22 February 2004 | AdamJezard
"Another sherry, Bishop?"
This is a wonderful TV series. In reality, there are 33 episodes (including the pilot in the BBC's Comedy Playhouse series), although only 11 have survived the massive destruction of video and film material that took place at the BEEB in the early 70s.
The wonderful cast play members of a cathedral ecclesiastical community, who constantly in-fight amongst themselves. There is the Bishop (Mervyn), the Archdeacon (Hare) and the chaplain, Noote (Nimmo), who are lazy, ineffectual and enjoy life's pleasures. This triumvirate is engaged in a constant battle of wits against the reforming and high-church Dean (Baron, sadly the two seasons with Clark in the role have not survived).
It's not always about big belly laughs, but it's more gentle and enjoyable than the sickly sweet `Vicar of Dibley'. In fact, it owes much to Anthony Trollope's Barchester Cathedral series of novels. The humour is more akin to that of the Will Hay films or Capt. Mainwearing in `Dad's Army', where the joy is in watching incompetent people tackle tasks beyond their scope.
I loved this series as a child.
For real buffs, there was also a BBC radio series with Baron, Mervyn and Hare in their original roles, although Nimmo only appeared in 13 of the 33 episodes, being replaced by his friend Jonathan Cecil (who also wrote his obit in "The Times") for the remainder.
Sadly, another BBC series, "Oh, Brother!", in a similar vein, made at the same time and also starring Nimmo, also seems to have similarly suffered as reportedly only 9 of the original 19 episodes have survived.