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Series / Rev.

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Rev. (2010-14) is a BBC television sitcom. Reverend Adam Smallbone is an Anglican vicar who has recently been transferred from a small rural parish to the "socially disunited" inner-city parish of St Saviour in the Marshes in East London. Unable to turn anyone away from his new appointment, Smallbone is faced with a collection of moral challenges as he balances the needs of genuine believers, people on the streets and drug addicts as well as with the demands of social climbers using the church to get their children into the best schools.

Adam has an impossibly difficult job being a good modern city vicar and his wife, Alex, does her best to support him, but she's got her own career as a solicitor to worry about and she is no one's idea of a conventional vicar’s wife. He is also supported by lay reader Nigel, although he firmly believes that he should be the one running the church. In immediate supervision is Archdeacon Robert, who continually puts pressure on Adam to increase the congregation and church income.

Parishioners include Colin (a heavy-drinking, unemployable lost soul who is Adam's most devoted parishioner), Adoha (well-known for her romantic interests in the clergy), Ellie (the head teacher of the local primary school) and Mick (an irredeemable crack addict).

Rev contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Adoha is openly described as a "cassock-chaser" and usually acts affectionately towards Adam. For his part, Adam occasionally acts like this towards Ellie.
  • Accidental Hero: The plot of the series 2 opener has Adam get regarded as one of these after he accidentally foils a mugger.
  • Actor Allusion: Liam Neeson, who has a cameo role as God, had previously played Jesus in the 1978 film adaptation of The Pilgrim's Progress.
  • Addled Addict: Mick, invariably referred to as "Mick the Crackhead". Sometimes becomes a Functional Addict but has usually relapsed by the end of the episode.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Adam needs to learn the lesson he keeps being taught about not envying people who are better at their jobs than him before their inevitable bad luck gets someone ki- oh, too late.
  • The Alcoholic: Colin is rarely seen without a drink.
  • Alone in a Crowd: The title sequence. Also at play in "A Fine Bromance", when Adam laments that he doesn't have any actual friends.
  • Always Someone Better: A recurring plot; it seems like the good vicar has a problem with Envy...
    • Roland Wise, Adam's schoolfriend who's making a good name as a celebrity vicar; see Broken Pedestal. Promoted to Recurring Character in series 2.
    • Abby the curate in series 2, who immediately increases attendance, becomes beloved by everyone, and generally outshines Adam in every way. Luckily for him, she's Kicked Upstairs by the end of the episode.
    • Mattie Feld, everyone's favourite Cool Teacher, the Hot Headmistress's boyfriend and — despite being an atheist — star of the Catholic team in the interfaith five-a-side football tournament. Gets hit by a bus. Unlike the other two, he's very much a Jerkass .
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The fallout from Adam's appearance on The One Show:
    Nigel: This pile of letters is from people who think you're homophobic, and are a disgrace. This pile of letters is from people who think you're condoning homosexuality, and are a disgrace. And this letter is from an ABBA fan who thinks you're stupid!
  • Artistic Licence – Religion: Usually averted, but a couple of minor points do come up.
    • Archdeacon Robert worries a few times about what the Dean might have to say about what's going on in Adam's parish, giving the impression that the Dean is senior to him in the church hierarchy. In actual fact, though, in the Church of England, a diocese is divided into archdeaconries, which are in turn divided into deaneries — so the reverse is actually true. Unless of course he's talking about the Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, although it is unlikely that he would be interested in the goings-on in an East London parish church.
    • When Adam and Nigel are holding a minute's silence at the local war memorial, everyone else is carrying on with their daily business as usual. A group of uniformed schoolkids are playing football, and one of them comes over to verbally abuse them. Although it is possible that Adam and Nigel are doing this on Armistice Day (11th November) itself note , they would be more likely to be doing it on the nearest Sunday which is commemorated as Remembrance Sunday in Britain; it's therefore unlikely that there would be uniformed schoolkids and roadworks. Plus, you'd think a few others (Adoha and Colin at the very least, along with at least one representative of the local branch of the Royal British Legion) would've shown up as well.
    • When Adam blesses the marriage of a gay couple in such a way that causes everyone to think that he actually married them, Archdeacon Robert says that he could get defrocked as a result. In actual fact, defrocking note  is very rare in the Church of England; the suspension of his licence to preach and administer the sacraments within the diocese would be a more likely punishment.
  • As Himself: In a series 1 episode where Adam is trying to get onto the media like rival reverend Roland Wise, John Humphrys, Jonathan Dimbleby and The One Show presenters Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles appear as themselves note .
  • Bad to the Last Drop: Adam's coffee, according to Robert.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The last two episodes present a Trauma Conga Line for Adam and others as a brief indiscretion on his part causes the parish to be closed down, he's barred from ministerial work and has to take menial jobs, Colin is very bitter toward him over the church closing, and Colin's dog dies. Still there's some uplift as Adam, Alex, Colin, the Archdeacon, and Nigel reunite for the baptism of Adam and Alex's baby daughter.
  • Blind Shoulder Toss: How Colin disposes of empty beer bottles. Which is how the church window came to be broken in the first place.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Enid, Adam's goddaughter, whose stay leads Adam and Alex to (briefly) question whether they really should be trying to have a baby of their own.
  • Britcom: One about a vicar, no less — but in contrast to The Vicar of Dibley, this one has been assigned to an inner-city parish.
  • Brick Joke: A few examples.
    • In the first episode, Adam cycles to the pub and locks his bike up outside. He's then visited by Archdeacon Robert who insists on talking to him in a taxi ... making Adam leave his bike. When he goes back to the pub later in the episode (several days later), the bike's still there.
    • Early on in "Forests of Prejudice", Colin tells a long-winded (and quite possibly made-up) story about how a criminal acquaintance once used a burqa as a disguise in order to rob a bookmaker's. Later on, Colin — in fear of his safety after running afoul of a local criminal gang — disguises himself by wearing a burqa.
  • British Brevity: Three series of six episodes each, plus a Christmas special after the second series, making 19 episodes in total.
  • Broken Pedestal: Adam meets his hated "Thought For The Day"-reading, Have I Got News for You-appearing ex-schoolmate rival, and finds out he's ultimately unhappy at having lost the point of his calling. Which doesn't stop him from stealing Adam's sermon idea to use it in a radio interview.
  • The Cameo: A few.
    • Ralph Fiennes appears in the first episode of series 2 as the Bishop of London.
    • In episode six of series 2, James Purefoy plays the part of Archdeacon Robert's boyfriend.
    • Episode six of Series Three has Liam Neeson as God.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Roland is played by Hugh Bonneville, who also plays the Earl of Grantham on Downton Abbey. Ellie treats herself to a Downton Abbey marathon in the Christmas Episode.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Colin.
  • Christmas Episode: What with all of the extra work he has to do in the run-up to Christmas (cooking breakfast for the homeless, playing Santa at Ellie's school, etc), Adam breaks down under all the stress and has a mini-Freak Out during midnight mass - the next day, he apologises for his "little Christmas episode".
  • Circle of Shame: Adam has a dream-version featuring pretty much everyone he knows. "You'd be a terrible father!"
  • Cool Old Lady: Joan, the elderly parishioner whose retirement home apartment may or may not be haunted. The fact that she's played by Sylvia Syms definitely helps.
  • Crisis of Faith: Adam is prone to these as he struggles with the demands of being a vicar in a modern, inner-city parish.
  • Depraved Dentist: A dead one is supposed to haunt the old folks home ... unless the Archdeacon made the whole thing up.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Quite why Adam doesn't opt to wear a regular shirt and tie instead of his usual dog collar for his visit to the strip club is anyone's guess. Although in the event, it incites few comments and as a result of his and Ellie's visit, they are able to block the plans for the club to open a new venue opposite the school.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Appropriately, the actions of several characters bring to mind incidents from The Bible.
    • Adam's meeting with the Area Dean and the Diocesan Secretary, who are both solely interested in the monetary value of St Saviour's Church and the land on which it stands, calls to mind Jesus's encounter with the money-lenders in the Temple.
    • By reporting Adam to the church authorities for kissing Ellie, Nigel is emulating Judas Iscariot.
    • After Adam is suspended from duty as a result of the above, Colin denies knowing him three times — an allusion to Peter denying that he knows Jesus three times after the latter's arrest.
    • Just before Easter, Adam carries a large wooden cross through the streets (delivering it to a neighbouring church which wants to use it) and is roundly mocked by everyone he encounters.
    • A non-Biblical example can be found in the team kits at the inter-faith five-a-side football tournament. The Anglican team plays in white shirts and blue shorts, the home kit of the England national football team. In contrast, the Catholic team has red and black striped shirts, just like AC Milan (Milan being home to the largest cathedral in Italy), the Jewish team plays in light blue (this being the colour of the Israel national football team's home kit) and the Muslim team plays in green (a colour strongly associated with Islam).
  • Dreadlock Rasta: Adam has a run-in with one who has mistakenly received vestments intended for him. The Rasta, who as it happens is the leader of the local Rastafarian community, refuses to give them back, prompting Colin — who is dabbling with Rastafarianism in that particular episode — to beat him up.
  • Drop-In Character: Colin usually, Mick sometimes. The difference is that Colin helps himself to Adam and Alex's food, while Mick is after money to buy drugs.
  • Football Episode: In "The Beautiful Game", Adam finds out that Archdeacon Robert referees at an inter-faith five-a-side football tournament consisting of Catholic, Muslim and Jewish teams — with the Buddhists providing the refreshments. He gets an Anglican team together to take part, and is not impressed to find that Matthew Feld, an avowed atheist, is playing for the Catholics.
  • Foreshadowing: There are a number of hints to the Archdeacon's true nature, such as his reaction to Adam's comment "We're all gay in the Church" and when Adam sarcastically refers to him spending his nights at "posh clubs for knobs" he coldly replies: "You literally have no idea how I spend my nights."
    • A more subtle one: Early on in the Matthew Feld episode, he and Adam are both seen riding bicycles. Adam's bike seems to be a somewhat slow and cumbersome model in comparison to Matthew's much lighter racing bike. Also, Adam is wearing a luminous jacket and a helmet, while Matthew ... isn't. Later on, Matthew is the one who gets killed as a result of being hit by a lorry while cycling.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the opening credits, the figure on the "zebra crossing" road sign is sporting a little dog collar.
  • The Ghost: Father England, Adam's predecessor who defected to the Roman Catholic church, is mentioned a few times. He was quite fond of using incense during services, had a picture of The Pope in the vestry, and once tried to creepily chat up Adoha's goddaughter. And he took some of the vestments with him when he left.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Nigel starts babbling about a never-before mentioned "Cherry" apropos of nothing soon after he and Adam find out that Robert is gay.
  • Good Shepherd: Although he has his lapses, Adam genuinely cares for his parishioners. The episode in which he gives comfort to a dying woman after experiencing a crisis of confidence (and faith) is a case in point.
  • Homage: Adam and Nigel begin humming "Tubular Bells" while on their way to perform an exorci- blessing for one of Adam's elderly parishioners. Nigel gets a bit carried away during the... procedure, and launches into the "power of Christ compels you!" liturgy from the film.
  • Hot for Preacher: Adam is mortified to discover that Adoha is turned on by listening to him preaching.
  • Hot Teacher: Ellie. Matthew is a male version.
  • Hypocrite: Most of the parents who suddenly start going to church when the primary school gets a good inspection report count as this, especially the MP. Matthew Feld provides a minor example, in that his atheism does not stop him from playing for the Catholic team in the interfaith five-a-side football tournament.
  • Impersonating an Officer: An ecclesiastical variation: In "Ever Been to Nando's?", Adam is picked up by the police on suspicion of impersonating a vicar. Even though the officers aren't entirely sure if that's actually illegal. Turns out, though, someone has been going round London pretending to be a vicar in order to enjoy the various benefits that that entails. It's later revealed to be Colin.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: In "Jesus is Awesome", rival vicar Darren's service is a little too evangelical for Adam's liking. When he sees Colin topping up his fruit smoothie with some vodka, he's very quick to take the bottle so that he can do the same to his smoothie.
  • Inner Monologue: Adam has these, although they are actually him talking to God.
  • Insistent Terminology: Adam is not allowed to do exorcisms — although C of E priests can do them, they need to be specially qualified (which Adam is not). The ritual he performs with a bottle of holy water for a parishioner who's scared that her room is haunted is a blessing.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Although his behaviour is rather questionable, Adam is correct when he points out that his goal in the Anglicans v Catholics five-a-side football match is perfectly legal as the referee (Archdeacon Robert) had not blown the whistle to stop play when Alex threw up — the members of the Catholic team who went over to help her should really have played to the whistle, which is what Adam did (seeing them all distracted, he went on a solo run and scored rather than go and see if his wife was OK). Robert allows the goal.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Archdeacon. He's a Smug Snake who seems to value financial considerations over everything else, has an air of a Mafia don, and normally treats Adam with nothing but contempt, yet backs Adam up regarding Colin. Also when he comes to accept that he will never be a Bishop (a post that he's catastrophically unsuited for anyway) due to his sexuality. After spending the entire episode faking humility he elects, for once, to be honest and accepts his role as it is. He also helps Adam get rid of Darren who has been getting on his nerves, as well as allowing Adam's somewhat controversial goal in the Anglicans v Catholics five-a-side football match to stand.
  • Kick the Dog: After Adam tries to comfort Nigel over his ordination application being rejected, Nigel blames Adam for "fucking him over".
  • Lies to Children: Adam's heartwarming bugs-and-dragonflies analogy to explain heaven to an assembly-full of grieving children.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the final episode of series one, after getting drunk and behaving like a Jerkass at the Tarts and Vicars party, Adam (having just been collared by the police for being drunk in public) is taken by the police to the flat of an elderly couple. The wife is dying, and needs a priest. Adam comforts her and gives her last rites, and by the end of the episode has dropped his bad attitude.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Adam, a basically good man who's not without fault, fits this trope more than he does The Vicar.
  • My Local: Adam spends enough time in the Monarch pub for him to be on first-name terms with the barmaid (well, he did officiate at her wedding) and for Archdeacon Robert to comment that that's where he knows to find him if he's not at the church or the vicarage.
  • Noodle Incident: We only hear about what Colin got up to when he went around pretending to be a vicar. Averted in the case of Colin getting arrested for assaulting the thief who's been stealing the lead from the church roof with a wheelie bin, as we later get to see some of the CCTV footage of the incident.
  • Novelization: In 2014, The Rev. Diaries was published. It's Adam's "diary", retelling the events of the first series. In the introduction, he states that he's decided to keep a diary of his tenure at St. Saviour's in the hope that in years to come, he'll be celebrated as the C of E's equivalent of Samuel Pepys, or maybe Bridget Jones.
  • Overzealous Underling: The guys with the low-loader who tow away a hearse which was illegally parked outside the church during a funeral definitely count. Even though we only hear Adam's side of his subsequent complaint to the council, it's clear that whoever is on the other end of the phone can't quite believe that anyone would actually do that, even though they were merely enforcing the parking regulations laid out by the council (albeit very over-zealously).
  • Potty Emergency: When Mick knocks at the door while Adam is waiting for Ronald, he's in his usual agitated state but is asking to use the toilet, not for money. Adam refuses ... and when Ronald arrives, he mentions that he just saw a man defecating in Adam's garden.
  • Precision F-Strike: At the end of an episode in which he's received a torrent of verbal abuse from the builders who are working on a building next to the church and has made a point of turning the other cheek, Adam takes his dog collar off and tells them to fuck off.
  • Rousing Speech: Adam gives a frustrated, competitive and downright vicious one at the football match.
  • Running Gag: Archdeacon Robert dumping his coffee down the sink and kicking Adam out of his taxi on random street corners.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Even though he really needs the money to repair the church window, and the smarmy local MP has promised to source a donation if Adam can bend the rules in order to let his son into the local primary school, Adam ultimately decides not to give the kid a place.
  • Serious Business: Football, especially against the Catholics.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Ellie has this reaction when she and Adam visit the strip club, and find that one of the strippers is a former pupil of hers.
  • Shipper on Deck: Several minor characters appear to be this for Adam and Ellie.
  • Shout-Out: A few...
    • When lamenting about how people take him for granted, Adam describes himself as "Mr. Cellophane — well, the Reverend Cellophane".
    • Adam refers to Archdeacon Robert as "the Dark Lord" — although it's unclear whether he has Darth Vader, Sauron or Voldemort in mind.
    • The mystery vicar impersonator, later revealed to be Colin, is said to have harassed the Bishop of London with questions about The Da Vinci Code.
    • The night before Adam's goddaughter comes to stay, Alex is sitting in bed reading The Slap. She's severely tempted to hurt the Enfante Terrible by the end of the weekend, while Nigel very nearly gives the little brat a slap in the face.
  • Smug Snake: Archdeacon Robert.
  • The Starscream: Nigel, who thinks that he would be a much better vicar than Adam, is a particularly pathetic example.
  • Status Quo Is God: At play whenever anyone tries to better themselves, but averted at the end of the show when the church gets closed after Adam submits his resignation.
  • Story Arc: In series 2 Adam and Alex are trying for a baby, which becomes both a major and minor plot point in the episodes.
  • Straight Gay: While he is, in retrospect, a little bit camp, Archdeacon Robert's homosexuality is only revealed when Adam and Nigel catch him and his boyfriend bed-shopping.
    • Directly revealed, yes, although it's very heavily implied at the beginning of the series in the sauna scene.
  • Take That!: An amusing one aimed at a certain Top Gear presenter (broadcast a few years before he got fired for punching a producer).
    Alex: You hate my friends. You say Julie swears too much.
    Adam: It's just when she used the C-word in a soft-play area. There were toddlers present.
    Alex: Well, she was talking about Jeremy Clarkson, so there were extenuating circumstances.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Adam does this with regards to the builders who are verbally abusing him in the first episode. Ultimately subverted, though, as he eventually gets fed up with them, takes off his dog collar and gives them a well-deserved Precision F-Strike.
  • The Vicar: Somewhat subverted, as Adam is a relatively ordinary, married man who just happens to be a vicar. When Nigel sees him kissing Ellie, it's definitely not played for laughs.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Darren, whose church — which is a bit too evangelical for Adam's taste — has attracted a large, enthusiastic and mostly young following despite the fact that it openly offers courses which purport to "cure" people of homosexuality.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Matthew Feld gets hit by a lorry and killed in the only episode in which he appears.
  • Wham Line: Series 2 episode 4's main storyline is Adam's rivalry with an atheist teacher at the local school, Mr Feld, naturally Played for Laughs. When Feld fails to turn up for an inspection, Adam feels he has done so deliberately to undermine him. Then he finds a child crying in the corridor:
    Child: Mr. Feld fell off his bike. A lorry hit him. He's dead.
    • The strange tramp Adam encounters in episode five of season three seems to be little more than a weird, cliche-babbling eccentric ... until He suddenly addresses Adam by name, despite having no possible way of knowing who he is.