Dawn French: 'The Vicar Of Dibley' Christmas special a tribute to those no longer with us

Watch: Dawn French explain how The Vicar Of Dibley will have a serious note this Christmas

Dawn French has revealed the Christmas special of The Vicar of Dibley remember the actors who passed away since the sitcom ended in 1998.

The hit BBC sitcom is returning with a series of 10-minute lockdown specials over the festive season, and will pay a special tribute to its past stars - such as Emma Chambers, who played Alice Tinker.

French, 63, revealed on The One Show: “There are silly jokes, but we also pay a tribute to those who aren’t with us anymore, so you know, Dibley has always been able to wrap its arms around the truth as well as being silly and funny.”

James Fleet and Dawn French are bringing back their 'Vicar of Dibley' characters. (BBC/Tiger Aspect Productions Ltd/Des Willie)
James Fleet and Dawn French are bringing back their Vicar of Dibley characters this Christmas. (BBC)

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Chambers tragically died aged 53 from a sudden heart attack in 2018.

Other original Vicar Of Dibley cast members who are no longer with us are John Bluthal, who played Frank Pickle. He died in November 2018 at the age of 89.

Roger Lloyd-Pack who played Owen Newitt died at the age of 69 in 2014 while Letitia Cropley actor Liz Smith, whose character died in the 1996 Easter special, passed away in 2016 aged 96.

(Emma and Dawn appearing in The Vicar of Dibley. (BBC)
The Vicar of Dibley's Emma Chambers, aka Alice Tinker, sadly passed away in 2018. (BBC)

French said they wanted to acknowledge that the coronavirus pandemic has been a sad time, with many people losing their lives.

But she added: “Like everything in Dibley, there’s funny silly stuff, you know, there’s stuff about people getting stuck in the church when they were flower arranging when this lockdown started, so they’re still in the church now.”

The actor was most famous for his role as Frank Pickle in The Vicar of DIbley but he also appeared in films like Labyrinth and Hail! Caesar. Bluthal died on November 19 after suffering a fall.
John Bluthal, who played Frank Pickle, died in November 2018 at the age of 89. (BBC)

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The comedian said of the new episodes: “Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer who write The Vicar of Dibley and I - we decided, what would Geraldine be doing at Christmas? She would be zooming her parishioners and ministering to them like that, so that’s what we’ve done.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 05:  Actor Roger Lloyd Pack performs on stage for Festival Republic's Longitude Event at Century Club on March 5, 2012 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Andy Sheppard/Redferns via Getty Images)
Roger Lloyd-Pack died in 2014. (Getty Images)

“The first one is 10 minutes long but it’s three little sermons, so it takes us all the way through the lockdown from March all the way up to Christmas.

“It’s a cross between a newsletter, community notices and a sermon for everybody that’s there.”