The Vicar of Dibley In Lockdown: Dawn French shares tribute to Emma Chambers


Dawn French paid tribute to her late co-star Emma Chambers during The Vicar of Dibley In Lockdown on Monday.  

The actress, 63, left viewers in tears as her character Geraldine Granger spoke movingly of best friend and ‘love of her life’ Alice Tinker, nearly three years on from Emma’s sudden death in February 2018. 

Emma, who starred in the sitcom for 13 years, died of natural causes, thought to be a heart attack, aged 53.

Much missed: Dawn French paid tribute to her late co-star Emma Chambers during The Vicar of Dibley In Lockdown on Monday

The Christmas special of the iconic drama  saw Geraldine speak about love and loss, and reveal that it had been three years since Alice died of cancer.

She said: ‘OK friends, dear friends, this is going to be a weird one, as it’s about love, and laughter and loss.

‘Because Dibley is such full of life but everywhere I go now, if I’m standing in my kitchen, if I go into the vestry, it’s always little Alice Tinker I see. And she died, three years ago this week.

‘Who is the person I’ve most loved in my life? Well I’m very fond of my handsome husband, but in the end it’s got to be her. My own darling dumb blonde.

RIP: The actress, 63, left viewers in tears as her character Geraldine Granger spoke movingly of best friend and 'love of her life' Alice Tinker, nearly three years on from Emma's sudden death in February 2018

RIP: The actress, 63, left viewers in tears as her character Geraldine Granger spoke movingly of best friend and ‘love of her life’ Alice Tinker, nearly three years on from Emma’s sudden death in February 2018

‘She had one husband, six children and three brain cells. But so much love in her heart she could defrost a frozen pizza on a winter’s day. She wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box but when we lost her, all our lights went out.’

Geraldine then spoke of the moment Alice was diagnosed with cancer, and recalled their first meeting when the vicar came to Dibley in the early 1990s.

She said: ‘I believe in eternal life in heaven but I also believe in eternal life on earth, because those who die are eternally here, alive in our memories and in who we are.’

Geraldine then broke down in tears as she continued: ‘Because of….because of how they changed us.

Rise to fame: Emma, who starred in the sitcom for 13 years, died of natural causes, thought to be a heart attack in February 2018 aged 53

Rise to fame: Emma, who starred in the sitcom for 13 years, died of natural causes, thought to be a heart attack in February 2018 aged 53

‘So message for today, love the ones you’re with especially today in these hardest of times and God bless you all.’

A sweet video clip of Emma on Alice’s wedding day appeared on screen as viewers praised the 10 minute special for honouring the late star’s memory. 

One fan wrote: ‘She was seriously the sweetest and most adorable part of The Vicar of Dibley. Still saddens me that we’ve had to say goodbye to her and Jim Trott and Letitia, too. Ugh. Too many losses for such a phenomenal cast.

Another wrote: ‘Absolutely loved the #VicarOfDibleyInLockdown. We have missed the #vicarofdibley so much and @Dawn_French you gave a very touching and beautiful tribute…made us smile, giggle and cry. Very moving.

Tragedy: he Christmas special of the iconic drama saw Geraldine speak about love and loss, and reveal that it had been three years since Alice died of cancer

Tragedy: he Christmas special of the iconic drama saw Geraldine speak about love and loss, and reveal that it had been three years since Alice died of cancer

She said: 'Who is the person I've most loved in my life? Well I'm very fond of my handsome husband, but in the end it's got to be her. My own darling dumb blonde'

She said: ‘Who is the person I’ve most loved in my life? Well I’m very fond of my handsome husband, but in the end it’s got to be her. My own darling dumb blonde’

A third typed: ‘Just came across Vicar of Dibley and really enjoy it. My condolences for the loss of Emma Chambers and other cast members no longer with us. Have a Merry Christmas.

Another wrote: ‘It is very sad to think that ……Alice Tinker Grinning face with smiling eyes is no longer with us, The Vicar of Dibley is one of my favourite sitcoms and Emma played Alice to a T.’

Dawn also took to Twitter to post a sweet snap with Emma on the show in its heyday, writing: ‘Miss her. And all those we’ve lost… #lovetheonesyourewith’ 

The episode also saw Geraldine speak about the Black Lives Matter movement before taking a knee on the village green.

Tribute: Dawn also took to Twitter to post a sweet snap with Emma on the show in its heyday, writing: 'Miss her. And all those we've lost... #lovetheonesyourewith'

Tribute: Dawn also took to Twitter to post a sweet snap with Emma on the show in its heyday, writing: ‘Miss her. And all those we’ve lost… #lovetheonesyourewith’

Emotional: Viewers took to Twitter to praise the show for its moving tribute

Emotional: Viewers took to Twitter to praise the show for its moving tribute

Talking about the tribute, Dawn recently said that she couldn’t get through the scene once without tears and that it took her seven times to film.

She told the Mirror that she still hasn’t been able to watch the emotional episode back, adding: ‘Along with all the silly, funny stuff, there is a moment where we pay tribute to Alice and that was not easy to film. 

‘Honestly, I had to do it seven times. I didn’t get through it once without tears but it’s really important to remember this is where real life and Dibley come together.’

Dawn also praised The Vicar Of Dibley creators Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer for being ‘truthful and honest’ while writing the reboot.  

Last month, Dawn also spoke about the emotional scene on an episode of Lorraine, she said: ‘There is a eulogy to Alice there which wasn’t very easy for me to film which was important for me to do.’ 

And while the show will no longer have those classic post-credits scenes where Geraldine tells Alice a joke which she doesn’t understand, Dawn said there will be a nod to that. 

She teased: ‘We do have Hugo Horton, Alice’s husband, he is there with me, James Fleet plays him, and there is a lovely moment when I tell a joke to him and fingers crossed he might get it at last.’  

Dawn previously said: ‘This has been a very shocking and sad loss. Far too young and I think we’re all still reeling a little bit from it.

‘My memories of working with Emma are some of my most favourite memories of my whole career. She’s a massively diligent person, much unlike [her character] Alice. 

‘She was incredibly bright. Very funny, very knowing and yet she was able to play someone who was in a different world.’ 

She continued: ‘She didn’t play a simpleton, she played someone who had a different reality. She was incredibly authentic at that and I will miss that. 

‘I have to tell you, to play a clown in a way like that, it takes a lot of hard work. You have to learn things very particularly. She did it really well, really well.’ 

The show originally aired from 1994 to 1998, but the series returned for various specials before officially concluding in 2007. It has briefly headed back to screens for various shorts in aid of Comic Relief. 

Iconic: The show originally aired from 1994 to 1998, but the series returned for various specials before officially concluding in 2007. It has briefly headed back to screens for various shorts in aid of Comic Relief

Iconic: The show originally aired from 1994 to 1998, but the series returned for various specials before officially concluding in 2007. It has briefly headed back to screens for various shorts in aid of Comic Relief 

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