THE Vicar of Dibley made a triumphant return tonight with fans thanking Dawn French for "saving Christmas".
The first of three 'In Lockdown' episodes was hailed as "a welcome tonic" for bringing comfort to viewers during the coronavirus pandemic.
One scene saw vicar Geraldine Granger reuniting with bumbling Hugo Horton (James Fleet) on a video call – but she cuts him off as he rambles on about nothing.
Viewers rushed to Twitter to applaud the show, with one tweeting: "TheVicarOfDibley oh Hugo 💛! So lovely to have a few new specials."
Another fan wrote: "loved watch the #TheVicarOfDibley in lockdown was great to see the vicar again #bbciplayer"
And another said: "@Dawn_French The greatest tonic we all need #TheVicarOfDibley makes my heart so full! Thank you ❤️"
Last month, it was confirmed Dawn would be returning as beloved vicar Geraldine Granger – now Kennedy – in a series of Christmas Specials.
And in an upcoming episode she is set to take the knee and deliver a Black Lives Matter sermon in an upcoming episode.
In one of the three 10-minutes episodes, Geraldine addresses the murder of George Floyd by American police officers and racism as a wider issue.
Geraldine acknowledges that Dibley – the fictional Oxfordshire village the show is set in – isn't the most racially diverse, she says: "'I don't think it matters where you're from.
"I think it matters that you do something about it because Jesus would, wouldn't he? Until all lives matter the same, we are doing something very wrong."
"We need to focus on justice for a huge chunk of our countrymen and women who seem to have a very bad, weird deal from the day they're born."
The episode differs vastly from the rest of the series, which is written by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer.
While some critics might argue the episode could be seen as the BBC undermining its position of being impartial on the issue of Black Lives Matter, a spokesperson for the Corporation has insisted this is not the case.
They told The Mail on Sunday: "Geraldine is a well-established fictional character of a much-loved comedy who gives her take on the key moments of the year.
"Audiences understand the difference between news and comedy content and the sermons do not breach the BBC's impartiality guidelines."
Dawn, who lives in Cornwall, dismissed criticism over the forthcoming Black Lives Matter scene in an "ironic" tweet last night.
She wrote on Twitter "A lovely calm day, full of humanity and support all round" after actor Lawrence Fox raged: "A sermon from the high altar of the church of moral superiority, the BBC.
"This virtuous false enlightenment allows them to ignore the charter to educate the great unwashed. Do your job! #DefundTheBBC."
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