A British Sitcom, starring Dawn French as Geraldine Granger. Following the Ordination of Women into the Church of England, Geraldine replaces the old archetypal vicar in the sleepy and quirky country village of Dibley. The village has to get used to the laid back "babe with a bob cut and a magnificent bosom" being their new vicar, while Geraldine herself has to cope with a village full of lunatics and inbreds, as well as the corrupt machinations of councillor David Horton. Hilarity, as they say, ensues.The show ran from 1994 to 2007, and has been seen resurfacing for sketches or charity appeals. It was released at approximately the time of female ordination.Came third in Britain's Best Sitcom.
All Women Are Lustful: Geraldine, who salivates at every attractive man she comes across; Letitia, who is described as a "nymphomaniac lurking in the hedgerows", and finally Alice, who cannot keep her hands off of Hugo once the two of them finally get together.
Belligerent Sexual Tension: Geraldine and David through much of the series, though it's decidedly one-sided. David was so used to arguing with people that he misinterpreted Geraldine's resistance to him as genuine affection. She does care about him in a weird way, just not in that way.
Jim: [on the topic of his radio show, "The Moral Maze] Is sex with poodles always wrong?
Geraldine: And have you found someone to argue both sides of that issue?
Owen: He certainly has!
Big Beautiful Woman: The village certainly seems to think Geraldine is, with constant references to her "lovely arse."
Big Damn Kiss: Between Alice and Hugo, which lasts for over four hours.
Big Eater: While Dawn French is certainly not skinny, the degree with which she is occasionally shown to binge on chocolate (and occasionally other foodstuffs, such as icecream) would kill an entire team of sumo wrestlers. An entire human-sized freezer of Haagen-Daas in one sitting is beyond the appetites of most people, but not Geraldine.
And the binge to top them all: the Christmas lunches. Four of them. All Christmas dinner sized.
Alice initially wants a wedding dress with all the different Doctors on it. By the time of Geraldine's wedding, Alice is the maid of honor dressed as David Tennant's incarnation of the Doctor, complete with Dalek bridesmaids.
In "The Christmas Lunch Incident", one-shot character Tristran Campbell, whom Geraldine has a crush on, comes back to ask her to marry him. She mistakes this as a proposal, but it is actually a request to officiate over Tristram's wedding to Aoife. Then, in "The Handsome Stranger", Harry asks Geraldine to marry him. This time, Geraldine mistakes it as another request to preside over a wedding, but it is actually a marriage proposal - which she doesn't realize until Harry replies with Geraldine's name when she asks who the bride-to-be is.
British Brevity: Twenty episodes and five specials were made. Over nineteen years.
This adds up to about thirteen and a half hours total, including every episode and special.
Buxom Is Better: Just as many references to Geraldine's ample bosom are made as to her "lovely arse" by both Geraldine herself and her parishioners, as she found out when a few students have mentioned their fathers wanting to "give her one".
Calling the Old Man Out: When David tells Hugo that, if he marries Alice, then "you will no longer be welcome in this house, you will no longer be my son, and as this will attests, you will have nothing!" Hugo actually stands up to David (a rare feat for him), shoves the will back at him, and says, respectfully but coldly, "On the contrary, sir, I shall have everything in the world that I desire." In later episodes, it seems David was so surprised by this he gave up.
The Cassandra: David during the episode Celebrity Vicar, when Geraldine temporarily gave up her status as Dibley's other Only Sane Man in believing that her moment in the media spotlight would end well. David insists throughout the episode (to the disbelief of everyone else) that she's headed for disaster. He's right, and the entire council are humiliated by the tabloid press.
Chekhov's Gun: See Curse Cut Short below — the joke is set up subtly earlier on when the parish council receives an anonymous donation of an original King James Version. It is then enhanced when David discusses the writing style with Ruth when they see it on the gravestones. Then Alice steps up to the pulpit...
Also played in Love and Marriage where it is planted early on that there are two David Hortons as part of a minor joke and forgotten about. Much later Geraldine is caused much trauma when she finds out Alice's father is David Horton, so confides this in Owen, who responds brilliantly (on many levels) "Yes, what's the problem?"
Clean Pretty Childbirth: The Christmas episode is pretty bad for this: Alice gives birth in the manger while playing Mary, and the kid that results comes out sparkling clean and almost a year old. She gets a little sweaty in the process.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The vast majority of the village have a strange detachment from reality, but Alice Tinker especially suffers from this (almost bordering on The Ditz territory).
Alice: You know that stuff they're selling now at the local shop?
Geraldine: Which stuff?
Alice: I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.
Geraldine: Oh, yes.
Alice: Well, I can't believe it's not butter.
Geraldine: Yeah, well I believe that is the idea, yeah.
Alice: Then yesterday, I went to Crookenden and I bought this other stuff, like a sort of home-brand, you know?
Alice: And you know, I can't believe it's not I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
Geraldine: Mmm. I'm losing you now.
Alice: Well, you know I Can't Believe It's Not Butter?
Geraldine: Yeah, you think it is butter.
Alice: No no, I mean you know the stuff that I can't believe is not butter is called I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.
Geraldine: Probably, yeah, yeah.
Alice: Well I can't believe the stuff that is not I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is not I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and I can't believe that both I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and the stuff that I can't believe is not I Can't Believe It's Not Butter are both, in fact, not butter. And I believe they both might be butter, in a cunning disguise. And in fact there's a lot more butter around than we all thought there was.
Geraldine: Yeah. You see, I don't know what you're talking about.
In fact Dibley itself qualifies as a Cloud Cuckoo Land. Regarding the council meetings, Geraldine at one point says: "We're getting a little close to the outskirts of Looney Land here." Later... "Ding ding, everybody off, Looney Land city center."
Some context: That last quote is in response to Hugo saying that the old (broken) church window depicted Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount... from a boat. Or, he says, perhaps just a huge boat-shaped cigar.
Cluster F-Bomb: David dropped one off-screen when Hugo told him he was in love with Alice. When Hugo relayed the incident to Geraldine, it played out like this:
Geraldine: So what did he say? Hugo: Well, I can't tell you what he actually said because, because you're the vicar. But let's say a certain word is represented by another word that, that sounds a little like that word, like, uh... like... "duck," for instance. (beat) He asked me what the duck I was playing at. He said he didn't give a flying duck if I ducking loved Alice ducking Tinker, and if I ducking kissed her again, he'd make sure that I was well and truly ducked. Geraldine: Well, duck me.
Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: The first Easter special, where everyone has to give up something for Lent. David suggests that Geraldine give up chocolate, which she reluctantly does. Of course, David then basically waves chocolate under Geraldine's nose at the parish council meeting.
Coming-Out Story: Part of the "Radio Dibley" episode deals with Frank coming out as gay during his live radio show. However, it later turns out that no one bothered to tune in to his show, meaning that only Geraldine knows the truth (it is apparently common knowledge a few episodes later, however).
Given that David's reaction to Frank's...rather interesting change of clothes in that same episode makes it quite clear that he's caught on (or at least suspects), it is probable that everyone knows even before the next episode takes place.
Cordon Bleugh Chef: Letitia Cropley is known as the "Queen of Cordon Bleugh" for her penchant for making disgusting-looking (not to mention tasting) recipes such as Marmite cake, peanut butter and anchovy sandwiches, tripe salad, chocolate coated cod roe and parsnip brownies, thus making her the Trope Namer. She also bred her own snails, apparently for Bread and Butter Pudding Surprise.
Couch Gag: Most of the episodes feature some of the funny things happening around Dibley just after the theme song and opening credits end, but before the episode proper. And then there's the joke after the ending credits, which on one occasion was shown before the opening credits.
Crazy-Prepared: Alice and Hugo, wanting to play Joseph and Mary in the Nativity play, met with objection from Geraldine on the grounds that A. Hugo wasn't a carpenter and B. neither of them spoke Hebrew. Hugo then brings in some furniture he had made earlier, and both he and Alice then proceed to speak Hebrew to each other and Geraldine.
The Ditz: Alice. The episode "The Christmas Lunch Incident", which feature's Alice's mother and sister, reveals that it runs in the family.
Don't Explain the Joke: The end of every episode, often one of the funniest moments of the night. Geraldine tells Alice a joke. Alice doesn't get it and has to have it explained (or starts picking it apart). Lampshaded when, after Hugo and Alice's wedding, she tells the joke to David instead, he gets it immediately and bursts out laughing, then catches her when she starts to explain it out of habit.
Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: One of the jokes that Geraldine tells Alice is the one in which Superman sees Wonder Woman lying naked on a rooftop and attempts to have sex with her in the shortest time possible. Wonder Woman asks what happened, and then the Invisible Man climbs off her and says "I don't know, but it hurt a lot." Alice doesn't laugh, pointing out that this joke besmirches Superman's reputation by implying that he committed homosexual rape on the Invisible Man, which she doesn't consider funny.
Alice: And quite frankly I think you should be ashamed of yourself. (Alice leaves) (beat) Geraldine: ...Prude!
Early-Installment Weirdness: In The Tag of the very first episode Geraldine tells Alice a joke (a Running Gag that lasts the entire series) and is surprised by how Alice's over-the-top reaction to how hilarious she finds it. Obviously the writers realized that this type of reaction would not remain funny over the course of the entire show, and from then on Alice never understands any of Geraldine's jokes (until Harry explains it to her in the final episode).
To clarify slightly, Alice does "get" quite a few of the jokes over the series, it's just that it is only the first episode where she "gets" it straight away. Even in the last episode it took some explaining for her to understand it.
Earth Mother: Geraldine is called upon to provide love, sympathy, understanding and support to her flock twenty-four and seven, and dispenses this generously and unstintingly. However, the crankier side of the Earth Mother comes out when she is jilted by her lover, and she barricades herself into the vicarage for several weeks with only a ton of chocolate for company. Who nurtures the Earth Mother when she is hurt? Alice does.
Embarrassing Middle Name: Alice's full name is Alice Springs Tinker. Subverted, in that she completely fails to understand why her middle name might be slightly embarrassing.
She names her baby Tinky-Winky. Springs is nothing.
Erotic Eating: Alice sure can work a chocolate finger, much to Hugo's shock/delight.
Establishing Character Moment: The second scene of the first episode (the first parish council meeting) was designed as this for the entire main cast, save Geraldine (who isn't present at this point) and Alice (who isn't on the council. They get their moments a couple of scenes later, at Geraldine's welcoming party.
Fairytale Wedding Dress: Wildly subverted with Alice's ridiculous suggestions/designs, including one made out of linoleum, one with a train that is literally a train (Thomas the Tank Engine, specifically), and one with lots of hearts with a different Doctor Who in each one. She finally settles on one with "I Love Hugo" emblazoned on it, and a light-up headdress.
In Geraldine's case, the same insane suggestions from Alice come out, but it is ultimately averted when the dress turns out to be a rather simple gown. Which promptly gets ruined.
Flanderization: In the first episode, Alice is shy and, while not terribly bright, was smart enough to switch the communion wine with a non-alcoholic version and quote Pilate in John's gospel. By the last episode, she thinks she's a direct descendent of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Alice:(on chocolate fingers) I love sticking them in my mouth, and sucking and sucking 'til all the chocolate comes right off... (she proceeds to do just that, in front of Hugo)
Irish Names: One episode features a character named Aoife (pronounced "EE-fa"), and Geraldine is unable to pronounce it properly (or, rather, she barely tries, likely due to the fact that she's jealous of the fact that Aoife is involved with Tristan, whom Geraldine has a crush on). Later, this conversation occurs:
Geraldine: Oh, you Irish, you love your wacky spelling, don't you?
Tristan: You can say that again, her brother's called Breifne.
Geraldine: Oh, what, it spells Krtnqz?
Aoife: That's the guy!
Is This Thing Still On?: In "Dibley Live," David calls the vicarage to cancel his interview with "that Alice moron" and insults Jim, Frank, and Owen while he's at it, ignoring Geraldine's attempts to tell him he's live on the Dibley Phone-In. Geraldine decides to get revenge by asking after his hemorrhoids (which he describes in very frank terms) and then thanks him for calling in and broadcasting that to the whole village. He covers by claiming to be Rory Bremner.
Kissing Cousins: Hugo and Alice, who's revealed — at least to Geraldine, everyone else apparently already knew — to be the daughter of his second cousin who was also called David.
Last Request: As Letitia lies on her deathbed, her dying request to Geraldine was that she take over from her as the Easter Bunny, taking chocolate eggs around the village each Easter. Hilariously, it was subsequently discovered that Letitia had made the same request of every member of the parish council.
Les Yay: In-Universe, In "Merry Christmas", first between Geraldine and Alice, and then between Geraldine and model Rachel Hunter. Alice misinterpreting the latter scenario causes the council to briefly think that the two are having a fling, which raises eyebrows.
Frank suffers through this quite a lot. His distinguishing characteristic is that he is extremely long-winded, pedantic, and boring. However, a subversion occurs in "Merry Christmas": when he starts his speech about Geraldine everyone finds either a book to read or a nice place to sit down for a nap, but it turns out his speech is only a few sentences long. Everyone is grateful.
This happens to Geraldine in "The Christmas Lunch Incident": despairing because her Christmas sermon isn't done yet, she ropes Alice as an audience, but she gets distracted by a magazine. When she asks Owen to listen, he would rather clean up his manure-encrusted cowshed than stay.
Geraldine does actually get herself a cup of tea (and some biscuits) when Jim is rehearsing a speech that includes the Abba song "Knowing Me, Knowing You." Kno-kno-kno-knowing Jim's Verbal Tic, it takes quite a while.
Love at First Sight: Harry claims to have had this for Geraldine. Considering his behaviour in their first scene together, he's probably being honest, too.
Miss Conception: The first episode where Alice is pregnant with her and Hugo's first child, she mentions that she can't be pregnant because "the hamster didn't turn blue". To her credit Geraldine lampshades it by saying, "I don't think I'm familiar with that particular pregnancy test."note Apparently it's a traditional pregnancy test in Dibley. The woman urinates on a hamster, and if it turns blue she's pregnant. Make of thatwhat you will.
Mistaken for Cheating: Geraldine believes that Harry is cheating with her on another woman, because that is exactly what happened with David's brother Simon when he and Geraldine had their fling. It turns out that the woman, Rosie, is actually Harry's sister.
Hugo: Well, I can't actually tell you what he said, because... because you're the vicar. But, well, let's say a certain word is represented by another word that sounds like a little like that word, like, um, like duck, for instance. He asked me what the duck I was playing at, said he didn’t give a flying duck if I ducking loved Alice ducking Tinker, and if I ducking kissed her again, he'd make sure I was well and truly ducked.
Geraldine: Well, duck me!
Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Frank came out partway through the series as a homosexual after forty years in the closet, and did so over the local radio show set up by the vicar. The only problem? Frank's normally so very, very dull that everyone in town turned off their radios as soon as he came on. He was thrilled with how accepting everyone was the next day.
"Not Wearing Pants" Dream: Jim thinks he's having one, but he actually is completely naked in one of the council meetings. He doesn't bother to cover up when he finds out.
Geraldine whenever the council generally have a plan, since she knows it will be anything but sane.
Geraldine when Alice's Sunday School class start singing an alternative version of "When Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night", once she realises it's a risque version.
David cries "Oh God" out loud early into the "This Is Your Life" event in the final episode of the main series, when it becomes clear that none of the facts save Geraldine's birthday are correct.
Only Sane Man: David and Geraldine are well aware that they are the only people in the village with more than two braincells. Before Geraldine arrived, David pretty much anchored the entire village on his own.
An earlier episode reveals her name as Bodicea Geraldine Granger.
David: May I call you Bodicea?
Geraldine: ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Playing Against Type: Richard Armitage is best-known for his dark, grim and brooding roles. He here plays Harry Kennedy, an accountant and hopeless romantic with a thing for nerdy sweaters and Geraldine's eventual husband
Promoted to Opening Titles: Everyone in "Merry Christmas", except Dawn French and Gary Waldhorn. They were named in the opening credits from the start.
Letitia Cropley, apparently, especially when she was younger.
Jim too, who has apparently visited many red light districts in his time and once got involved in a Citizenship Marriage with another man.
Refuge in Audacity: The documentary, Story of Dibley, reveals that once the writers realised they could get away with a bit of filth, they could use this trope to include absolutely anything they wanted. Owen being openly stated as having sexual relations with animals is just one example of this.
Relative Error: Geraldine is intensely jealous when she spots Harry hanging around a lot with another woman, Rosie. It later turns out that Rosie is, in fact, Harry's sister.
Geraldine almost calls off Hugo and Alice's wedding after learning that David Horton was Alice's father, making Hugo and Alice half-siblings. Actually, it was a relative of the show's David who had the same name, which makes Hugo and Alice Kissing Cousins instead.
David mentions his candidacy for the upcoming election at a part and Geraldine says she hopes he beats the current Councilor, who must be "Mr. Do-Nothing of the Sod-All" party... cue awkward silence.
"David. It's David, isn't it?"
From The Christmas Lunch Incident:
Owen: Sorry I'm late. I was just leaving when that daft girl and her horrible gang of talentless dwarfs came round. I haven't heard a racket like it since I caught that cow in the shredder.
(Geraldine motions behind him.)
Owen: Hello Alice. Hello dear little children.
Running Gag: In the earlier episodes, Owen was often late to the parish council meetings due to either a) problems with his bowels ("It's like the big ride at Alton Towers in my innards"), or b) problems with his animals ("Sorry I'm late. Sheep exploded").
Whenever Geraldine called the Archbishop, she would send her love to the Archbishop's Guy Of The Week.
Screaming Birth: Averted when Alice gives birth to baby Geraldine - she's certainly not quiet, but she isn't exactly screaming either.
Smoking Hot Sex: Invoked: After Geraldine and Simon chase off everyone so the two of them can finally go to bed together, Jim comes back and brings two lit cigarettes, "for later".
Sound Effect Bleep: After Simon Horton dumps her, Geraldine blows her stack at a parish council meeting and cusses out everyone involved. Most of it is drowned out by a jackhammer from a nearby construction crew.
Suddenly Sexuality: Frank showed multiple signs of interest in the opposite sex in the early episodes — indeed, it is hinted that he may have even had an illegitimate child — but then he became a lifelong homosexual/bisexual (which isn't specified) for the remainder of the series after a gag in which he comes out on the air with no one listening.
Sweet Tooth: Geraldine. Yes, she's already a Big Eater, but she absolutely demolishes sweets. Having four different sets of Christmas lunch was so hard for her that she had to be delivered back to the vicarage by a bulldozer, but she has no problem finishing an entire freezer full of ice cream and a large cupboard full of chocolate bars.
The Swear Jar: In 'The Easter Bunny', everyone on the parish council gives up a common habit of theirs, or else put a pound in the "Lent Fines Box" (used to raise money for a movie club) every time they succumb to it. In Owen's case, this means giving up swearing. As soon as Lent is over, he launches into a Cluster F-Bomb to make up for lost time.
The Tag: Each episode would end with Geraldine telling Alice a joke, which Alice would then completely misinterpret. One episode broke this trend by having her tell the joke to David Horton, (Alice was on her honeymoon), who did get it and thought it was hilarious.
It was hilarious, but the real joke was that Geraldine starts explaining it to him out of habit.
Broken again at the end of the last Christmas special, where her new husband explains the joke to Alice... and Alice gets it.
Terrible Interviewees Montage: In "Songs Of Praise", where Geraldine has to assemble a choir and initially has no takers, but then adds the little bit about appearing on TV, and half the village lines up. Most of them are horrible, naturally, and even the ones who aren't universally pick "You Fill Up My Senses" as their audition piece.