The showbiz world is paying tribute following the death of Vicar Of Dibley star Gary Waldhorn at the age of 78.
The actor, who was best known for playing Councillor David Horton in the classic TV sitcom, died on Monday, his son confirmed.
In a statement via PA News Agency, Josh Waldhorn said: ‘My beloved father, Gary Waldhorn peacefully passed away at 6.45am on January 10 2022.
‘Classically trained, it was the theatre where he truly flourished and he leaves a legacy of entertainment that saw him frequent the boards of Broadway, the West End and our living rooms on the telly!
‘He leaves behind his two grandsons, Cooper and Bayley and his son Josh. We will all miss him terribly.’
Waldhorn appeared in Robin Hood, Brush Strokes, Brideshead Revisited over the course of his long career, but it was Vicar of Dibley for which he was best known.
He starred on the show from 1994 to 2013, and in that time he was responsible for some of the most memorable scenes in the entire series.
Look back at his finest moments from the classic sitcom below.
Geraldine’s big first impression
Two very different worlds collided in the very first scene of the show back in 1994, when Dawn French’s Geraldine Granger and David meet for the first time.
Actor Gary embodied an old-fashioned stuffiness throughout the series, and his attitude in this moment is exactly what Geraldine spent her entire career trying to rage against.
‘I’m expecting the new priest,’ he said unsuspectingly to Geraldine, before adding: ‘Unless they’ve landed us with a woman, as some sort of insane joke!’
Geraldine, always ready to stand up for herself, replied: ‘You were expecting a bloke – beard, bible, bad breath… and instead you got a babe with a bob cut and a magnificent bosom.’
Instantly, the dynamic between the two was set up. The conflict and begrudging respect between them would run right at the heart of the show for the next decade.
The character of Councillor David Horton would never have endeared himself to audiences if he hadn’t shown a softer side.
After being struck by the stories of families impacted by an earthquake in Colombia, one episode saw Geraldine decide to send the money raised for a new stained-glass church window to a relief fund, and get a plain window instead.
Which audiences might have expected David to rage at the news, instead he calls the window ‘very beautiful’ in this understated scene. It’s a telling moment which illustrates the fact that, ultimately, he has real heart too – and is far more than a caricature.
The sprout eating contest
David was always a man of tradition, and his Christmas Day was always just the way he wanted it.
Unfortunately for Geraldine, who dropped by after already having eate way more dinner than she could manage, he also hosted a Brussels sprout eating competition with Hugo without fail every December 25.
One of the funniest scenes from the first series, the brilliantly performed physical comedy helped to showcase David’s competitive nature – and also showed the tensions between him and Geraldine slowly by surely beginning to thaw.
The Easter bunny
Geraldine could never have expected to see another person in a bunny suit delivering chocolate eggs when doing her bit for the village over Easter – and especially not David.
Following the death of the much-loved Letitia Cropley (Liz Smith), Geraldine volunteered to become the village bunny and had a huge shock after seeing David Horton dressed in the same outfit.
‘Vicar! What are you doing?’ a surprised David asked in the scene.
‘I’m the Easter Bunny, I promised Letitia Cropley I would do it,’ he told her, before adding: ‘After all the time I spent on these bloody ears.’
The vicar even jokes around with a added little flirtation, too, with Geraldine saying: ‘I must say, you look surprisingly cute in that. What a sexy little tail you’ve got there.’
‘Get off. I suggest we stay very quiet about this. You do one end of the village, and I’ll do the other and it will remain our secret,’ David said, clearly not impressed.
While David was a well-defined character from the get-go on the series, he had a moment of complete transformation in the 1999 episode Spring.
After realising that he and Geraldine have far more in common than he first thought, he arrived at a meeting with the usual gang, looking a completely transformed man.
The new care-free version of David Horton took the unexpected step of proposing to Geraldine. With the help of some musical backing from a cellist, he gets down on one knee.
While she’s a little embarrassed into saying ‘yes’ to the request, we never got to see the pair together, as Geraldine managed to get out of the wedding before they could walk down the aisle together.
The Vicar of Dibley is ready to stream on BBC iPlayer.