A MUCH-loved television programme is being brought to the stage - with cast members having strong links to the original actors.

The Vicar Of Dibley will be performed at Helmsley Arts Centre, next week including one actor who was a professional photographer for the original cast.

Beaj Johnson playing Jim Trott in this production, still has links with the iconic Dawn French, while Julia Bullock, taking on the mighty challenge of playing the vicar Geraldine Granger, owns copy of the script signed by members of the TV cast. This is particularly special as only two of the original cast are still alive today, Dawn French and James Fleet.

Director Julie Lomas said when the play The Vicar Of Dibley was suggested at a committee meeting of The 1812 Theatre Company, she admittedly had some reservations.

"Who could follow the performances of that great comedy icon, Dawn French? Add to that portraying officiousness in the way of Gary Wildhorn (David), the originality of Emma Chambers (Alice), the famous dithering of Trevor Peacock (Jim), the bowels-obsessed Roger Lloyd Pack (Owen), the pedantic John Bluthal (Frank), the nerdy James Fleet (Hugo), the bonkers Liz Smith (Mrs Cropley) and the Bishop with a speech impediment, Richard Griffiths (Bishop Of Mulberry)?

"In the event, the production was completely cast at the first round of auditions- Julia Bullock (Geraldine Granger), Grahame Sammons (David Horton), Jeanette Hambidge (Alice), Oliver Clive (Hugo), Richard Noakes (Frank Pickle), Beaj Johnson (Jim Trott), Mike Martin (Owen), Sue Smith (Mrs Letitia Cropley) and Barry Whitaker (Bishop Of Mulberry).

Julie added: "The people that came forward to audition brought their characterisations to life in such a way that I found myself immediately forgetting her concerns. This is truly their production of The Vicar Of Dibley, and yet still retains a wonderful flavour of those unforgettable TV actors."

"The play is set in the 1990s and it’s amazing how much things have changed since then. A few things spring immediately to mind – the last printed Playboy magazine was published in 2020, Ribena bottles are no longer made from glass, some of the cast understandably had no knowledge of a Sony Walkman, and whoever has heard of William Hague and Anne Robinson?

"This will be a production that has a slice of nostalgia and yet the comedy is still fresh, with a dash of poignancy thrown in for good measure.

"The whole cast have had great fun rehearsing the production, which undoubtedly will come through in their performances.

"The performing rights allow companies to make their own adaptations of the TV series and the 1812 Theatre Company version was put together by the director. These rights are paid in full to ‘Comedy Relief’, so the production supports a good cause, which is a lovely bonus."

The Vicar Of Dibley production will performed at Helmsley Arts Centre, from Wednesday, July 3,to Saturday, July 6, evenings at 7.30pm and a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm

For tickets for to www.helmsleyarts.co.uk or contact the box office on 01439 771 700.