Dawn French managed to sneak filthy jokes into ‘Vicar of Dibley’ by presenting them in a “very British and very friendly” way.

Dawn French

Dawn French

The 63-year-old actress stars as the titular vicar Geraldine Granger in the BBC sitcom, which began in 1994 and ran for three seasons plus several specials until 2007, and has now been revived for three 10-minute specials, 'The Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown', this month.

Dawn has said the show has always touched on “outrageous” topics that would usually never make it to air, but the programme managed to fly under the radar by hiding the “edgy” comedy inside the “seemingly cosy” format of the series.

She said: "We have said more outrageous things on that programme which is seemingly cosy and seemingly very British and very friendly and all generations are welcome.

"That’s what it looks like but in the middle of it there’s people talking about bestiality, there’s characters talking about having sex with trans people, there’s all kinds of things going on that show that there are mentions of, full-on sex jokes that are very edgy and there’s quite a lot of politics on that show.

“[The vicar] is a bit creepy and far too interested in lust, she’s interested in food, she’s interested in her own self-promotion.

"I’ve met people very like her, some women.”

The three new specials - which began airing this week - have seen Dawn and co-star James Fleet, who plays Hugo Horton, reunite without many of their friends, as several of the main cast have passed away since the show wrapped in 2007.

Emma Chambers - who played Alice Tinker - died in 2018 aged 53, Roger Lloyd-Pack (Owen Newitt) passed away in 2014 aged 69, and John Bluthal, who starred as Frank Pickle, died in 2018 aged 89.

Dawn added: "It was strange to be back there because now and there is very few of us remaining of the Dibley gang.

"There was me, James Fleet, who plays Hugo, and Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer and Jon Plowman who always produced it.

"It was very bittersweet because when you’ve lost so many of your darlings and realise how long the show has been running for and how much you love that family.”

And Dawn also admitted it was “very hard” to get through filming the show without her co-stars, especially during one episode which is a tribute to the beloved character Alice and her late actress Emma.

She is quoted by the Daily Star newspaper as saying: "One of the little episodes is a tribute to Alice.

"One of the great things about Dibley is it can be as sad or happy as you like. But to get through that film about her was very hard."