Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Rev - a triumph?

I thought this TV review from the Evening Standard tonight was telling and hopeful...

...while young men feed the beast in Edinburgh, a comic miracle is taking place on our television screens. Last night was the final episode of Rev, BBC's against-all-the-odds hit about an inner- London vicar. The comedy flowed from the kindly but flawed Rev, played by Tom Hollander. It was like Richard Curtis but with melancholy shadows.
London's curious coalition of C of E congregations — parents trying to get their children into church schools, black gospel, alpha, and the homeless and oddball — forms a tableau of humanity. I'm sure the Bishop of London recognises it, although I am certain he would not compare himself to the worldly and menacing Archdeacon Robert, played by Simon McBurney.

The struggle to be virtuous is the deepest human conflict and Rev is a painfully funny study of ambition, envy and loneliness as well as fellow feeling.

Great novelists from Trollope onwards have found literary inspiration in the church. I've been reading Adam Sisman's biography of Hugh Trevor-Roper, whose popularity rested on his Hitler studies but whose interest was in the drama and contradictions of religion.
Yet in recent years we have abandoned Christianity as worthy of study. Its richness has been reduced to comic one-liners or obscene satire. Secularists have been able to divorce the C of E from the rest of existence. Rev is a lesson that public taste and sensibility has a different centre of gravity to that of opinion formers. The joy of Rev was not just the unexpected size and breadth of its television audience. It was that, at its peak, it beat Big Brother in audience ratings. Television is Risen!


  1. Rev. has been brilliant - managing to cover the heights and depths of ministry in its humour, quirkiness and sadness.

    I have written about it from my perspective as a vicar a few times, because it provides so much to think about! Here's my reflections on its final episode... http://theblogofkevin.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/rev-evenangelical-angst/

  2. I think you're in grave danger Graham of over-egging the series and in serious peril of making a great big omelette of it. It's pathos (not its humour for me (but there I speak and/or write as an committed - for the moment) INFP (hope I've got the right number of brackets around deviations(I think I have))) lies in the sad truth that the final episode was as near the knuckle as life sometimes gets in the C of E. While yearly interviews are so haphazard and so without consequence we will continue to make the same old mistakes and provide fodder for every (un)inspiring comedy scriptwriter... didn't laugh at all at the last episode. Call me a misery. On the other hand, don't you may not know where it'll lead!

  3. I've been loving the series - especially the somewhat veiled take-off of HTB in episode 2!


St Mellitus - a Story of Redemption

This is the text of a sermon preached at St Paul's Cathedral on Thursday 2nd May 2019, when  the  Cathedral was celebrating St Mellitus...