TV preview: Rev

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Praise be - the Reverend Adam Smallbone is back at last.

Two years is a long time between sermons - here’s hoping TV’s best-loved vicar has spent that time away from our screens coming up with inspiring new subjects and honing his delivery.

Let’s face it, his parish could use a few more devotees - inner-city London was always going to be a tough gig, and despite his best efforts, Adam hasn’t really managed to win over the locals, unless you count unstable Mick, alcoholic lost soul Colin and lovesick Adoha.

They’re all back for this third series, which Tom Hollander, who co-created the sitcom with writer James Wood, says was a dream to make.

“I found it very comforting and reassuring and it’s very lovely to do something that you have done before which people have enjoyed,” he remarks. “There was none of the stress you normally have playing a new part where you go, ‘Oh, I wonder if it works if I do this or if I do that’ whereas, because we’ve done two series there’s a relaxation of putting on a, you know, favourite old cardigan or something.”

Also back is Olivia Colman. She may have become Britain’s premier TV actress since the last run of Rev was aired, thanks to performances in Broadchurch, Run, Accused and The Thirteenth Tale, but she found time in her hectic diary for this.

“There’s something comforting about knowing we’re back because people liked it, so we’re doing something right,” she says. “It’s a shame you have to do anything on the first day. It’d be nice if it was a write-off because you’re just chatting and catching up. It’s lovely.”

There’s about to be a new addition to the couple’s lives when we meet him again - Alex gives birth to their long-awaited first child, a girl, in dramatic circumstances.

“The baby belongs to the Parish suddenly,” explains Colman. “So, everyone who is knocking on the door anyway is now also knocking on the door to look after the baby, which is very irritating to Alex.”

There’s also little time for paternity leave, because Adam’s parish duties continue to weigh heavy on him.

In the first episode, he joins forces with an Imam in an attempt to improve the local community, but is left wondering if his new colleague has a hidden agenda.

Also giving poor Adam a headache are the new Area Dean and Diocesan secretary who seem to have big but destructive plans for St Saviour’s.

Kayvan Novak, Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine guest star as the newcomers, and the general consensus of opinion from Hollander and Colman is that they’re “brilliant”.

But it’s the central duo who keep us coming back and praying for more episodes.

Colman perhaps sums up Rev’s appeal best when she describes it as: “well-written, beautiful and the people are loveable and flawed. It’s got a soft underbelly and a humility which is easy to love.”

REV, BBC TWO, MONDAY, 10pm

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