Dear The Vicar of Dibley
Today marks the 23rd anniversary of The Vicar of Dibley being first broadcasted. At first glance it’s a typical British sitcom filled with camp, dated jokes, but The Vicar of Dibley is so much more than that to me and here’s why:
As a young girl I gravitated towards The Vicar of Dibley because of Dawn French. She was and still is a huge influence on me and my work.
The Vicar of Dibley is centred around Dawn French’s character Geraldine Granger who comes to a small English Village as their Vicar, the first female Vicar they’ve ever had. The show is set around the contrast between the old-fashioned values of the Village and the introduction of modernity with Geraldine.
Geraldine is set up to be a great character from the beginning, being a woman in a mans world but it gets better.
Geraldine is a big woman, Geraldine is a funny woman, Geraldine is a positive woman.
She is a big woman and in a sitcom you think that means the main jokes are going to be about her size and her being at the punch line but she’s not. Instead she either makes the joke or if someone makes a comment she corrects them with a better line, having the final say. Owning her body. Physical comedy is used between her and smaller for different reasons. Sometimes it’s for pure comedy and its not saying Geraldine is lesser because of her size but the comparison is just funny. Whereas other times Geraldine obviously feels insecure about the differences and is put down, something all women have felt. By the end of an episode where this happens, Geraldine always shows her value and ends up being friends with the other woman. Women supporting women!
She’s funny and this was great to see as a kid. Watching a woman being funny, probably more funny than the men, made me feel that I wasn’t so different.
Sexuality, Geraldine is a big lady with sexuality, this was revolutionary and still is now. The idea that women have sexual urgency and need is developing in the media but for a big woman to, that was unknown. Her ability to talk about sex openly and wanting it, especially for a Vicar too, was something I had never seen before and am now starting to see it more.
Queer. Geraldine is open about her sexuality with men and women. She talks about relationships with women as something thats fun and sexy and not unusual or wrong.
Being camp and fun in a business environment but still having the ability to be serious and most of all, respected. By the end of the series having Geraldine as the Vicar isn’t an issue and is actually seen as the best thing to happen to the Village. They respect her and take her ideas and worth seriously, that’s what I want to see more of.
The Vicar of Dibley had a huge influence on me about how women are treated in society and body positivity, that your size doesn’t restrict you and doesn’t make you any less of a woman. I’m so glad I grew up with it.
Thanks Vics. Lucy.