(Brooke’s generosity Blog)
It’s a round of sherry inside, and it’s “chucking it down” (raining in British-speak) outside. The bell rings. A bright, bold, boisterous woman covered head-to-toe in yellow rain gear pushes her way through the door. “Hello, I’m Geraldine. I think you’re expecting me.”
“No,” Mr. Horton replies as Geraldine turns her back to remove her rain-soaked gear. “I’m expecting our new vicar—unless, of course [big laugh], you are the new vicar and they’ve landed us with a woman as some sort of insane joke.”
Geraldine turns to Mr. Horton, clerical collar in full view. “Oh, dear,” she says. “You were expecting a bloke, beard, Bible, bad breath, and instead you got a babe with a bob cut and a magnificent bosom.”
Long-established, ever-in-charge, David Horton was afraid: afraid of change, afraid of unknown, afraid of being—or becoming—the laughingstock of the country. And so when the sun rose the next morning, he called the bishop, in hopes of returning this new-style vicar for a classic-cut man.
I do not think that I have ever laughed as hard at any other television show. Of course, I am in the ‘business’ and get some of the absurdities that confront clergy daily. There is something so delightful and engaging about the character of Geraldine Grainger, so magnificently played by Dawn French. There is a rightness and a goodness about having women as full participants in the church. It is now nearly impossible to imagine how women were excluded for so long.
The church of England ‘permitted’ the ordination of women in 1992. The Vicar of Dibley show started two years later. It was a subject of good hearted humour and a golden opportunity to feature the warmth and vitality of ministry. Somehow the warmth was easier to communicate through a female persona as the pastor, or vicar.
Gabbie Lynch, writing in the Plathoes Cave Blog, says this about the Vicar:
“I’m twenty years old now and Geraldine Granger remains my favorite fictional character on screen. I love her for all the same reasons as I did when I was three and what’s even better is that now I understand some of her more subtle jokes. Yet it is the overtop exhibiting of feminine qualities such as a melodramatic emotion, fiery sassiness and warming humour in a traditionally masculine role that ensures even a three year old girl can recognise that Geraldine Granger is a woman deserving of admiration!”
The show was so popular that after it ended in 1998, it came back for Christmas and New Year specials in 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
This was family television time in our house. This was at a time when we watched an electronic screen together. It is rarer today, with everyone customizing their screen time.
I hope that we at Knox Waterloo provide life giving memories for all our people. Geraldine did. So can we.