When Dibley lost its verger on Wednesday, the world lost the talents of the brilliant Emma Chambers. Best known for her role as Alice Horton (née Tinker) in Vicar of Dibley and Honey Thacker in the Richard Curtis film, Notting Hill, Chambers died of natural causes on Wednesday at the far too young age of 53.
Chambers, who won the British Comedy Award for best TV actress for her performance as Dibley’s church verger between 1994 and 2007, was fondly remembered by Dawn French, who starred with Chambers in the title role of Dibley’s vicar, Geraldine Granger. Describing her as a “very bright spark and the most loyal and loving friend anyone could wish for,” French was joined by Paul Mayhew-Archer, co-writer of the Vicar of Dibley, in paying tribute.
He told BBC Radio 5 that despite most comedy series having an idiot, “she made Alice a completely unique, very special idiot”. “The joy of the scenes with Emma and Dawn is they never went wrong, so you just got these wonderful first takes – so you got all that original energy transferred straight on to the screen – it was a joy.”
Hugh Grant, who played the older brother of Chambers’ character in the 1999 film, spoke of his sadness following the news, adding: “She brought laughter and joy to many.” And Jon Plowman, executive producer of the Vicar of Dibley and former head of comedy at the BBC, described Chambers as “bright and clever”. Plowman added, “Emma was a gifted comic actress who made any part she played – no matter how ditzy or other worldly – look easy.”
R.I.P., Emma Chambers. Thank you for a lifetime of laughter, past, present and future.