Father Ted

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Father Ted
Alt=Series title over the sea
GenreSitcom
Created by
Written by
  • Graham Linehan
  • Arthur Mathews
Directed by
  • Declan Lowney
    (series 1–2, Christmas special)
  • Graham Linehan
    (series 3, location)
  • Andy De Emmony
    (series 3, studio)
Starring
Opening theme"Songs of Love" (instrumental)
Composer(s)The Divine Comedy
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series3
No. of episodes25 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Mary Bell
Producer(s)
CinematographyEugene O'Connor
Camera setupMultiple-camera
Running time23–25 minutes
Production company(s)Hat Trick Productions
Broadcast
Original channelChannel 4 (UK)
Picture formatPAL (576i)
Audio formatStereophonic
Original run21 April 1995 (1995-04-21) – 1 May 1998 (1998-05-01)
External links
Website
 
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Father Ted
Alt=Series title over the sea
GenreSitcom
Created by
Written by
  • Graham Linehan
  • Arthur Mathews
Directed by
  • Declan Lowney
    (series 1–2, Christmas special)
  • Graham Linehan
    (series 3, location)
  • Andy De Emmony
    (series 3, studio)
Starring
Opening theme"Songs of Love" (instrumental)
Composer(s)The Divine Comedy
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series3
No. of episodes25 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Mary Bell
Producer(s)
CinematographyEugene O'Connor
Camera setupMultiple-camera
Running time23–25 minutes
Production company(s)Hat Trick Productions
Broadcast
Original channelChannel 4 (UK)
Picture formatPAL (576i)
Audio formatStereophonic
Original run21 April 1995 (1995-04-21) – 1 May 1998 (1998-05-01)
External links
Website

Father Ted is a sitcom that was produced by independent production company Hat Trick Productions for British broadcaster Channel 4. Written jointly by Irish writers Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan and starring a predominantly Irish cast, it originally aired over three series from 21 April 1995 until 1 May 1998, including a Christmas special, for a total of 25 episodes. The show also aired on RTÉ Two in Ireland, and in Australia on Nine Network (season 1) and ABC Television (seasons 2 and 3).

Set on the fictional Craggy Island, a remote location off Ireland's west coast, the show starred Dermot Morgan as the eponymous Father Ted Crilly, alongside fellow priests Father Dougal McGuire (Ardal O'Hanlon) and Father Jack Hackett (Frank Kelly). Exiled on the island for various past incidents, the priests live together in the parochial house with their housekeeper Mrs. Doyle (Pauline McLynn).

The show was critically acclaimed, receiving multiple BAFTA awards. The series also featured a number of contemporary Irish actors and comedians, including Dervla Kirwan, Graham Norton, Tommy Tiernan, Patrick McDonnell, Don Wycherley, Joe Rooney, Jason Byrne, Jim Norton, Pat Shortt, Jon Kenny, Niall Buggy, Ed Byrne, Brendan Grace, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and Gerard McSorley.

Synopsis[edit]

The show follows the misadventures of three Roman Catholic priests who live in a parish on the fictional Craggy Island, located off the west coast of Ireland. Father Ted Crilly, Father Dougal McGuire and Father Jack Hackett live chaotically together in Craggy Island's parochial house, along with their housekeeper Mrs Doyle, who always wants to serve them tea.

The three priests answer to Bishop Len Brennan, who has banished them to Craggy Island as punishment for different incidents in their past: Ted for alleged financial impropriety (apparently involving some money 'resting' in his account and a child being deprived a visit to Lourdes so that Ted could go to Las Vegas), Dougal for something only referred to as the "Blackrock Incident" (resulting in many "lives irreparably damaged"), and Jack for his alcoholism and womanising.

The show revolves around the priests' lives on Craggy Island, sometimes dealing with matters of the church but more often dealing with Father Ted's schemes to either resolve a situation with the parish or other Craggy Island residents, or to win games of one-upmanship against his nemesis, Father Dick Byrne of the nearby Rugged Island parish.

Characters[edit]

Episodes[edit]

Production[edit]

Writing[edit]

Graham spent a lot of time listening to the Pixies and watching Taxi Driver. When I knew him first, it was like he'd never been outside the house, except to go to see Star Wars films, so his influences were never that Irish, whereas I grew up in the country... I remember Frank Kelly and Hall's Pictorial Weekly. He did a show called The Glen Abbey Show, which was very funny. So I was always aware of the strangeness and madness of Irish things.

Arthur Mathews, The Tom Dunne Show, 12 October 2012[1]

Linehan and Mathews first met while working at Hot Press.[2] With Paul Woodfull, they formed a band called The Joshua Trio. The trio began writing comedy sketches to accompany their act. Mathews created the Father Ted character for his short-lived stand-up routine. Before The Joshua Trio played at gigs, Mathews would occasionally come on-stage as Father Ted and tell jokes involving his great friend, Father Dougal McGuire.[3]

In 1991, Mathews left his job at Hot Press and moved into Linehan's London home. Over the next three to four years, they worked on rough ideas for shows. One of these ideas was for a comedy mockumentary series called Irish Lives, with six episodes, each focusing on a different character living somewhere in Ireland. They scripted an episode centring on a priest named Father Ted Crilly, who visits his friends in the seminary in Maynooth College. Producer Geoffrey Perkins suggested that the episode's concept be dramatised and rewritten as a sitcom.[3][4]

Mathews was originally intended to play Ted, but decided he lacked the acting ability the role required. Dermot Morgan was cast, having previously played a priest in stand-up as "Father Trendy".

The show was pitched directly to the UK's Hat Trick Productions and Channel 4 by the duo, contrary to rumours that RTÉ (the Irish national broadcaster) were originally offered the series but rejected it.[5][6]

Recording[edit]

Three series and one Christmas special were completed. In addition, Morgan and O'Hanlon hosted an hour of Comic Relief in character, during which Kelly and McLynn also made brief guest appearances. One day after the shooting of series three wrapped, Dermot Morgan died of a heart attack, aged 45. As a mark of respect, the third series was first broadcast a week later than originally planned.

Just weeks before his death Morgan said that he did not want to continue playing the role of Father Ted for fear of being typecast: "I don't want to be the next Clive Dunn and end up playing the same character for years."[7]

Following Morgan's death, the production company received calls from numerous agents and casting directors suggesting either new actors for the role of Ted or spin-offs without the character; Linehan and Mathews declined all offers.[8]

Music[edit]

In 1994, Linehan contacted Neil Hannon, frontman of Northern Irish chamber pop band The Divine Comedy, and asked him to compose the music for Father Ted. His first effort, a jaunty composition, was rejected. Hannon composed a second theme, which the team found acceptable. Both themes were reworked, with new lyrics, for inclusion on The Divine Comedy's 1996 album Casanova: the final Father Ted theme became "Songs of Love", while Hannon's rejected theme became "A Woman of the World".[9][10]

In 2010, Linehan discussed the dramatic effect this choice had on the tone of the series: "'Woman of the World' was kind of like a jaunty, plinky-plonky song, and we wanted that song. He [Hannon] gave us two choices: he gave us that, and "Songs of Love", and we wanted the plinky-plonky song, because our idea was we were making fun of sitcoms. We were saying, you know, we don't like sitcoms. This is a parody of sitcoms. This is a kind of satire on sitcoms. And I remember Geoffrey [Perkins] looking really glum and sad about this, you know? And then he said, 'Why do you want to make fun of your characters?' He said, 'People will love these characters.' And that was just a real revelation for me, and after that, whatever he said went, as far as I was concerned."[11]

The Divine Comedy also contributed most of the show's original music, including the songs "Big Men in Frocks" (for the episode "Rock-a-Hula Ted"), "My Lovely Horse" and "The Miracle is Mine" (for "A Song for Europe"), and "My Lovely Mayo Mammy" (for "Night of the Nearly Dead").[12] Neil Hannon also provided Ted and Dougal's vocals in the dream sequence version of "My Lovely Horse", which later appeared as a B-side on the band's single "Gin Soaked Boy".

Location[edit]

The house used for external shots of the parochial house (2006)

Location work for Father Ted was done mostly in County Clare, including locations at Corofin, Ennis, Kilfenora, Ennistymon, and Kilnaboy. The Parochial House is McCormack's at Glenquin, on the Boston road from Kilnaboy.[13][14] The cinema featured in "The Passion of St Tibulus" was the Ormonde Cinema, Greystones, County Wicklow[15] and "The Field", the location for Funland in "Good Luck, Father Ted", is in Portrane, North County Dublin. The 'Very Dark Caves' featured in "The Mainland" were the Aillwee caves in the Burren, County Clare.

Some exterior shots for the episode "And God Created Woman" were filmed in Dún Laoghaire, South County Dublin. The opening sequence (including shots of the Plassey ship wreck) were filmed over Inis Oírr – the smallest of the Aran Islands. The interior scenes were recorded at the ITV Studios facilities in central London in front of a live studio audience.

Comedy style[edit]

The series is set in a humorously surreal world in which Ted is the only fully rounded "normal" character among "caricatures", according to Graham Linehan: "exaggerated-over-friendly, over-quiet, over-stupid, over-dull [...] they really only got one thing, they've got one job."[16] Embarrassment plays a role in many storylines, in a similar fashion to Fawlty Towers. Linehan says, "if Ted is in a situation that is slightly embarrassing we get him out of it [...] by having him lying or cheating, basically digging a massive hole for himself".[16] Arthur Mathews has described Seinfeld as a major influence on the comedy of Father Ted, with himself and Linehan being "big fans" of the show.[17] Father Ted also contains references to pop culture, and some film parodies, such as the episode "Speed 3".

Regarding the series's religious content, Linehan says "Ted doesn't have an anti-religious view of life, but a non-religious view. It's a job to him. He doesn't care about religion." While writing, he says the show's creators imagined Ted and Dougal as "just two people who happen to be [priests]".[16]

Critical reception[edit]

Father Ted is one of the most popular sitcoms in British television history.[18]

In 1996 and 1999, the show won the BAFTA award for Best Comedy, while Morgan also won Best Comedy Performance.[19] In 1995 the show won Best New TV Comedy at the British Comedy Awards, with O'Hanlon receiving Top TV Comedy Newcomer Award. At the 1996 British Comedy Awards the show won Top Channel 4 Sitcom Award, McLynn took the Top TV Comedy Actress award.[20] In 1997 the show was given the Best Channel 4 Sitcom Award.

In August 2012, Channel 4 viewers voted the series as the No 1 in C4's 30 Greatest Comedy Shows.[21]

Legacy[edit]

In January 2007 a dispute arose between Inis Oírr (pop. 250) and Inis Mór (pop. 1,200) over which island can claim to be Craggy Island, and thereby host a three-day Friends of Ted Festival.[22][23] It was decided that in appropriate Father Ted fashion the dispute would be settled by a five-a-side football match held on 25 February 2007.[24] This was won by Inis Mór in a 2–0 match[23] allowing them to use the title of Craggy Island until February 2008, while Inis Oírr was given the title of Rugged Island. The Friends of Ted Festival, better known as Ted Fest, has been held annually as Father Ted fan convention since 2007 after the show achieved a cult following.

As of May 2012, the show is being repeated on More4 and RTÉ Two. All three series have been available through the OnDemand service of Virgin Media in the UK but now they have only one series at a time, switching between the three. As of February 2012, series one and two and the Christmas Special are available on 4oD.[25] BBC Two showed an episode on 8 November 2008[26] as part of its tribute night to producer Geoffrey Perkins, who had died just over two months before.[not in citation given]

In 2001, Pauline McLynn reprised her role as Mrs Doyle in a run of advertisements for the Inland Revenue, reminding people to get their taxes in on time by uttering her catchphrase from the programme ('Go on, go on' repeated over and over again). It was later voted as the worst advert of the year.[27] In the same year, Ardal O'Hanlon returned to the role of Father Dougal for a series of PBS advertisements to coincide with Father Ted's American broadcast; these segments were included on later DVD releases as "Fundraising with Father Dougal".[28][29] In 2012, Frank Kelly made a brief appearance as Father Jack on The Graham Norton Show.[30]

The series has been referred to in regard to lack of political policy. Speaking in Carlow in June 2010, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Green Party leader John Gormley said the Labour Party is coming very close to being the "Father Ted of Irish politics" because, according to Gormley, they have no policies.[31]

On 1 January 2011, a night dedicated to the show was screened by Channel 4 from 9pm to 11pm in celebration of its 15th anniversary year.[32][33] This included the nation's and the writers' favourite episodes plus a documentary of the cast and creators that revisited the show's locations. Pauline McLynn decided not to take part in the documentary.[34] The show was also dedicated to Dermot Morgan.[35] This documentary and another (Father Ted: Unintelligent Design and Small, Far Away – The World Of Father Ted) followed by the episode Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse were repeated again on Channel 4 late in the evening of 26 December 2011.

Potential remake[edit]

In July 2003, it was announced that Father Ted would be remade for the American market. The remake would be scripted by Spike Feresten, who previously wrote for US sitcoms Seinfeld and The Simpsons. Ferensten stated: "I was raised Catholic and this show just felt right to me. The essence of the show is about men who are also priests and, as men, they have many foibles." Hat Trick founders Denise O'Donoghue and Jimmy Mulville were set to produce. The US production company was Pariah Productions, which previously adapted The Kumars at No. 42 for an American audience.[36] The project did not materialise.

In November 2007, a separate American remake was announced. Rather than Craggy Island, this version would be set in a misfortunate fishing village in New England. American actor John Michael Higgins was cast as Ted, but expressed concerns about the show's religious themes: "The English have a very robust history of being unkind about religion. We don't have that in our country, we're frightened of it. It's basically that you guys are doing an Irish joke also, we don't have that. So I'll be Father Ted, we'll see how it goes." Filming was scheduled to begin in January 2008,[37] but like the previous attempt, the project stalled.

Home video[edit]

United States[edit]

U.S. Releases
TitleFormatEpisodesRelease dateRating
Volume 1VHS315 May 2001Not Rated
Volume 2VHS315 May 2001Not Rated
Volume 3VHS35 March 2002Not Rated
Volume 4VHS35 March 2002Not Rated
A Christmassy TedVHS117 September 2002Not Rated
The Complete Series 1DVD65 June 2001Not Rated
The Complete Series 2DVD105 March 2002Not Rated
The Complete Series 3DVD94 March 2003Not Rated
The Holy TrilogyDVD252 March 2004Not Rated

United Kingdom[edit]

UK Releases
TitleFormatEpisodesRelease dateRating
Series 1 - The Opening ChaptersVHS321 October 1996 15 
Series 1 - The Closing ChaptersVHS3 15 
The Second Sermon - Chapter 1VHS3 15 
The Second Sermon - Chapter 2VHS320 October 1997 15 
5 Hilarious EpisodesVHS515 November 1999 15 
The Final RevelationsVHS827 November 2000 15 
The Very Best of Father TedVHS52 November 1998 15 
The Complete 1st SeriesVHS & DVD620 August 2001 15 
Series 2 - Part 1VHS & DVD615 October 2001 15 
Series 2 - Part 2VHS & DVD525 February 2002 12 
The Complete 3rd SeriesVHS & DVD820 May 2002 15 
The Very Best of Father TedDVD618 November 2002 15 
The Complete SeriesDVD2520 November 2002 15 
The Definitive CollectionDVD2529 October 2007 15 
A Christmassy TedDVD119 October 2009 12 
The Complete BoxsetDVD2512 November 2012 15 
Series 1DVD611 March 2013 15 
Series 2DVD1111 March 2013 15 
Series 3DVD811 March 2013 15 

Australia[edit]

Australian Releases
TitleFormatEpisodesRelease dateRating
The Complete 1st SeriesDVD618 August 2003 M 
Series 2 - Part 1DVD6August 2003 PG 
Series 2 - Part 2DVD5September 2003 M 
The Complete 3rd SeriesDVD8Late 2003 M 
The Definitive CollectionDVD255 November 2007 M 
The Complete 1st SeriesDVD62010 M 
The Complete 2nd SeriesDVD112010 M 
The Complete 3rd SeriesDVD82010 M 

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fr Ted creator talks about the time he received mass in a car". newstalk.ie. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Thompson, Ben (2010). Sunshine on Putty: The Golden Age of British Comedy from Vic Reeves to The Office (eBook). Harper Collins. p. 289. ISBN 9780007375530. Retrieved June 22, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b O'Malley, JP. "Graham Linehan: 'Father Ted was a specific kind of magic'". irishpost.ie. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Feay, Suzi (10 August 1997). "HOW WE MET: ARTHUR MATHEWS AND GRAHAM LINEHAN". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  5. ^ Whitaker, Ross (6 October 2010). "Issue 134 – Master of Comedy (extract)". Film Ireland. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  6. ^ Arthur, Charles (27 May 2012). "Graham Linehan: Twitter has made me". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "Father Ted star dies". BBC News UK. 1 March 1998. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  8. ^ Young, Bill (25 May 2010). "No more Father Ted, with or without Dermot Morgan". tellyspotting.org. Retrieved 28 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "Father Ted Theme". ashortsite.com. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  10. ^ As stated by Neil Hannon in the documentary Half Minute Melodies, BBC Radio 4, 3 February 2000. Hannon offered a choice of tunes to the producers; his personal preference was for "Woman of the World".
  11. ^ IFTAAwards (13 September 2010). "Graham Lineahn In Conversation With ... IFTA (Part Two)". youtube.com. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  12. ^ "Father Ted". ashortsite.com. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  13. ^ McCormack's at Glenquin used for external shots of the parochial house in the Father Ted TV series 53°00′35″N 9°01′48″W / 53.00976°N 9.02998°W / 53.00976; -9.02998
  14. ^ "Father Ted FEQ". Feck.net. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  15. ^ http://cinematreasures.org/theater/22717/
  16. ^ a b c "A Peak Inside the Craggy Island Examiner", by Stacey Baird Spirit of Genovia, c1997 (Retrieved 23 November 2011)
  17. ^ "A return to Craggy Island", by Arthur Mathews, Irish Times, 31 December 2010 (Retrieved 23 November 2011)
  18. ^ Bex, T, Burke, M. & Stockwell, P. Contextualized Stylistics: In Honour of Peter Verdonk. Rodopi Publishers.
  19. ^ "British Academy of Film and Television Arts Past Nominations 1995". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 2 November 2010. ; "British Academy of Film and Television Arts Past Nominations 1998". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 2 November 2010. 
  20. ^ "British Comedy Awards Past Winners 1996". Retrieved 2 November 2010. 
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ "Craggy islands row over Father Ted". BBC News. 22 January 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2010. 
  23. ^ a b Owen Bowcott (26 February 2007). "Drink! Footy! Girls! It's the Father Ted fest". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 November 2010. 
  24. ^ "Peace plan for Craggy Island row". BBC News. 25 January 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2010. 
  25. ^ "Father Ted". Series & Episodes. Channel 4. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  26. ^ "Two Programmes – Father Ted". BBC. 8 November 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  27. ^ Tania Branigan (4 January 2002). "Mrs Doyle's ad taxes patience of viewers". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  28. ^ "Dougal Maguire". YouTube. 30 December 2006. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  29. ^ "Father Ted: The Holy Trilogy". bbcamericashop.com. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  30. ^ "Graham Norton Reunited With Father Jack". YouTube. 14 November 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  31. ^ Labour 'Fr Ted of Irish politics' says Gormley. RTÉ. 28 June 2010
  32. ^ "A return to Craggy Island". Irish Times. 31 December 2001. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  33. ^ "New Adrian McCarthy Doc is Ecumenical Matter". iftn.ie. 23 December 2001. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  34. ^ "Ted". Pauline McLynn. 2 January 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  35. ^ "In Ted We Trust". RTÉ Entertainment. 4 January 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  36. ^ Cozens, Claire (1 July 2003). "Father Ted crosses the pond". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  37. ^ Franklin, Garth (26 November 2007). "Higgins In US Father Ted Remake". darkhorizons.com. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]