Dermot Morgan

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Dermot Morgan
BornDermot John Morgan
(1952-03-31)31 March 1952
Dublin, Ireland
Died28 February 1998(1998-02-28) (aged 45)
Hounslow, London, England
Cause of deathHeart attack
Resting placeDeansgrange Cemetery, South County Dublin
NationalityIrish
EthnicityIrish
EducationUniversity College Dublin (UCD)
OccupationActor, stand-up comedian
Years active1979-1998
TelevisionFather Ted
ReligionNone (atheist)[1]
Spouse(s)Susanne Morgan
Partner(s)Fiona Clarke
ChildrenThree sons: 2 (Don & Rob) by Susanne,
1 (Ben) by Fiona
 
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Dermot Morgan
BornDermot John Morgan
(1952-03-31)31 March 1952
Dublin, Ireland
Died28 February 1998(1998-02-28) (aged 45)
Hounslow, London, England
Cause of deathHeart attack
Resting placeDeansgrange Cemetery, South County Dublin
NationalityIrish
EthnicityIrish
EducationUniversity College Dublin (UCD)
OccupationActor, stand-up comedian
Years active1979-1998
TelevisionFather Ted
ReligionNone (atheist)[1]
Spouse(s)Susanne Morgan
Partner(s)Fiona Clarke
ChildrenThree sons: 2 (Don & Rob) by Susanne,
1 (Ben) by Fiona

Dermot John Morgan (31 March 1952 – 28 February 1998)[2] was an Irish comedian, actor and previously a schoolteacher, who achieved international renown for his role as Father Ted Crilly in the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted.

Personal life[edit]

Morgan was married to Susanne, with whom he had two sons; Don (born 1978) and Rob (born 1980).[3] He later began a relationship with Fiona Clarke, with whom he had another son, Ben (born 1993).[3]

Father Trendy and The Live Mike[edit]

Born in Dublin and educated at Oatlands College, Stillorgan, and University College, Dublin (U.C.D.), Morgan first came to prominence as part of the team of the highly successful RTÉ television show The Live Mike, presented by Mike Murphy. The Morning Ireland radio show was where Dermot made his debut in the media. The show was produced at the time by Gene Martin whose sister Ella was the mother of one of Dermot's friends. It was through this contact that Dermot connected with the radio show and eventually found the break into radio and eventually television. [4] Between 1979 and 1984 Morgan, previously a full-time teacher at St. Michael's College, Ailesbury Road, played a range of comic characters, who would appear between segments, including Father Trendy, an unctuous trying-to-be-cool Catholic priest given to drawing ludicrous parallels with non-religious life in two-minute 'chats' to camera. He also played (among other characters) an intolerant GAA bigot, who would wave his hurley around aggressively while verbally attacking his pet hates. He lampooned The Wolfe Tones' song "A Nation Once Again" by singing of a dog who saves his Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) master by eating a grenade during a search by the Black and Tans. When the dog farts and the grenade detonates, the British commented that, "It must have been something he ate." The song climaxed with the words, "I hope that I shall live to see Fido an Alsatian once again."

Morgan's success led him to quit teaching and become a full-time comedian.

Kenny Live[edit]

His relationship with RTÉ, however, became difficult, as the station tried without success to find some way of making use of what it saw as Morgan's considerable but undisciplined talent; a number of attempts in the form of 'pilot' shows never aired. Morgan returned to the screen in the late 1980s playing his past roles and new ones - initially on Kenny Live, a new Saturday chat show presented by Pat Kenny which launched to fill the gap in the schedules left when The Late Late Show moved to a new Friday slot. However, the show axed its comedy slot when it changed its format in response to negative public responses to the show's structure.

Mr. Eastwood[edit]

Morgan moved into a new area when he released a comedy single in December 1985, called "Thank you very very much, Mr. Eastwood",[2] a take on the fawning praise of his manager given after bouts by internationally successful Irish boxer Barry McGuigan, which 'featured' lines by McGuigan, Ronald Reagan, Bob Geldof and Pope John Paul II.[5] The song was the Christmas number one in the Irish singles chart in 1985.[6]

Scrap Saturday[edit]

Morgan's biggest Irish broadcasting success occurred in the late 1980s in the Saturday morning radio comedy show, Scrap Saturday,[2] in which Morgan, co-scriptwriter Gerard Stembridge, Owen Roe and Pauline McLynn mocked Ireland's political, business and media establishment. In particular the relationship between the Taoiseach, the ever-controversial Charles Haughey, and his press secretary, P. J. Mara, became very popular, with Haughey's dismissive attitude towards the latter and Mara's adoring and grovelling attitude towards the "Boss . . . the greatest Leader, Man of Destiny, Statesman, Titan, a Colossus", winning critical praise.

Morgan pilloried Haughey's propensity for claiming a family connection to almost every part of Ireland he visited through the mocking use of a famous drinks advertisement for an Irish beer called Harp, which had played on the image of someone returning home and seeking friends, especially "Sally O'Brien, and the way she might look at you". In the Morgan skit version, Haughey's visits to somewhere in the world, from Dublin to Dubai and elsewhere, would invariably cue after a few seconds the traditional music of the real advertisement, at which Haughey would begin "did I tell you, P.J., about my cousins in . . . " And he would begin discussing "my cousin François Haughey" (France), "Helmut Haughey" (Germany), "Yassar Haughey" (Palestine), "Yitzak Haughey" (Israel) or wherever, to the increasingly despairing Mara, who would groan "Ah now Jaysus, Boss. Come on now, Ah Jaysus (sigh)!"

The Haughey/Mara "double act" became the star turn in a series that mocked all sides, from Haughey and his advisors to opposition Fine Gael TD Michael Noonan as a Limerick disk jockey called "Morning Noon'an Night" and a host of other characters. When RTÉ axed the show in the early 1990s a national outcry ensued. Morgan lashed the decision, calling it "a shameless act of broadcasting cowardice and political subservience". An RTÉ spokesman famously said "The show is not being axed, it's just not being continued!"

In 1991, Morgan received a Jacob's Award for his contribution to Scrap Saturday from the Irish national newspaper radio critics.

Father Ted[edit]

Although already a celebrity in Ireland, Morgan's big break came over in Britain in the shape of the title-role in the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted, which ran for three series from 1995. Writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews saw many actors for the role of Father Ted, but Morgan's enthusiasm eventually won him the role.

Father Ted centred on three disparate characters. Father Ted Crilly, played by Morgan, was living a frustrated life trapped on the island. Irish TV comedy actor Frank Kelly played the retired Father Jack Hackett, a foul-mouthed and apparently brain-damaged alcoholic, while child-minded Father Dougal McGuire was played by new Irish comedian Ardal O'Hanlon. In addition to the three priests was their housekeeper, Mrs. Doyle, played by Pauline McLynn, with whom Morgan had worked on Scrap Saturday.

BAFTA Award[edit]

Father Ted earned wide popularity and critical acclaim. In 1998 the show won a BAFTA award for Best Comedy, while Morgan won a BAFTA for Best Actor, and McLynn the Best Actress award. Apart from the main characters, many other successful side characters featured, including the camp hyperactive Father Noel Furlong, played by Irish comedian and talk show host Graham Norton.[7][better source needed]

Unrealised works[edit]

Morgan said in a 1996 interview with Gay Byrne on The Late Late Show that he was writing a screenplay entitled Miracle of the Magyars, and based on a real-life incident in the 1950s when the Archbishop of Dublin forbade Catholics from attending a football match between Ireland and Yugoslavia on religious and spiritual grounds. Yugoslavia won the match 4-1. Morgan, however, planned to use Hungary as the opposing side to Ireland—hence the title. At the time of his death he had completed the screenplay but the film was never made.

Morgan's first project after Father Ted was set to be Re-united, a sitcom about two retired footballers sharing a flat in London. According to former manager John Fischer, Morgan was scripting the programme and planned to star as "an Eamon Dunphy-type who had gone on to do journalism after soccer, but who had ended up living with an old football pal". Mel Smith was in talks for the role of the friend.[8]

Death and legacy[edit]

The 'Joker's Chair', a memorial to actor Dermot Morgan in Merrion Square, Dublin
Dermot Morgan's Grave in Deansgrange Cemetery, south County Dublin

After the recording of the third series of Father Ted had been completed, Morgan intended to work on a new comedy series, based around two retired football players living in a small flat together. However, 24 hours after finishing the recording of the last episode of Father Ted, Morgan had a heart attack while hosting a dinner party at his south-west London home. He was rushed to the hospital but died soon after in Hounslow, London.

Frank Kelly said of his acting colleague: "Dermot's mind was mercurial. I think he was a kind of comedic meteor. He burned himself out."

Morgan's Requiem Mass in St. Therese's Church in his native Mount Merrion, south Dublin, was attended by, among others, President of Ireland Mary McAleese, her predecessor, Mary Robinson, and by the leaders of Ireland's church and state—many of whom had been the victims of Morgan's humour in Scrap Saturday. He was cremated at Glasnevin Cemetery, and his ashes were later buried in the family plot in Deansgrange Cemetery.[9]

Appearances[edit]

Television[edit]

Radio[edit]

Film[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Father Ted actor Dermot Morgan has died". ITN Online (archived). Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Hayward, Anthony (2 March 1998). "Obituary: Dermot Morgan". The Independent. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "My dad was Fr Ted (and I still miss him terribly)". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). 5 March 2009. Retrieved 5 March 2009. 
  4. ^ Dermot Morgan Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 2011
  5. ^ New Island Books, 1998.
  6. ^ Irish Charts website
  7. ^ Dermot Morgan findagrave.com. Retrieved march 2011
  8. ^ Sweeney, Ken (23 July 2013). "Mel and Dermot had show lined up". herald.ie. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "Dermot Morgan Tribute". dmtribute.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Retrieved March 2011.