Light up the incense – Rev is back. The BBC2 comedy series starring Tom Hollander as inner city vicar Adam Smallbone will be returning soon for a third series, with a few changes since it last aired in 2012.
Firstly his wife, played by Broadchurch’s Olivia Colman, was pregnant at the last series so unless she experiences a 24 month gestation will have given birth by the time series three starts airing, probably next month.
The series is due to air over the Easter period. In fact, I am reliably informed that the new series will explore a number of quite serous topics. One of them is expected to be gay marriage.
In addition, actor and director Dexter Fletcher and Fonejacker star Kayvan Novak will join the cast as an award-winning modern artist and local Imam respectively, with Simon McBurney and Miles Jupp and Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville (as Adam’s arch rival Roland Wise) are among other returning regulars.
Rev series 3 will also see Area Dean and Diocesan Secretary (Vicki Pepperdine and Joanna Scanlan) become regular characters.
Whatever happens, I have no doubt it will be very funny, teasing its laughs from the very serious side of inner city vicaring.
This is a comedy which rewrote the rulebook about depicting clergy on the small screen. Instead of the twittish tea-swilling clergymen of the kind played by Derek Nimmo in 1960s series All Gas and Gaiters, Hollander’s character felt like a real person.
No wonder the first series attracted the praise of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. He loved it for revealing “something about the continuing commitment of the church to run-down and challenging areas” as well as depicting someone who “prays honestly”.
Hollander plays him as gentle and funny, with a vulnerability and an occasional steeliness that is both winning and highly plausible. He could easily have been played by a comedian for more obvious laughs, but Hollander’s quieter, more introspective approach suits a part which is tender, vulnerable and bittersweet.
And I could say I know of what I speak. I grew up in a vicarage and have never seen the life of the church done with more skill, honesty and thought.
So peal the bells and remember that Rev will be back very soon. And I for one can’t wait.