Let’s start with the positives:
– context is realistic, and being an ex-East End vicar myself it was great to see some familiar locations being explored;
– Tom Hollander can act;
– it did make me chuckle a good deal, and I’m sure I’ll watch the whole thing.
Why oh why did we have to endure yet another presentation of a vicar as a downtrodden and browbeaten big girl’s blouse? When I was first called to the ministry I resisted the call for as long as humanly possible (two days of arguing directly with God; yes I am that stubborn) and that was simply because I had absolutely no desire to be a Derek Nimmo. He still represents for me all that is most spineless and useless about the church (the established church in particular) – the reduction of ministry to social work, to – in one of the sharpest moments of the programme – the need to devote all our energies to ‘wiping people’s arses’.
You’d never glean from a programme like this that Jesus was incredibly courageous and manly – a bloke’s bloke if ever there was one – that he was often astonishingly rude to people he disagreed with, that he was angry and aggressive – and that there are a great many clergy who follow that path. In short – there is nothing prophetic about this presentation, it was entirely lacking in theological substance and truth.
However, having got that off my chest, there was at least a sign of the worm turning at the end of the programme. It will be interesting to see if that represents the way the series will go. How wonderful it would be if there was a robust presentation of the reality of God in a vicar’s life. I won’t get my expectations up.