Last night, the much anticipated second series of ‘Rev’ was shown on BBC2. Hollander plays a young vicar, Adam Smallbone, who has relocated from a rural parish to Hackney in the East End of London. Rev. Smallbone is an ordinary person, an ordinary man. Not a comedy vicar like Dawn French, Ardal O’Hanlon or Derek Nimmo, but a kind and humorous man who is riddled with self doubt, who makes mistakes, and who truly cares about his parishioners and believes he can make a difference, however ill-judged some of his endeavours turn out to be.
I won’t tell you the plot of the first episode because I really, really want you to watch it on iPlayer/Catch Up etc and then continue to watch the rest of the series avidly. I will tell you though, that there is a striking cameo by Ralph Fiennes as the Bishop of London, and Hugh Bonneville appears as a white suited, ambitious and worldy colleague.
His wife Alex (Olivia Colman) has her own career as a solicitor and she really struggles with the 24-hour nature of his vocation. She loves him so much but desperately wants to spend time with him alone and is keen to start a family but, as she points out to him, ”You don’t shag me enough.”
Some of Smallbone’s finest moments are when he is sitting on the bench outside the church, fag in hand, discussing his problems with the local drunk, who frequently offers a weird kind of sanity. He is out of his depth, burdened with a shrinking congregation, a crumbling building and a dysfunctional but devoted support team. And yet, as in all his roles, there is a beauty and stillness to the character which takes your breath away.
I have never seen Hollander in a duff role. Everything he does has depth and conviction whether he’s George V in ‘The Lost Prince’, the cold and calculating Beckett in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ or the flamboyant Darren in ‘Bedrooms and Hallways’.
And he’s really, really gorgeous. Which is nice.