Remembering Emma Chambers

Emma Chambers as Alice Tinker-Horton in The Vicar of Dibley ( Image courtesy of Tiger Aspect Productions and BBC)
Emma Chambers as Alice Tinker-Horton in The Vicar of Dibley ( Image courtesy of Tiger Aspect Productions and BBC)

Many of you have probably already heard the heart-breaking news that Emma Chambers, comedic actress and star of The Vicar of Dibleypassed away last week at the age of 53. Reports state that she died unexpectedly of natural causes. She is survived by her husband of 26 years, actor Ian Dunn.

Born March 11, 1964, Emma began acting in college productions while attending her Winchester prep school and went on to train at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.

Chambers made her television debut inThe Rainbow, a 1988 BBC adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence novel of the same name. Other period roles followed namely as Charity Pecksniff in the 1994 mini-series of Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit and in the 1999 comedy film The Clandestine Marriage.

It was Ms. Chambers’ ability to embody quirky yet authentic characters, however, that earned her a British Comedy Award in 1998 and the genuine affection of audiences around the world.

Her most memorable film role is probably that of the eccentric Honey Thacker from 1999’s rom-com Notting Hill. The self-described feather-headed girl with the googly eyes gushes and overshares upon meeting Hollywood superstar Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) at a birthday dinner party in her honor.

Co-star Hugh Grant, who played Honey’s brother Will, expressed his condolences on Twitter.

Undoubtedly, however, it is the role of Alice Tinker-Horton from the much beloved sitcom The Vicar of Dibley that will be Chambers' greatest legacy. From 1994 to 1998, Emma stole the show as the naïve and sweetly simple-minded verger of St. Barnabas Church. She was the High Priestess of Quirk in a village already brimming with eccentric characters. And though her sheltered, childlike outlook on life could make her an irritant to her boss Geraldine (Dawn French), there was never any doubt Alice was loyal and could be amazingly wise from time to time.

Ms. French reminisced about her former colleague on Twitter as well.

I’d like to take a few moments to remember the brilliant talents of Emma Chambers through this, her most loved and maddest character.  I’ve tracked down a handful of clips from The Vicar of Dibley series and the specials that ran afterward.

Alice and Hugo's wedding complete with Teletubbies and a Spice Girls "hymm":

 

Alice, the protective bestie with a keen knowledge of Police song lyrics:

 

The vicar tells the jokes, but it's Alice's reaction that always gets the most laughs:

 

And last but not least, the the best Alice bit ever, the one about the butter:

 

Please feel free to share your memories about Emma Chambers. Her humor and talent will be greatly missed by her colleagues and fans around the world.