The BBC has received 266 complaints over a scene in The Vicar Of Dibley which saw Dawn French’s character take the knee and deliver a sermon about racism.
During the Christmas episode, which aired last week, Reverend Geraldine Granger addressed the killing of George Floyd by American police officers and referenced the Black Lives Matter movement.
The BBC has previously defended the scene, saying in a statement it ‘was in keeping with the character and the theme of the show’.
Earlier this month, French also appeared to dismiss complaints about the scene.
During the Christmas episode, which aired last week, Dawn French’s character Reverend Geraldine Granger takes the knee and delivers a sermon about racism
Amid criticism on social media from some who claimed the scene showed a lack of impartiality from the BBC, she tweeted: ‘A lovely calm day, full of humanity, compassion and support all round…’
The 63-year-old later clarified in the comments that she was being ‘a tad ironic’.
The scene shows French’s character being filmed by parishioner and farmer Owen Newitt as she tells the audience she has been preoccupied with the ‘horror show’ of George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mr Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on his neck in Minneapolis on May 25 for nearly nine minutes.
Following his death thousands across the globe took to the streets calling for the officers involved to be jailed for their crime.
Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged in June with second-degree murder while officers Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – were also charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
In the scene, the vicar explains that Dibley, the fictional Oxfordshire village in which the show is set, is ‘not the most diverse community’.
She says: ‘But I don’t think it matters where you are from. I think it matters that you do something about it, because Jesus would, wouldn’t he?
‘And, listen, I am aware all lives matter, obviously, but until all lives matter the same we are doing something very wrong.
The episode saw Reverend Geraldine Granger address the killing of George Floyd by American police officers and reference the Black Lives Matter movement
‘So I think 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 are born.’
She then walks to the parish noticeboard and tears down two posters, one about decimalisation and the other about a missing button.
She adds: ‘I think that in Dibley perhaps we should think about taking down some of these old notices like this and that, and perhaps we should put up one like this instead.’
After replacing them with a home-made Black Lives Matter poster, she takes the knee.
The scene strikes a more serious tone than the rest of the episode, in which she discusses online quizzes and alcohol consumption.
Actor Laurence Fox and interim party leader for UKIP Neil Hamilton criticised the scene
Following the scene, actor Lawrence Fox wrote: ‘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.’
While interim party leader for UKIP Neil Hamilton posted: ‘The BBC are done. Time to take the axe. #DefundTheBBC.’
A BBC spokesperson previously said: ‘The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Sermons reflects on the events of 2020 including clapping for the NHS, Black Lives Matter and school exams being cancelled amongst others.
‘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.’
The 266 complaints came between December 7 and 20, according to the BBC.