Make Poverty History delighted with Dibley coup

Organisers of the Make Poverty History campaign have hailed the campaign's appearance in the Vicar of Dibley's New Year's Day episode as an "unprecedented coup".

Adrian Lovett, a member of the campaign co-ordination team and 2005 projects director at Oxfam, also said it was a "happy coincidence of opportunity" that Richard Curtis, who is heavily involved in the campaign, also writes the BBC1 sitcom.

"It was his idea," Lovett said. "All we had to do was sit back and watch."

In the episode, the vicar, played by Dawn French, wanted as her 40th birthday present an end to world poverty. By the show's conclusion she had persuaded her friends to don white armbands and support the Make Poverty History campaign.

"We've had enormous feedback and it was encouraging to see that the messages do reach people in an emotional as well as an intellectual way," said Lovett.

The Jubilee 2000 campaign was explored in a similar way in episodes of The Archers five years ago, when the woman vicar encouraged her parishioners to travel to the G8 summit in Cologne to press world leaders to cancel developing world debt.

Lovett added that Curtis was now writing a short film for TV, a love story which would also explore the issues that will be on the agenda of the G8 summit in Scotland in July.

- See Third Voice, p24.

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