The BBC has rallied to the defence of the Vicar of Dibley after viewers kicked up a fuss about a scene inspired by Black Lives Matter – which hasn’t even aired yet.
The first of three new 10-minute Christmas special episodes of the cult classic was screened on Monday night, but was on the receiving end of a backlash from viewers.
It follows reports that the Vicar of Dibley will take a knee and deliver a sermon about Black Lives Matter in an upcoming episode.
The vicar will acknowledge that Dibley, a fictional rural village in Oxfordshire, could certainly be more diverse, saying: “I don’t think it matters where you’re from. I think it matters that you do something about it because Jesus would, wouldn’t he?”
She continues: “Until all lives matter the same, we are doing something very wrong.”
“We need to focus on justice for a huge chunk of our countrymen and women who seem to have a very bad, weird deal from the day they’re born.”
She then makes a reference to taking down old notices in the village, which could be a nod to taking down statues with links to slavery, saying: “I think that in Dibley perhaps we should think about taking down some of these old notices like this and that and perhaps we should put up one like this instead.”
She then puts a home-made Black Lives Matter poster to the church noticeboard before taking the knee in the style of NFL footballers in the US.
Many people have supported the moves, but others were less happy.
Laurence Fox was – predictably – one of the first to respond, tweeting that the BBC’s “virtuous false enlightenment allows them to ignore the charter to educate the great unwashed”.
But the BBC has backed its show, saying that Dawn French’s character Geraldine will be “processing” the year’s most topical events in an “outspoke, high-spirited way”.
A BBC spokesperson said: “In The Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown, Geraldine shares with her congregation her take on some of the key stories of 2020, including clapping for the NHS, the Black Lives Matter movement, lockdown, and school exams being cancelled.
“She is a much-loved and well-established comic character and will be seen processing the year’s events in her familiar outspoken and high-spirited way.”