Heretical BBC comedy is ‘rather good’ says Rowan Williams

An adult BBC Two comedy about an inner city liberal vicar is “really rather good”, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Watch a behind the scenes film on Rev

Rowan Williams said the show, “Rev”, reveals “something about the continuing commitment of the church to run down and challenging areas” as well as depicting someone who “prays honestly”.

The comedy was co-created by James Wood who said the word “heretical” best sums up the six-part series, the last episode of which is due to air tonight.


The show has been criticised by the Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent, who described it as “utterly ghastly”.

He said: “It’s a load of wet liberals working out their angst about CofE and not being very funny.”

Co-creator James Wood told the Guardian: “We’ve been getting messages that some vicars find it too painful to watch, which is sort of gratifying.”


The show is believed to have attracted audiences of two million every week but it is not known whether there will be a second series.

The sitcom is set in a decaying, near-empty inner city London church attended by a handful of eccentric oddballs and senior citizens.

Its liberal vicar, Adam Smallbone, protects his dwindling flock from ‘bigoted evangelical hypocrites’ and middle-class families who are trying to get their kids into the popular church school.


A manipulative archdeacon tours London in a taxi cab wearing Gestapo-like leather gloves, keeping a sharp managerial eye over Smallbone and his tiny congregation.

Episodes have included visits to lap dancing clubs and allowing Muslim groups to use the church for Islamic prayer classes.

A BBC press pack claims the sitcom, “Rev”, is “contemporary”, “heavily researched” and it “lifts the lid on how the modern Church actually functions and what life is really like in a dog collar.”

It was co-created by James Wood and Tom Hollander, who also plays the lead role as the vicar. Tom Hollander said: “we’re trying to depict a real world”.

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