More TV Vicar?

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From the Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath to the Vicar of Dibley to “Rev” Adam Smallbone: television’s version of clergy has often served as both a barometer of public attitudes to religion as well as a reflection of the challenges facing the Church. In this session produced by the Sandford St Martin Trust for the 2015 Church and Media Conference, two TV scriptwriters, an actor and a curate-cum-critic reflect on how one of British entertainment’s best-loved tropes has evolved over the years and discuss how this has reflected important issues such the role of women in the church, secularisation, the sexuality of clerics and the Church’s response to scandal.

The panel:

James Cary (Chair): James Cary is a comedy writer for BBC TV and Radio. His latest series is Bluestone 42 - featuring the feisty Padre Mary Greenstock as a member of a bomb disposal team working in Afghanistan- for BBC3.  He has worked on the BBC’s award-winning sitcom, Miranda and co-wrote Miranda Hart’s Jokeshop for BBC Radio 2. His radio credits include four series ofAnother Case of Milton Jones with, er, Milton Jones for BBC Radio 4.

Daisy Coulam: Having previously scripted Eastenders and Death In Paradise, Daisy Coulam is the screenwriter for ITV’s popular Grantchester series.  Adapted from the books ‘The Grantchester Mysteries’ by author James Runcie, the crime series is set in the 1950s and features the Cambridgeshire clergyman, Sidney Chambers, who finds himself investigating a serious of mysterious wrongdoings in the small village of Grantchester.   Grantchester was the winner of the 2015 Sandford St Martin/Radio Times Faith Award.

Frank Williams: Frank Williams is one of the UK’s best known TV vicars having played the part of Reverend Timothy Farthing in Dad’s Army from 1969 to 1977. Frank also served 3 terms as a member of the General Synod of the Church of England between 1985 and 2000.

Bryony Taylor: Bryony Taylor is a curate in the Diocese of Durham, the creator of a number of popular blogs including the humour site and the author of “More TV Vicar? Christians on the Telly: The Good the Bad and the Quirky” (whose title we shamelessly borrowed for this session.) She is a self-confessed telly addict.


The panel discussed some of the most popular and well-known TV depictions of clergy.  Click below to watch some of the programmes or clips used to illustrate the session:

All Gas and Gaiters

Dad’s Army



Bluestone 42

Father Ted

You can listen to an edited version of the panel discussion here or read a full transcript of the session.

Bryony Taylor has written a blog on the subject.