The Vicar of Dibley

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Reverend Geraldine Granger

The Vicar of Dibley is a British Sitcom, starring Dawn French as Geraldine Granger. Following the Ordination of Women into the Church of England, Geraldine replaces the old archetypal vicar in the sleepy and quirky country village of Dibley. The village has to get used to the laid back "babe with a bob cut and a magnificent bosom" being their new vicar, while Geraldine herself has to cope with a village full of lunatics and inbreds, as well as the corrupt machinations of councillor David Horton. Hilarity, as they say, ensues.

The show ran from 1994 to 2007, and has been seen resurfacing for sketches or charity appeals. It was released at approximately the time of female ordination.

Came third in Britain's Best Sitcom.

The Vicar of Dibley is the Trope Namer for:

Tropes used in The Vicar of Dibley include:
  • Abhorrent Admirer: On occasion, Owen towards the Vicar.
  • Adorkable: Hugo Horton.
  • Away in a Manger: During a Christmas Episode, Alice gives birth on Christmas Eve in the middle of the village nativity play.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Geraldine and David through much of the series, though it's decidedly one-sided. David was so used to arguing with people that he misinterpreted Geraldine's resistance to him as genuine affection. She does care about him in a weird way, just not in that way.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: The village certainly seems to think Geraldine is, with constant references to her "lovely arse".
  • Big Eater: While Dawn French is certainly not skinny, the degree with which she is occasionally shown to binge on chocolate (and occasionally other foodstuffs, such as icecream) would kill an entire team of sumo wrestlers. An entire human-sized freezer of Haagen-Daas in one sitting is beyond the appetites of most people, but not Geraldine.
  • Big No: Geraldine uses the "Short answer: No. Long answer: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO." version long before Yahtzee and Strong Bad did.
  • Book Safe: Geraldine has a hollowed-out Bible to hide her chocolate bars in.
  • Brick Joke: The human-sized puddle comes back to haunt Geraldine in the penultimate episode, after she specifically insists to Alice that she'll never fall for it again.
  • British Brevity: Twenty episodes and four specials were made. Over thirteen years.
  • But You Screw One Goat!: Owen, supposedly.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: When David tells Hugo that, if he marries Alice, then "you will no longer be welcome in this house, you will no longer be my son, and as this will attests, you will have nothing!" Hugo actually stands up to David (a rare feat for him), shoves the will back at him, and says, respectfully but coldly, "On the contrary, sir, I shall have everything in the world that I desire."
  • The Cameo: The series has featured some notable celebrity cameos, including Kylie Minogue, Sean Bean, and Johnny Depp.
  • The Cassandra: David during the episode "Celebrity Vicar", when Geraldine temporarily gave up her status as Dibley's other Only Sane Man in believing that her moment in the media spotlight would end well. David insists throughout the episode (to the disbelief of everyone else) that she's headed for disaster. He's right, and the entire council are humiliated by the tabloid press.
  • Chekhov's Gun: See Curse Cut Short below—the joke is set up subtly earlier on when the parish council receives an anonymous donation of an original King James Version. It is then enhanced when David discusses the writing style with Ruth when they see it on the gravestones. Then Alice steps up to the pulpit...
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The vast majority of the village have a strange detachment from reality, but Alice Tinker especially suffers from this (almost bordering on The Ditz territory).

Alice: You know that stuff they're selling now at the local shop?
Geraldine: Which stuff?
Alice: I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.
Geraldine: Oh, yes.
Alice: Well, I can't believe it's not butter.
Geraldine: Yeah, well I believe that is the idea, yeah.
Alice: Then yesterday, I went to Crookenden and I bought this other stuff, like a sort of home-brand, you know?
Geraldine: Yes...
Alice: And you know, I can't believe it's not I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
Geraldine: Mmm. I'm losing you now.
Alice: Well, you know I Can't Believe It's Not Butter?
Geraldine: Yeah, you think it is butter.
Alice: No no, I mean you know the stuff that I can't believe is not butter is called I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.
Geraldine: Probably, yeah, yeah.
Alice: Well I can't believe the stuff that is not I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is not I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and I can't believe that both I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and the stuff that I can't believe is not I Can't Believe It's Not Butter are both, in fact, not butter. And I believe they both might be butter, in a cunning disguise. And in fact there's a lot more butter around than we all thought there was.
Geraldine: Yeah. You see, I don't know what you're talking about.

    • In fact Dibley itself qualifies as a Cloudcuckooland. Regarding the council meetings, Geraldine at one point says: "We're getting a little close to the outskirts of Looney Land here." Later... "Ding ding, everybody off, Looney Land city center."
      • Some context: That last quote is in response to Hugo saying that the old (broken) church window depicted Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount... from a boat. Or, he says, perhaps just a huge boat-shaped cigar.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: David dropped one off-screen when Hugo told him he was in love with Alice. When Hugo relayed the incident to Geraldine, it played out like this:

Geraldine: So what did he say?
Hugo: Well, I can't tell you what he actually said because, because you're the vicar. But let's say a certain word is represented by another word that, that sounds a little like that word, like, uh... like... "duck", for instance. (Beat) He asked me what the duck I was playing at. He said he didn't give a flying duck if I ducking loved Alice ducking Tinker, and if I ducking kissed her again, he'd make sure that I was well and truly ducked.
Geraldine: Well, duck me.

  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: The first Easter special, where everyone has to give up something for Lent. David suggests that Geraldine give up chocolate, which she reluctantly does. Of course, David then basically waves chocolate under Geraldine's nose at the parish council meeting.
  • Coming Out Story: Part of the "Radio Dibley" episode deals with Frank coming out as gay during his live radio show. However, it later turns out that no one bothered to tune in to his show, meaning that only Geraldine knows the truth (it is apparently common knowledge a few episodes later, however).
    • Given that David's reaction to Frank's... rather interesting change of clothes in that same episode makes it quite clear that he's caught on (or at least suspects), it is probable that everyone knows even before the next episode takes place.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Letitia Cropley is known as the "Queen of Cordon Bleugh" for her penchant for making disgusting-looking (not to mention tasting) recipes such as Marmite cake, peanut butter and anchovy sandwiches, tripe salad, chocolate coated cod roe and parsnip brownies, thus making her the Trope Namer. She also bred her own snails, apparently for Bread and Butter Pudding Surprise.
  • Crossover: Dibley did one with Ballykissangel ("Ballykissdibley") for Comic Relief.
  • Curse Cut Short: And He shall be thy fuccour, due to the whole S=F thing.
    • The children carol singers.

Children:(singing) While shepherds watched their flocks by night all sitting on a bank...
Vicar: Oh, God...
Children: An angel who was bored came down and taught them how to w--

    • And in the episode with the 'Great Storm', when Hugo unexpectedly shows up in Geraldine's living room.

Geraldine: OH, FU- crying out loud, Hugo!

Vicar: Oh for Heaven's sake, JUST KISS YOU MORONS!

  • Dirty Old Man: Jim.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Letitia has her moments.
  • The Ditz: Alice. The episode "The Christmas Lunch Incident", which feature's Alice's mother and sister, reveals that it runs in the family.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: The end of every episode, often one of the funniest moments of the night.
  • Doomed New Clothes: Geraldine's wedding dress.
  • Double Standard Rape (Male on Male): One of the jokes that Geraldine tells Alice is the one in which Superman sees Wonder Woman lying naked on a rooftop and attempts to have sex with her in the shortest time possible. Wonder Woman asks what happened, and then the Invisible Man climbs off her and says "I don't know, but it hurt a lot." Alice doesn't laugh, pointing out that this joke besmirches Superman's reputation by implying that he committed homosexual rape on the Invisible Man, which she doesn't consider funny.

Alice: And quite frankly I think you should be ashamed of yourself.
(Alice leaves) (beat)
Geraldine: ...Prude!

  • Early Installment Weirdness: In The Tag of the very first episode, Geraldine tells Alice a joke (a Running Gag that lasts the entire series) and is surprised by how Alice's over-the-top reaction to how hilarious she finds it. Obviously, the writers realized that this type of reaction would not remain funny over the course of the entire show, and from then on Alice never understands any of Geraldine's jokes (until Harry explains it to her in the final episode).
  • Earth Mother: Geraldine is called upon to provide love, sympathy, understanding and support to her flock twenty-four and seven, and dispenses this generously and unstintingly. However, the crankier side of the Earth Mother comes out when she is jilted by her lover, and she barricades herself into the vicarage for several weeks with only a ton of chocolate for company. Who nurtures the Earth Mother when she is hurt?
    • This quite often bordered on having Geraldine become a Mary Sue. She was already on her way there with the first episode, with the whole setup essentially being her swooping in to save these simple, backwater people from themselves (picture White Man's Burden except everyone's the same race). Since she was one of only two people in the entire town with a lick of intelligence and common sense, and the other one was a Jerkass, the show sometimes seemed like Lisa Simpson grew up, got fat, and (re)found religion.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Alice's full name is Alice Springs Tinker. Subverted, in that she completely fails to understand why her middle name might be slightly embarrassing.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The second scene of the first episode (the first parish council meeting) was designed as this for the entire main cast, save Geraldine (who isn't present at this point) and Alice (who isn't on the council. They get their moments a couple of scenes later, at Geraldine's welcoming party.
  • Everything's Better with Chocolate: Geraldine loves chocolate. She has to give up chocolate for Lent, including a gigantic (and delicious looking) bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress
  • "Falling in Love" Montage: Parodied, with the famous puddle scene.
  • Fly At the Camera Ending: The last episode ends with Geraldine flying into the air and towards the camera.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Geraldine and Harry.
  • Good Shepherd: Geraldine.
  • Hidden Depths: In the episode "Songs of Praise", Owen applies for the church choir—and everybody is absolutely stunned when he shows that he has an amazing singing voice.
  • Hot for Preacher: Frequently, and in both directions. Naturally though, most of the guys who are interested in Geraldine are nothing like the guys she's interested in herself.
  • Innocent Innuendo: From "The Easter Bunny":

Alice: (on chocolate fingers) I love sticking them in my mouth, and sucking and sucking 'til all the chocolate comes right off... (she proceeds to do just that, in front of Hugo)

  • Irish Names: One episode features a character named Aoife (pronounced "EE-fa"), and Geraldine is unable to pronounce it properly (or, rather, she barely tries, likely due to the fact that she's jealous of the fact that Aoife is involved with Tristan, whom Geraldine has a crush on). Later, this conversation occurs:

Geraldine: Oh, you Irish, you love your wacky spelling, don't you?
Tristan: You can say that again, her brother's called Brethnick.
Geraldine: Oh, what, it spells Krtnqz?
Aoife: That's the guy!

(advising a young woman) "In my youth, I was what you call a 'corker.' Can I give you a bit of advice? Play the field. Snog everyone--sleep with most! I didn't, and I've been regretting it ever since."

  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: David, although he does have his outright Jerkass tendencies.
    • Jerkass Has a Point: David's portrayed as elitist and assholish for thinking of the residents of Dibley as morons, idiots, and fools... except that the residents of Dibley being morons, idiots, and fools is where 90% of the show's jokes come from. He's also portrayed as arrogant and egotistical for thinking that his family is the heart and brains of the town... except that until Geraldine arrived, he was apparently one of the few people in town with enough common sense to fill a thimble.
  • Killed Off for Real: Letitia.
  • Kissing Cousins: Hugo and Alice, who's revealed -- at least to Geraldine, everyone else apparently already knew -- to be the daughter of his second cousin who was also called David.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: When Geraldine is blindsided by someone who came into the room without knocking.

Geraldine: Oh, fuc...rying out loud!

  • Last Request: As Letitia lies on her deathbed, her dying request to Geraldine was that she take over from her as the Easter Bunny, taking chocolate eggs around the village each Easter. Hilariously, it was subsequently discovered that Letitia had made the same request of every member of the parish council.
  • Les Yay: In-Universe, In "Mery Christmas", first between Geraldine and Alice, and then between Geraldine and model Rachel Hunter. Alice misinterpreting the latter scenario causes the council to briefly think that the two are having a fling, which raises eyebrows.
  • Mirror Routine: In "Celebrity Vicar", this happens as part of a ballet performance. Rather slim prima ballerina Darcy Bussell in a famous cameo is reflected by not-at-all slim Geraldine.
  • Miss Conception: The first episode where Alice is pregnant with her and Hugo's first child, she mentions that she can't be pregnant because "the hamster didn't turn blue." To her credit Geraldine lampshades it by saying, "I don't think I'm familiar with that particular pregnancy test."[1]
  • Mistaken for Gay: Geraldine herself, no thanks to Alice.
  • Mood Whiplash: Letitia's death in "The Easter Bunny".
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Hugo and Geraldine discuss Hugo's father's reaction to the news that he is dating Alice:

Hugo: Well, I can't actually tell you what he said, because... because you're the vicar. But, well, let's say a certain word is represented by another word that sounds like a little like that word, like, um, like duck, for instance. He asked me what the duck I was playing at, said he didn’t give a flying duck if I ducking loved Alice ducking Tinker, and if I ducking kissed her again, he'd make sure I was well and truly ducked.
Geraldine: Well, duck me!

  • Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Frank came out partway through the series as a homosexual after forty years in the closet, and did so over the local radio show set up by the vicar. The only problem? Frank's normally so very, very dull that everyone in town turned off their radios as soon as he came on. He was thrilled with how accepting everyone was the next day.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Hugo and Alice's wedding is interrupted by a woman who storms in with a marriage certificate, insisting that the groom is already married to her. Hugo turns around in shock, at which point she says: "Oops, wrong church!" and slips away again.
  • Only Sane Man: David and Geraldine are well aware that they are the only people in the village with more than two braincells. Before Geraldine arrived, David pretty much anchored the entire village on his own.
  • Overly Long Name: The vicar's full name in the series final is Geraldine Julie Andrews Dick Van Dyke Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Chim Chiminey Chim Chiminey Chim Chim Cher-ee Granger. Unsurprisingly, she's horribly embarrassed by it.
    • An earlier episode reveals her name as Bodicea Geraldine Granger.
  • Really Gets Around: Letitia Cropley, apparently, especially when she was younger.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The documentary, Story of Dibley, reveals that once the writers realised they could get away with a bit of filth, they could use this trope to include absolutely anything they wanted. Owen being openly stated as having sexual relations with animals is just one example of this.
  • Relative Error: Geraldine is intensely jealous when she spots Harry hanging around a lot with another woman, Rosie. It later turns out that Rosie is, in fact, Harry's sister.
  • Running Gag: In the earlier episodes, Owen was often late to the parish council meetings due to either a) problems with his bowels ("It's like the big ride at Alton Towers in my innards."), or b) problems with his animals ("Sorry I'm late. Sheep exploded.").
    • Whenever Geraldine called the Archbishop, she would send her love to the Archbishop's Guy Of The Week.
  • Screaming Birth: Averted when Alice gives birth to baby Geraldine - she's certainly not quiet, but she isn't exactly screaming either.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Geraldine tries to win second place in a chocolate contest. She fails.
    • Not that she isn't very happy with first prize, though.
  • Shipper on Deck: Geraldine for Hugo and Alice, and it takes a fair bit of work.

Houston, we have kiss-off!

  • Sir Swearsalot: Owen.
  • Suddenly Bilingual: Alice and Hugo speak Hebrew for a gag. It is hilarious.
  • Suddenly Sexuality: Frank showed multiple signs of interest in the opposite sex in the early episodes—indeed, it is hinted that he may have even had an illegitimate child—but then he became a lifelong homosexual/bisexual (which isn't specified) for the remainder of the series after a gag in which he comes out on the air with no one listening.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The Reverend Pottle was dead for the singing of The day thou gave us, Lord, has ended.
  • The Swear Jar: In "The Easter Bunny", everyone on the parish council gives up a common habit of theirs, or else put a pound in the "Lent Fines Box" (used to raise money for a movie club) every time they succumb to it. In Owen's case, this means giving up swearing. As soon as Lent is over, he launches into a Cluster F-Bomb to make up for lost time.
  • The Tag: Each episode would end with Geraldine telling Alice a joke, which Alice would then completely misinterpret. One episode broke this trend by having her tell the joke to David Horton, (Alice was on her honeymoon), who did get it and thought it was hilarious.
    • It was hilarious, but the real joke was that Geraldine starts explaining it to him out of habit.
    • Broken again at the end of the last Christmas special, where her new husband explains the joke to Alice... and Alice gets it.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Geraldine and chocolate. She has bars stashed everywhere, including her robes and her Bibles.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Sizzle my sausage!"
  • Verbal Tic: "No no no no...Yes," said by Jim. This caused him to lose in the last round of Deal or No Deal.
    • "Yes yes yes yes," said by Jim's wife.
  • The Vicar: Geraldine is notably a major subversion, shagging the brother of the parish council's chair, and being generally very laid back.
    • Ironically, Dawn French and Richard Curtis developed many character traits after interviewing one of the first real life female vicars.
  • Wedding Day: The episodes "Love and Marriage" and "The Vicar in White".
  • Your Cheating Heart: Geraldine's whirlwind romance with Simon screeches to a halt when he admits that he has another girlfriend.
  1. Apparently it's a traditional pregnancy test in Dibley. The woman urinates on a hamster, and if it turns blue she's pregnant. Make of that what you will.