Furious Vicar of Dibley fans switched off last night as they slammed the ‘lecturing’ BBC for using comedy to promote ‘political’ causes over a scene where Dawn French takes the knee for Black Lives Matter.
Viewers criticised series writer Richard Curtis for using a comedy show to promote a ‘Woke’ agenda, with one tweeting: ‘I’m sick and tired of being lectured every time I turn on the TV and ultimately it will achieve nothing.’
Another Twitter user, James Stafford, added: ‘It’s meant to be a comedy. People need to stop bringing #BlackLivesMatter into everything. Bore off.’
The Vicar of Dibley last night included a scene where Dawn French kneeled in support of Black Lives Matter
Viewers criticised series writer Richard Curtis for using a comedy show to promote ‘Woke’ causes
The move has sparked fears about a potential lack of impartiality on the programme, amid wider concerns about the political aims of those behind the BLM campaign.
The sketch, which aired yesterday, saw Miss French’s character Reverend Geraldine Kennedy address the killing of George Floyd and the issue of racism.
She tells the audience she was been thinking about ‘this Black Lives Matter thing’ and the ‘horror show’ of the killing of George Floyd.
After giving a short speech about the issue, her character is seen tearing down some old notices and pinning a home Black Lives Matter poster to the church noticeboard before taking the knee.
The BBC received more than a 100 complaints about the scene even before it aired. MailOnline has asked the BBC for the latest complaint figures.
Others took to Twitter to vent their frustration, with one critic writing: ‘Leave comedy & family programmes alone. This is neither the time nor the place to bleat politics. Will not be watching.’
Another viewer wrote: ‘Regardless of the content, when entertainment turns into a lecture it’s the off button from me.’
However, some people defended the scene.
The scene has sparked fears about a potential lack of impartiality on the programme, amid wider concerns about the political aims of those behind the BLM campaign, although some praised it
Twitter user Sally Iddon wrote: ‘No-one argues about Blackadder Goes Forth’s haunting last moment, it doesn’t take away any of the humour, it just shows a bit of heart and humanity…..good for Vicar Of Dibley!’
And a second fan added: ‘The very first episode of Vicar of Dibley dealt with women becoming vicars. It always dealt with things more than comedy.’
The BBC has now released a statement backing the programme.
It said: ‘We received complaints that an upcoming episode will reference the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘In The Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown, Geraldine shares with her congregation her take on some of the key stories of 2020, including clapping for the NHS, the Black Lives Matter movement, lockdown, and school exams being cancelled.
‘She is a much-loved and well-established comic character and will be seen processing this year’s events in her familiar outspoken and high-spirited way.’ In an apparent response to online criticism about the scene earlier this week, Miss French, 63, tweeted: ‘A lovely calm day, full of humanity, compassion and support all round…’
She later clarified in the comments that she was being ‘a tad ironic’.
The three episodes, each of which sees the vicar delivering monthly sermons via Zoom, have been written by co-creators of the show Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer.
The scene shows the vicar, Geraldine, tearing down parish notices and putting up a Black Lives Matter one instead
A BBC spokesman previously said: ‘Audiences understand the difference between news and comedy content, and the sermons do not breach the BBC’s impartiality guidelines.’
The scene sees 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.’
The BBC was forced to defend the ‘much-loved’ vicar after viewers slammed the first Christmas short ‘an abomination’
The actor Laurence Fox criticised the scene last week after it was covered in media reports
She then walks to the parish noticeboard and tears down two posters, one about decimalisation and the other about a missing button.
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 last week, 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.’