Late Doncaster actress to appear as Vicar of Dibley returns for Christmas specials

Late Doncaster actress Emma Chambers is set to feature as BBC comedy favourite The Vicar of Dibley returns for a number of festive specials this Christmas.

Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 3:45 pm

Comedienne Dawn French is reprising her role as Geraldine Granger for three lockdown specials of the much-loved comedy favourite.

And it has been announced that the episodes will pay tribute to Doncaster-born Chambers, who died at the age of 53 in 2018.

The actress, who portrayed Alice Tinker in the sitcom, died of natural causes, but she will still remain crucial to the programme, bosses have said.

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Emma Chambers and Dawn French in the Vicar of Dibley.

"The very dearly departed Alice Tinker is also still an important presence in the village, with some residents still looking for lost buttons and the arrival of decimalisation," the BBC said in a statement announcing the show’s return.

Comedy star French, 63, said: "Back in the dog collar, back in Dibley and back on your telly at Xmas. I couldn't be happier. Bless you."

Dawn played Reverend Geraldine Granger, the first female vicar in the small village of Dibley, for 13 years from 1994 to 2007.

The episodes will last just 10 minutes each in the form of Geraldine's sermons and will air weekly on the BBC.

A 30-minute compilation episode of all three will then air later over Christmas.

"During lockdown, post lockdown and pre-another-lockdown, Geraldine has been writing and delivering monthly sermons to her parishioners via Zoom…when she can make it work," the BBC said.

"These new thoughts on life (and chocolate) will air after repeat showings of classic episodes of The Vicar Of Dibley, this Christmas on BBC One."

The new episodes will see Geraldine get help from Hugo Horton (James Fleet) as well as local primary school children, as the vicar discusses "all the important topics" including how to make home-made wine.

Shane Allen, controller of comedy commissioning for the BBC, said: "This triple festive treat from the nation's favourite fun-loving vicar is the warm comedy hug we’ve all missed."

Born in Doncaster in 1964, she attended St Mary’s School before launching an acting career which saw her star in hit Hollywood movie Notting Hill.

In 1998, she won the British Comedy Award for best TV actress for her performance in the Vicar of Dibley.