Rev is a contemporary sitcom, produced by Big Talk for BBC Two, about the enormous daily frustrations and moral conflicts of Reverend Adam Smallbone, played by Tom Hollander – a Church of England Vicar, newly promoted from a sleepy rural parish to the busy, inner-city world of St Saviour’s, in East London. It’s a world he has little experience of, and it shows – it really shows.
It is an impossibly difficult job being a good, modern, city vicar. And, equally, it’s a very hard job being married to one. Alex – Adam’s long-suffering wife – 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.
Anybody can, and does, come into St Saviour’s – and into Adam’s life – from scheming MPs trying to educate their children on the cheap to Colin, a heavy drinking, unemployable lost soul who is Adam’s most devoted parishioner.
Then there’s Mick, the local crackhead in need of £20 to visit his “dying mother” in Southend – she’s died three times in the last 12 months.
Every day throws up a moral conflict for the vicar. Adam’s door must always be open to urban sophisticates with ulterior motives, the chronically lonely, the lost, the homeless, the poor and the insane. All are welcome at St Saviour’s and Adam can’t turn any of them away – even if they’re clearly lying, mad or just very annoying.
In addition to caring for his flock, Adam has to worry about the financial burden of running a huge, decaying building – with a smashed stained glass window – and a dwindling congregation. He has to contend with hopeless volunteers, ambitious church rivals, the sinister attentions of the Archdeacon and the romantic attentions of Adoha, a renowned “cassock-chaser” and church regular. Even his supposedly supportive Lay Reader Nigel is a pedantic careerist who thinks he should be running the place himself.
Heavily researched and supported by anecdotes from a number of working city vicars and Church insiders Rev lifts the lid on how the modern Church actually functions, and what life is really like in a dog collar.
Rev also stars Olivia Colman, Steve Evets, Miles Jupp, Lucy Liemann, Simon McBurney and Ellen Thomas. Special guests Alexander Armstrong, Darren Boyd, Hugh Bonneville and Colin Salmon feature in some episodes.