My Favourite Christmas Special: The Vicar of Dibley 1996

Four Christmas lunchs and one very kind vicar a good Christmas special make.

I don’t believe in God, but for a while The Vicar of Dibley made me want to become a vicar. I think that’s already saying quite a lot about how much I like this show. Sweet, always interesting and funny enough to make me cry with laughter upon occasion, it was one of my favourite shows even though I was only four when it was first broadcast. Even now I’ll always stick an episode of The Vicar of Dibley on if I see it on the TV listings.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve chosen this, the 1996 Christmas Special “The Christmas Lunch Incident”, as my favourite. It’s not just my favourite Christmas Special, it’s also my favourite episode ever of one of my favourite sitcoms. That’s a whole lot of favourite.

For those who haven’t seen it Geraldine Granger, the vicar of Dibley, is invited to Christmas lunch by four of her parishioners. Too kind to say no to any of them, on the day she turns up to each dinner in turn.

Each dinner is bizarre in a totally different way. Alice’s family is incredibly strange, and when Geraldine gently tries to say that she may not be able to eat with them Alice declares that she would just cry and cry and cry forever. Jim and Frank’s dinner is boring, Geraldine has to take part in a sprout eating contest to try and make poor bullied Hugo happy on Christmas Day and then Owen turns up looking for company — he’s been alone every Christmas for the past 25 years.

The episode is full of the witty comments and despairing facial expressions that make The Vicar of Dibley so enjoyable. Geraldine is the only sane person in the entire village and Dawn French plays this exceptionally well. Geraldine despairs at the villagers and makes sarcastic comments that make us laugh, but she’s never cruel.

There is also the scene of her crawling down the road after her third Christmas dinner, which made me laugh so hard that I slid off the sofa and beat the floor with my fists when I saw it (I was 6, I’m allowed a little overreaction). Even now, 15 years after I first saw it, I smile when I think of it.

It wasn’t thrilling. It wasn’t a huge epic love story. It wasn’t gripping or terrifying or anything like that. But it was very funny, very enjoyable and very good. My favourite Christmas special by far.

Amy Jones

Updated: Dec 24, 2011

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