The Vicar of Dibley is one of those iconic pieces of UK culture, led by Dawn French and featuring a stunning cast of comedy greats. Even people who have never seen the show will have seen Geraldine Granger dive into an oversized puddle for the viewing pleasure of the nation. It’s one of those brief phenomena that never feels totally dated and is intensely watchable.
It’s my favourite TV show of all time. And these are what I consider the ten best moments of the whole show. On with the list!
10. The Iconic Puddle Jump
Yeah, the puddle is up here at number 10. While probably the most iconic moment of the entire show, so much so that it was repeated in the Vicar Gets Married duology of episodes, there are better moments for me. Personally, it just feels a little too detached from reality, and the moments that are more realistic and emotional and viscerally funny top it easily. The video below shows the whole context of the scene, featuring a wonderful nod to Lucozade and a happy, smitten Vicar.
9. An Exasperated Cupid
Series 2 of Vicar of Dibley follows the relationship of Dibley residents Alice Tinker and Hugo ‘Hotdog’ Horton, and it seems like without the vicar’s intervention it almost wouldn’t have happened! She gets them together and meddles oh so excellently, but their nerves get the better of them when it comes time to confront each other with their emotions – causing the most wonderful outburst from our favourite holy lady.
Unfortunately this is the only entry on this list I cannot a) find a YouTube video for or b) upload a video for thanks to automatic copyright claims. I would so strongly recommend watching the episode, which is Series 2 Episode 1: ‘Engagement’.
8. Is it butter or isn’t it, Alice?
A simple episode opener gave us one of the most impressive monologues courtesy of Alice Tinker’s cloudcuckoolander status. Please, just watch this one.
7. The Mirror
In quite a rollercoaster of an episode, Celebrity Vicar gives us a glimpse of what happens to a small village when their (then salaciously) female vicar becomes famous. It’s not good. As a last resort, Geraldine recruits a celebrity acquaintance to win over the hearts of the villagers she forgot about on her meteoric rise to stardom. It’s… certainly something to witness. And it’s one of the other most iconic scenes of the entire show.
6. A Marriage of Morons
It cannot be understated how much Alice and Hugo are made for each other. They are a very positive depiction of pure and unabashed love, and their wedding is quite the event. Featuring an uninvited guest, Geraldine’s bleach-centric attempt to seduce a certain Horton brother, and a truly unique exchanging of vows, here is the real wedding of the century:
5. A Turbulent Rehearsal
Christmas episodes feature some of the most iconic moments of this show’s history. Overall, I would easily declare ‘Winter’ my favourite episode of The Vicar of Dibley. Easily. Between hilarious nativity rehearsal scenes, unexpected Hebrew, a birth and Geraldine completely in her element as a director, the episode goes from strength to strength in each scene. It’s a tour de force of comedy. If you watch one episode of this show, watch this one.
The scene that most sticks out to me is Geraldine’s rehearsal with Owen, Frank and Jim. She’s definitely the most theatrical in the room, and she quickly loses her temper with the boys, delivering a line that makes me laugh so hard no matter what.
4. It Should’ve Been Geraldine
Let’s be honest, it would be quite easy for Richard Armitage to sweep any of us off our feet, and this happens to Geraldine quite easily with the suave character of Harry, a new townie recently moved into Dibley. The episodes introducing him have some wonderful scenes including a fantastic call-back to the legendary “Will you marry me?” way back in series 1.
This dream sequence linked below however, is truly wonderful. Not only is it a masterwork of physical comedy, the lipsyncing efforts of both vicars in the scene could put many drag queens to shame.
Another Christmas repast, the episode where Geraldine is too nice to refuse her parishioners’ wishes lands her four Christmas dinner invitations that she’s totally unable to avoid.
On the second of these dinners, she finds herself challenged to a sprout-eating contest and on behalf of Hugo’s puppy-like resignation she accepts. Her performance is another example of how expertly Dawn French can provoke earth-shattering belly laughs with just her facial expressions.
2. Frank’s Coming Out
LGBT+ representation is not something you’d go into The Vicar of Dibley expecting – it’s a show with a religious bent with a cast of mostly quite old men. Thus, it’s quite a shock when Frank Pickle, resident bore, uses the temporary Dibley radio show to come out.
This scene sticks with me so closely for the obvious reasons, but also because it’s just so damn funny. Geraldine’s background antics are great, and there is something so perfectly beautiful about Frank’s idea of an exciting breakfast – a line quoted so much in my youth for how bemusing it is.
1. The Window
The series 1 episode ‘The Window and the Weather’ follows the journey of Dibley’s parish council dealing with the smashing of the church’s stained glass window after a nasty storm. It’s another one of those episodes full of really memorable moments (“Samantha Fox, miss! My dad she’s the sexiest bird he’s ever seen! He’d like to give her one miss!”) and one that sticks out to me is Geraldine bleeding one of David’s tory cronies dry for window funding.
Trumping that, however, is the reveal of the window itself. Motivated by an emotional news item about an earthquake, Geraldine decides to get the church a plain window and donate the rest of the money. It’s a really charming and touching moment that provides a perfect ending to a really funny episode. The Vicar of Dibley could have capitalised on the shock value of having a female member of the clergy, but it managed instead to be a genuinely clever, hilarious piece of comedy history with so much heart and personality that it will be remembered so fondly for as long as it is remembered.
No doubt you have your own strong feelings about what should have made the list, or maybe even the order of the list and I want nothing more than to discuss at length the strengths of the show. Despite that, I will just put here some honourable mentions – if I put every scene that I loved in this list it would probably just be a retelling of the entire show.
It’f a fhort gag but it’s so fucking good – Alice almoft fwearing during Fongs of Praife. Abfolutely infpired.
Iconic moments you ask? Look no further than Kylie Bloody Minogue turning up just at the right time to open the Dibley fête. Her back and forth with Geraldine backstage is wonderful.
Dibley is a show that makes you laugh in spades but it also has a master of pathos which is just so jarring in a very effective way. Letitia Cropley’s death is one of those one-two strikes that really takes your breath away in how sudden it happens – the resolution of that episode (‘The Easter Bunny’) is made so much more satisfying thanks to it. And it would be remiss not to mention the Make Poverty History segment of 2005’s New Year’s special – it brings tears to my eyes every time.
And to cap it all off, here’s a video that just speaks so much nostalgia, heart and happiness into me:
Thanks to Rhys Jenkins for collaborating on this list ~