1 9 9 5 – 1 9 9 8 (UK)
24 x episodes
Fame-obsessed priest Father Ted Crilly (the late Dermot Morgan), tried to control his dim-witted novice colleague Father Dougal (Ardal O’Hanlon), and drunken, foul-mouthed Father Jack (Frank Kelly) while ministering to the folk of (fictitious) Craggy Island, just off the coast of Galway, Ireland, where the trio had been sent to keep them out of the public eye.
They were each in exile for different reasons: Ted for the embezzlement of a charity fund (the sick child hoping for a visit to Lourdes was deprived and Ted went to Las Vegas on the proceeds); Dougal for some incident involving nuns; and Jack for an unspecified wedding ceremony outrage.
The three lived in a particularly grim-looking parochial house (actually a building near Ennistymon, County Clare) where they were dutifully looked after by their equally bizarre housekeeper Mrs Doyle (Pauline McLynn), who was habitually oversolicitous with her offers of warm, refreshing beverages; “Have a cup of tea . . . ah go on, go on, go on, go on . . .”
The lead characters were like the Three Stooges with dog collars – a mix of violent cartoon slapstick and sweet, innocent stupidity.
Adding to this explosive mix were the inbred islanders who never failed to cause Ted grief, and occasional religious visitors like the phlegmatic, unentertainable Father Stone (Michael Redmond) and incessantly irritating Father Noel Furlong (Graham Norton before he found fame as a talk-show host and radio personality).
The Catholic church did not escape lightly in Father Ted – its conventions, sacred places and even its very creed were held up to ridicule, but always in a fashion that was so over the top that it had no grounding in reality.
The team had already decided to bring Father Ted to a close at the end of the third season, but the sudden death of Morgan from a heart attack soon after production ended, cast a shadow over the final episode.
Father Ted Crilly
Father Jack Hackett
Father Dougal McGuire
Father Noel Furlong
Father Paul Stone