I have to declare an interest here. I'm not involved in the show. But I do go to church. In fact, I'm on my local PCC. I like the Bible and all that. (In fact, I have a degree in Theology) And as a result of all this, I wasn't expecting to like Rev, the new comedy on BBC2 starring Tom Hollander and Olivia Colman. Usually, when sitcoms or TV shows in general are made about things you know about, you can bet they're get some basic things wrong and you'll never be able to forgive them.
I had heard that they had done their research, but I still wasn't convinced it would have the ring of truth about it - until I watched it. I was pleasantly surprised. And I believed it.
There are a number of good things to be said about Rev - and I'll say some of them in future postings. And one or two here. I was interested to read that almost no reviewer was prepared to say them. Most reviews I read said 'This seems okay' or that it could be a grower. I was saddened by a review in the Independent that said that you have to be very careful about making up your mind on a sitcom too early; not because sitcoms take time to appreciate, but because you don't want to look like an idiot in the future if you make up your mind too quickly, like his mate who slagged off Father Ted after one show. Most reviews for Rev that I've seen centre around spoiling the plot for you by telling you what happens, and whether it would happen in real life, rather than having a stab at why the show is actually rather good.
So here's the reason I'm most pleased with Rev. Our vicar is a believer. He really does believe in God. This sounds daft but it must have been so easy to have created an angry vicar who resents his life situation and wishes he'd never become a vicar in the first place. Or you have a type who would never have become a vicar in the first place. Instead, we have a vicar who wants to do the right thing, but the right thing isn't immediately obvious. Does he shunt some locals' wedding to please the local headmistress so the local MP can get his son into the school having made a hefty donation to fix the broken window? How does he know what to do? He takes a moment to himself in the church to think it through - it wasn't a funny scene, but it was an important one. He kind of prays. And it's not naff. It works. I was pleased.
There's another scene where he tenderly explains why he's not too worried about Richard Dawkins - and what he says has a ring of truth to it, and isn't a simplistic answer that makes us think less of him. Ultimately, I believe in Rev Adam Smallbone. I believe he is a vicar, with a real faith, albeit fuzzy at times. And I believe that this job of being vicar is not really the job he signed up to do. He finds himself being asked to do things - rather than being a pastor. And he doesn't quite know how to move forward. (The only bit I don't believe is telling those builders to f**k off. But I also don't belive builders would just openly laugh at a vicar like that - even if that bit is based on a true story).
The show reminded me of Lead Balloon. In fact, I preferred it to Lead Balloon, since I never really believed Jack Dee's character. But I mustn't say too much more in case the rest of the series isn't any good and I look like an idiot...