Brits would trust the Vicar of Dibley to lead the nation during Covid-19 - poll

Dawn French as everyone's favourite parish priest in The Vicar of Dibley(Photo: BBC)

Brits would trust the Vicar of Dibley more than any other TV clergy to lead the nation through a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey by Christian Aid. 

Asked if they would trust a TV vicar to lead the country during a national crisis, over a third of British adults who said they would chose Geraldine Granger (37%), played in the hit comedy by Dawn French, who returned to screens last week for a one-off special during the BBC's Big Night In. 

She was followed by the only other female TV vicar included in the poll – Sister Evangelina played by Pam Ferris in Call the Midwife (15%). 

Other TV vicars in the top five were Father Ted Crilly (15%), Rev Sidney Chambers from Grantchester (10%), and Rev Francis Seaton (Paul Chahidi) from This Country (6%).

Women were more likely than men to trust Sister Evangelina the most (23% vs. 7%), while men were more likely than women to choose Father Ted Crilly (23% vs. 8%). 

However, two in five British adults (41%) said they would not trust any TV vicar to provide moral or spiritual leadership to the nation at a time of crisis.

The poll was carried out by international development agency Christian Aid. It comes ahead of its major annual fundraising drive, Christian Aid Week, from 10 to 16 May, which has moved online because of Covid-19. 

Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, CEO of Christian Aid, said: "With 84 per cent of the world's population associating with a faith, religious communities all over the world hold significant power and trust.

"Religious actors can play a key role in providing accurate public health information to people, and faith communities have a strong base from which to promote physical distancing to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 while keeping a sense of solidarity.

"As debate takes place around the world about the success of female global leaders in tackling the coronavirus, it is interesting to note that female fictional clergy top the poll of most trusted when it comes to providing leadership and guidance during crises."

In a separate poll carried out by Savanta ComRes on behalf of Christian Aid, nearly two thirds (61%) of British adults agreed that faith leaders have a role to play in providing moral guidance and spiritual leadership during Covid-19.  Only a quarter (24%) disagreed.

Ms Mukwashi continued: "In Great Britain, we are grateful for the real-life clergy who are playing a vital role in keeping their communities together as we deal with the effects of the pandemic, we should therefore not underestimate the way in which religious leaders – albeit fictional – could play in providing moral leadership and spiritual guidance at the most difficult times.

"Actors who wear dog collars and wimples on our TV screens may be household names up and down the country, but there are unsung heroes among faith leaders in real-life communities who are forces for good in times of crisis. They are there right now, for those mourning their loved ones, for those who want to get married, for those who want to talk, for those who have no one else to reach out to them.

"They are frontline workers providing the inner strength that helps us build the resilience we need to get through such a time as this."