Ordinarily, there’s nothing on earth that would tempt me to watch a sitcom called Rev., about a country vicar taking over an inner-city parish. I’d mentally file it under ‘boring telly for older folks’, a large and unwieldy cabinet that contains Heartbeat, Morse, Midsomer Murders, etc. Then, cos I’m young and hip (hey, what the eye don’t see), I’d turn over and watch True Blood. At least, I would if it was on, and if I had a telly, which I don’t at the moment.
However, the cunning BBC casting people were clearly one step ahead, and brought in as the eponymous collar-jockey the only person who would induce me to watch: Tom Hollander. I love Tom Hollander. I would watch him if he was reading the phone book. I would watch him if he was presenting Top Gear. I would watch him if he was in Heartbeat. Oh, no, I probably wouldn’t. But I would consider it. Anyway, I have loved him ever since I saw him in the 1998 film Bedrooms and Hallways. In fact I can’t believe I haven’t done a ‘Lustbox’ on him yet. Watch this space.
So what about the programme, you’re asking. Well it was actually very enjoyable, despite following a fairly standard vicar-new boy-doesn’t know the rules of the land-evil Archbishop trope. I was afraid for a while that, despite the merciful lack of laughter track, it might veer into Vicar of Dibley territory. But it cleverly avoided this trap, and ate its cake too, via the device of three stereotyped yob builders yelling ‘Dibley! Dibley!’ at the reverend. Eventually, they goaded him beyond endurance and he whipped off his dog collar and shouted, ‘Why don’t you just fuck off!’ which was a deeply satisfying and very non-Dibley moment.
Things I liked about it included the curate, Nigel; the rev’s excellently believable – and good – relationship with his wife (another very watchable actor, Olivia Colman); and the sardonic Archbishop who holds all his meetings in a black cab. I also liked the crappiness of the parts of Shoreditch they filmed in, and the scruffy Colin, who plans to kick Richard Dawkins in the nuts.
I wasn’t keen on the congregant who finds vicars and churches so alluring that she orgasms during sermons; that’s a one-take gag I fear they are planning to stretch till it snaps like an perished elastic band. And I felt weary when I realised that Alexander Armstrong was playing the local MP in exactly the same way he has played every other role. But none of that mattered, because there, at the heart of it, stealing every scene, was Tom Hollander. And for that reason alone, I will watch again next week.
Posted by Qwerty