Rev: A Classic Sitcom in the Making
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Rev: A Classic Sitcom in the Making

My favourite TV series at the moment is Rev., a BBC sitcom about a Church of England vicar of an inner-city London church. Retunring to the screen last week for its second series, Rev. is a gem among recent British comedies.

My favourite TV series at the moment is Rev., a BBC sitcom about a Church of England vicar of an inner-city London church.  Retunring to the screen last week for its second series, Rev. is a gem among recent British comedies.

The excellent British actor Tom Hollander plays the Reverend Adam Smallbone, an Anglican vicar who has recently moved from a small rural parish to the church of St Saviour in the Marshes in East London. Unable to turn anyone away, Adam is beleaguered by moral challenges as he balances the needs his disparate parishioners with the demands of social climbers using him to get their children into church schools.

Adam has the dubious support of pious lay reader Nigel, who believes he should be running the church, and the sinister Archdeacon Robert, who ruthlessly pressures Adam to increase the congregation and church income and seems immune to more spiritual concerns. Parishioners include Colin, an unemployable lost soul, and Adoha, a ‘priest-chaser’ infatuated with the clergy.

In conceiving the character of a modern, inner city vicar, Tom Hollander said, "We wanted to define ourselves in opposition to the cliché of a country vicar, partly because we wanted to depict England as it is now, rather than having a sort of bucolic-y, over the hills and far away, bird-tweeting England – we wanted the complications of the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic inner-city, where everything is much harder."

As an architectural historian, I have a particular interest in the series. The church scenes are filmed at St Leonard's Church in Shoreditch, east London. This church was designed in the Palladian style by George Dance the Elder in 1736-40. Principal features are the giant four columned Tuscan portico on the frontage and the soaring steeple, which is an imitation of Christopher Wren's magnificent steeple on St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside. Inside, the entablature is supported by giant Doric columns. St Leonard's is mentioned in the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons: "When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch".

Rev. is a highly-acclaimed series. It won the South Bank Award for best comedy in 2011 and was nominated for the Royal Television Society Programme Awards for best scripted comedy and best comedy performance (Hollander). The series also won best sitcom at the 2011 British Academy Television Awards.

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Comments (6)

Excellent review, what channel is this show on?..voted

Ranked #1 in Popular Culture

Thanks, Francina. It's on BBC2, but you should be able to see it online via BBC iPlayer.

Ranked #10 in Popular Culture

Beautiful description of the sitcom connecting to St. Leonard's Church of Shoreditch.

Ranked #1 in Popular Culture

Thanks, Ron.

interesting, thanks

I've not had the chance to see this show yet, but might just get round to it this weekend - isn't the BBC Iplayer awesome. ;)

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