Vicar of Dibley's charity involvement partly stems from Dawn French and her former husband Lenny Henry's association with Comic Relief and other charity movements.
Where is The Vicar of Dibley cast now?
Dawn French - Reverend Geraldine Granger
Dawn French is still going strong with numerous TV and film appearances. She’s one of the most well-known British TV personalities and has recently been in the news for her stunning weight loss.
Dawn French's long and illustrious career has seen her take roles on the big screen, including as a portrait in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. She has performed voice work in films The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Coraline. One of her longest-running works is the sitcom French and Saunders.
Dawn French was married to Lenny Henry for 25 years before separating in 2010. She is now married to charity executive Mark Bignell.
Emma Chambers - Alice Tinker
Church verger, Alice Tinker, was one of the show's standout characters. Alice was known for her clumsy, silly, and outright stupid nature, labeled once by Granger as possessing the "intellectual capacity and charisma of a cactus."
In the show, Alice ends up marrying Hugo despite great resistance from his father. They go on to have ten children.
Emma Chambers won the British Comedy Award for Best Actress in 1998 for her performance in the show and would star in the blockbuster film Notting Hill the following year.
She was close friends with most of her co-stars, particularly Dawn French. The two famously share an after-credits joke that appears just after each episode.
Emma Chambers tragically died of a heart attack in February 2018 at just 53 years old. She had long suffered from severe allergies and bad health, but her death still came as a great shock.
Dawn French was heartbroken and put up the below heartfelt tribute to Emma.
Roger Lloyd-Pack - Owen Newitt
Hilariously inappropriate and wild countryman Owen Newitt was one of many who proposed to Geraldine Granger. His obsession with his farm animals, poor hygiene, and outrageous off-the-cuff remarks make him a memorable character in The Vicar of Dibley.
Lloyd-Pack’s superb career also saw him play Barty Crouch, Sr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Cyberman creator, John Lumic, in two Doctor Who episodes. However, he's best remembered for his role as Trigger in Only Fools and Horses. He had one of the longest and most illustrious acting careers of anyone who starred in The Vicar of Dibley.
Lloyd-Pack died of pancreatic cancer in 2014, aged 69.
Dawn French paid tribute to his death, hailing him as a lovely and complicated man. His funeral was attended by Only Fools and Horses duo David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst.
Trevor Peacock - Jim Trott
Trevor Peacock, who played Jim Trott, has a tremendous theatre career that has seen him take many major Shakespearean roles. He has also featured in TV dramas and other sitcoms like Jonathan Creek and My Family. He has also written several hit songs, including Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter.
In The Vicar of Dibley, his hilariously well-executed 'no-no-no-no-no' catchphrase is one of the most memorable features of the show. It even caused him to lose on Deal or No Deal (in character) because of his stuttering.
Yet another character with a crush on Geraldine Granger, Jim Trott proposed to the vicar in the final episode.
Peacock died in March 2021 after battling a dementia-related illness since 2009. Despite his condition, he appeared in a 2015 charity special. He retired from acting in 2017.
John Bluthal - Frank Pickle
John Bluthal’s long career spanned some 60 years; some of his early work involved Spike Milligan, and he featured in three Carry On films and Casino Royale (1967). He also starred in more recent films such as Dark City and The Fifth Element.
In The Vicar of Dibley, John Bluthal’s character, Frank, is known for his boring-yet-eccentric personality. He was a great lover of long speeches and rigmarole and was named 'The Most Boring Man in Britain’ by a newspaper headline.
After 40 years of keeping it a secret, he came out as gay on the radio, but only Geraldine was listening at the time.
John’s last two acting credentials were in Hail, Caesar! (2016) and Jungle (2017). He died in 2018, aged 89.
James Fleet - Hugo Horton
The son of David Horton and later husband to Alice, Hugo Horton is played by James Fleet.
His important character Hugo is charmingly innocent, the most famous moment being his marriage to Alice, which was much frowned upon by his, at times, cruel father.
Fleet, now in his 70s, is still very good friends with Dawn French. He is probably best known for playing Tom in Four Weddings and a Funeral and has also starred in the UK soap Coronation Street.
His most recent television appearances include the historical drama Belgravia and Netflix’s drama, Bridgerton.
Gary Waldhorn - Councillor David Horton
The character of Councillor David Horton was a classic conservative skeptic who initially resisted the idea of a female vicar but later came around to respect Geraldine Granger greatly.
He was yet another character to shockingly propose to Geraldine, who actually accepted before backing out later.
David Horton also disapproved of his son's relationship with Alice.
Gary Waldhorn has enjoyed a long TV and theatre career. He has played parts in Softly, Softly, The Sweeney, Heartbeat, Robin of Sherwood, and Brush Strokes, to name but a few titles from a 50-year-long career.
Liz Smith - Letitia Cropley
Liz Smith was a veteran British TV and film star.
Her Vicar of Dibley character, Letitia, dies during the famous Easter Bunny episode. Her character was best known for her outrageous recipes and cooking, including a Marmite cake featuring Branston Pickle icing.
Perhaps best known for playing Nana in The Royle Family, Smith was given an MBE in 2009 and died in 2016, aged 95.
The Vicar of Dibley’s legacy
The Vicar of Dibley’s legacy is assured, and its characters will live on for as long as comedy exists.
One of the most memorable and loved BBC sitcoms ever, The Vicar of Dibley is world-renowned and has even featured guest appearances from the likes of Johnny Depp and Kylie Minogue.
Supported by a small cast of household names and faces, The Vicar of Dibley has all the makings of a quality British sitcom.
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