The writers of Rev, which returns next week for its second series, could hardly have expected that the Church of England would suddenly become topical. And yet it has, thanks to the OLSX protest at St Paul's. This may be good news for the sitcom, about an inner-city vicar trying to reconcile his beliefs with modern life. But it's even better news for the Church – specifically, for the embattled Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, whose on-screen alter ego, "The Bishop of London", is being played by none other than Ralph Fiennes, who even wears Chartres-style facial hair for the role.
Fiennes thus joins one of the finest shows on television, not to mention a cast including Tom Hollander, Simon McBurney, Olivia Colman and Hugh Bonneville.
Bonneville's character, incidentally, is a celebrity vicar who frequently delivers Radio 4's Thought For The Day, not at all unlike Chartres's colleague and fellow OLSX casualty, Dr Giles Fraser.
The are surely few PR coups as substantial as being played by an attractive actor on screen (viz George VI, Fred West). Rowan Williams has supposedly invited the cast and crew of Rev for tea at Lambeth Palace twice, but twice been rebuffed due to filming commitments. Perhaps he hoped to persuade them to cast Martin Shaw in the Archbishop role.
The Thick of It is returning, and doubtless Liam Fox will pray for a balanced portrayal of an unfairly shamed Defence Secretary – as played by, say, Jason Isaacs.
One might well cast Hugh Grant as Justin Bieber in a Hollywood sex comedy. And George Papandreou surely ought to star in his very own Curb Your Enthusiasm-style sit-com, as "himself".
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