The BBC has defended the Vicar of Dibley after viewers branded the first of three Christmas special episodes an ‘abomination’.
The criticism of the first episode, which aired on Monday, comes ahead of the controversial Black Lives Matter episode set to be released next week.
The show will see Dawn French, 63, take the knee – a popular gesture taken by BLM supporters – and deliver a sermon about the movement as she plays Reverend Geraldine Granger in the hit TV show.
The first of the Christmas episodes aired on Monday and was branded ‘unfunny’ by one viewer and an ‘abomination’ by another.
It depicts the Vicar of Dibley on a series of Zoom calls. In one she can be seen reading out the village notices and trying to remain calm when the doorbell rings, interrupting her message of peace.
In another she tries to avoid answering an awkward question posed by school children by pretending her screen has frozen.
One viewer wrote on Twitter: ‘Still waiting for the bit where I’m supposed to laugh #vicarofdibley That was an abomination. Yet another reason to @DefundBBC.’
But the BBC has been forced to defend the ‘much-loved’ vicar after viewers slammed the first Christmas short ‘an abomination’
Another posted: ‘I was looking forward to the Vicar of Dibley, an escapism from the real world, unfortunately all they did was show us zoom calls and make us realise how dull it is at the moment’.
But the BBC has been forced to defend the ‘much-loved’ vicar after the Monday episode and ahead of the second short featuring the controversial scene next week.
They said scenes in the 10-minute Christmas special episodes of the sitcom portray the Reverend’s take on the events of the past 12 months.
Dawn French, 63, will take the knee and deliver a sermon about the movement in the next episode as she plays Reverend Geraldine Granger in the hit TV show
A BBC spokesperson said: ‘The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Sermons reflects on the events of 2020 including clapping for the NHS, Black Lives Matter and school exams being cancelled amongst others.
‘Geraldine is a well-established fictional character of a much loved comedy who gives her take on the key moments of the year.
‘Audiences understand the difference between news and comedy content, and the sermons do not breach the BBC’s impartiality guidelines.’
The BBC has come under fire for the controversial story line as many people slammed the broadcaster for promoting a political cause and failing to remain impartial.
The scene in question, which features in one of three short lockdown specials, will see the vicar address the killing of George Floyd and the broader issue of racism
The scene, which airs next week, will see Geraldine speak about the murder of George Floyd by American police officers and racism as a wider issue.
The controversial sketch begins with her being filmed by parishioner and farmer Owen Newitt as she emerges from her home after lockdown.
She tells the audience she has been preoccupied with the ‘horror show’ of Mr Floyd’s death and what she describes as ‘this Black Lives Matter thing’.
Mr Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed in May while being arrested by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sparking anti-racism protests around the world.
In the sketch, the vicar admits that Dibley, the fictional village in Oxfordshire where the show is set, is ‘not the most diverse community’.
She continues: ‘But I don’t think it matters where you are from. I think it matters that you do something about it, because Jesus would, wouldn’t he?
‘And, listen, I am aware all lives matter, obviously, but until all lives matter the same we are doing something very wrong. So I think we need to focus on justice for a huge chunk of our countrymen and women who seem to have a very bad, weird deal from the day they are born.’
She then walks to the parish noticeboard and tears down two posters, one about decimalisation and the other about a missing button.
This viewer criticised the first episode aired on Monday for not living up to his expectations
She says: ‘I think that in Dibley perhaps we should think about taking down some of these old notices like this and that, and perhaps we should put up one like this instead.’
After replacing them with a home-made Black Lives Matter poster, she takes the knee.
The scene strikes a more serious tone than the rest of the episode, in which she discusses online quizzes and alcohol consumption.
Wading into the row, Actor Lawrence Fox slammed the BBC’s ‘virtuous false enlightenment’.
He wrote: ‘A sermon from the high altar of the church of moral superiority, the BBC. This virtuous false enlightenment allows them to ignore the charter to educate the great unwashed. Do your job! #DefundTheBBC.’
Neil Hamilton also posted: ‘The BBC are done. Time to take the axe. #DefundTheBBC.’
Another Twitter user wrote: ‘The Vicar of Dibley takes the knee, so let’s #DefundTheBBC.’