WHILE it probably does fall into the "gentle comedy" category, the TV version also descended into playful naughtiness at times, set in a picture postcard village inhabited by colourful characters who deliver priceless lines.
Another reason why I enjoyed it so much was it portrayed a woman of the cloth, in this case the Rev Geraldine Grainger as, shock horror, a real person with a love of chocolate and an eye for eligible men.
Martyn Preston's beautifully paced production certainly captures the warmth of the original, with the cast giving us a flavour of their small screen originals while, at the same time, putting their own stamp on these fabulous roles.
Janice Rendel's Geraldine is a northern lass, who enjoys a great rapport with the entire ensemble, particularly her barking but eminently lovable verger, Alice Tinker, a gift for Rosalind Ford, who revels in the role.
While the SAMT actors do put their own stamp on these parts, Stuart Sephton's Hugo Horton is remarkably like the TV incarnation, even down to his mannerisms. The scenes in which the hapless and hopeless Hugo, an embarrassment at times to his authoritarian dad David, are comedy gold.
Poor Geraldine finds herself attracting the amorous attentions of the disgusting farmer Owen Newitt, an outstanding Adam Garnett. Not only is Owen's personal hygiene poor, he thinks nothing of talking about bodily functions at the parish council meeting.
It probably helps if you know the TV version but, even if you don't, the chances are you'll be buying the DVDs after watching this. For Sale and Altrincham Musical Theatre this is a high water mark for a society brave enough to venture into new theatrical territory. Great fun, a triumph.
* At Altrincham Little Theatre until April 8. For tickets, call 07504 771051. Star rating - ****