We Recommend: Rev. – Christmas Special

The BBC’s inner-city vicar takes on Christmas, but should you join him?

The BBC’s Rev., now concluding its second year, seems a pleasant little show. Sitting somewhere between grim sitcoms like Peep Show and light countryside comedy like Doc Martin, it provides us with a realistic world, where genuinely bad stuff happens, but the rules of mildly uplifting entertainment means there’s always an upside.

I’d never seen Rev. before, so perhaps other episodes are a more ruthless depiction of Father Adam’s urban church hell, but the Christmas episode was a sweet, human story, not afraid to make Adam’s plight seem genuinely awful at times, but also more than happy to launch into full-on sap when needed.

Tom Hollander, as the titular Rev., was great in the movie In The Loop, playing a character just as gormless but less pleasant beneath it, and is equally convincing here. Like it or not, the show stands or falls with him, and he nails every inch of the world-weariness. Olivia Colman, playing his wife, is good in pretty much anything.

The obvious comparison is with The Vicar Of Dibley, especially its legendary gorge-tastic Christmas Special, but this is less obvious, over-done humour. Having said that, it is just as general, open and family friendly, plus, you know, they both have vicars in them.

The Rev. Special, in short, is a good way to start warming yourself up for Christmas. I didn’t laugh until I was sick, but produced a steady stream of sincere chuckles, and you can’t help but feel empathy with the poor chap. In fact, I may check out the previous episodes, just to see how bad his life had been up till now.

So helpfully, the episode and the whole second series are on iPlayer for a while, and there’s also an official website for all your Rev. needs.

Nick Bryan

Updated: Dec 19, 2011

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We Recommend: Rev. – Christmas Special | The Digital Fix