An Island Parish Draws to a Close


Tonight we had the last part of An Island Parish which finished with Rev Guy Scott being licensed as Rector of the Isles of Scilly by the Bishop of St Germans – a service that in fact only took place a month or so ago, in fact after the series had started.

It’s certainly been an interesting series, and perhaps as I alluded to in my previous posting on the series a bit of an eye opener as to the workings of Church politics, and also the heart searching that both clergy and their families go through over where they are called to go. I have to say that I don’t think my question over quite at what point the film crew, as opposed to his parish in Mullion knew about the move has particularly been answered, although I’m well aware that I probably have more of an interest than the casual viewer. Having said that, after the obviously difficult times for Guy and his family shown in the earlier part of the series, his the people of Mullion were shown giving him a sterling send off in the programme last week, and a goodly number of them made the trip to Scilly for his licensing.

In terms of things that weren’t said on the programme, tonight’s episode produced another – the totally unacknowledged Bishop! Thanks to the relevant Diocesan Newsletter and the wonders of Google I was able to look up that the unidentified Bishop was the Rt Rev Roy Screech, who is the Suffragan Bishop of St Germans – although it looks like since there is only one Suffragan (as compared to the three we have in the Oxford Diocese) he is referred to much of the time as Bishop Bill’s deputy. I suspect the reason for it not being mentioned is that Bishop Bill has been the only Bishop mentioned in the series so far, so it was probably regarded as being confusing – but anyway, it would have been nice to know who the person taking the service actually was!

The programme showed a number of the traditional parts of the licensing service, including the ceremonial getting of the key, followed by the point where the new Rector really gets the keys, and also when the new Rector goes and rings the Church bell. They also showed some of the various welcomes from the various visiting dignitaries. It also finished with some reflections on the new rector from Bishop Bill as a nice epilogue for the programme.

Looking around the internet, there is a lot more about the programme now. When it started, the BBC and Tiger Aspect still had Seaside Parish pages, and there wasn’t much on any of the Scilly sites, and just a small item on the Diocesan site. Somewhat embarrassingly for someone who lives near Reading and has never been to Scilly, my previous posting has been coming out pretty high up, if not top in most of the relevant Google searches, and picking up quite a few hits. The majority of the time it has coming above some of the more official pages about the programme and the relevant parishes!

There is a nice posting reporting on the licensing service with a couple of pictures over at the Isles of Scilly Photos site, there is also a nice introduction from Bishop Bill on the Diocesan site.

There has also been a bit of controversy about the programme on the ScillyNews site with the local Methodist church. Although Rev David Easton, the Methodist Minister appears briefly a couple of times, a number of the island Methodists – a larger Church in terms of membership – haven’t been happy that the support that their Church offered during the vacancy hasn’t really been acknowledged. Although Rev Donald and Rev Margaret Marr, the couple appointed as house for duty priests during the vacancy featured quite prominently, the contribution of Rev David in taking services wasn’t mentioned (although I seem to recall that you do see him taking a funeral earlier in the series). Again I suspect this is down to the same reasons as the Bishop of St Germans doesn’t get a mention – trying to keep it simple, and only have a limited number of characters being covered. It is worth highlighting though that the introduction from Bishop Bill makes the Methodist contribution clear, even if it is not clear in the programme.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the programme, and it has certainly been an entertaining introduction to life on Scilly – and has produced some interesting comments from people outside the Church such as this reviewer who described the programme as a cross between Castaway and Pop Idol… I’m certainly looking forward to finding out how Rev Guy settles in to his new role when the series returns next year. Hopefully a month in things are going well for him and his family, and they are all getting used to their new life on the islands.

4 thoughts on “An Island Parish Draws to a Close”

  1. Have you pinched my picture, sir? It was a painfully extracted screencap from the dvd. Seriously, I’m joking, I don’t mind at all, especially as you have generously linked to the website.

    Just to say I’ve really enjoyed your comments about the programme. I’m hoping to do an interview with Rev Scott to see how he’s getting on in the next few days, and also Nigel Farrell (if they’ll talk to me). And it’s good to know there’ll be another series.

    All the best.

  2. Yes indeed 😳 – my usual source of pictures for this sorts of things on Flickr is surprisingly somewhat lacking in Scilly island pictures including places related to the series, and yours was a definite improvement over the other publicity shots that were floating around, and a lot quicker than pulling an equivalent shot off our recording on the Sky+!

    I’ll certainly be interested to hear how Rev Guy is getting on – it’s always a bit of a change starting in a new parish, and doing so in the glare of public attention is probably more so. You also, as the priests in the previous series have discovered find yourself doing pastoral work on a national scale alongside the work in your own parish. An interview with Nigel Farrell will certainly be interesting too, particularly hearing about the mechanics of putting the programme together and building the ‘storylines’. Watching it you do get the impression that storylines are shuffled somewhat in order to balance the episodes.

  3. I was most interested in the part of An Island Parish which was about the new vicar and his relationship with church members and islanders. Bishop Bill is such an interesting character too. It was pointed out on Premier Christian Radio that Scilly also has a Methodist vicar. It would be interesting if you could include his/her work on ‘An Island Parish’ too and of any other other churches on Scilly.
    The whole series on different parishes has been lovely, particularly the first series about a town vicar taking up a post in a rural area and his care for animals and people. Could we have more of these “Parish” series please, in different areas of the country – rich and poor, rural and suburban.

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