Mrs. Brown’s Boys was recently voted as the best sitcom of the 21th century thus far in a Radio Times online poll. For most sane human beings this would have come as an absolute outrage. Whilst a man dressing up as a woman can be genuinely funny (e.g. the late great Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire), Brendan O’Carroll’s efforts were nothing short of diabolical. So when this news came about I needed to raise my dampen spirits with a hilarious classic. Thus came the binge watching of Father Ted.
Before he graced the world with the brilliant Black Books and the equally fantastic The IT Crowd, Graham Linehan was focussing his attentions on his native Ireland. The series followed a household of priests and their kooky housekeeper on the fictional Craggy Island, each week finding themselves in awkward yet side-splitting scenarios.
The star of this show was Dermot Morgan who, as the titular Father Ted Crilly, would lead the fellow priests on their ridiculous exploits. Alongside him you had Father Dougal McGuire (Ardal O’Hanlon), a dim-witted but good-natured priest with occasional thoughts of atheism; Father Jack Hackett (Frank Kelly), a seemingly insane, alcoholic member of the clergy; and Mrs. Doyle (Pauline McLynn), the accident prone housekeeper who just wanted to provide all three with a delicious cup of tea.
To choose my favourite episode is a very difficult decision. There are many great episodes to choose from – including an episode which spoofs the Speed franchise, seeing a perverted milkman planting a bomb on a milk float that Father Dougal happens to be driving (and which he cannot drive slower than 4mph). However, it’s the Christmas Special that takes the accolade.
In what may be some of the greatest sitcom writing of all time, Father Ted must rescue a group of priests from being stranded in the lingerie section of a department store. The scene plays out in hilarious, tear-inducing fashion, and at times its treated as if it were a war movie like Platoon. Throw in some eye injuries from bra straps and some priests who are sure to suffer from PTSD and you strike comedy gold. This episode is so good in fact that it must be watched every Christmas, without fail.
Unfortunately, there will be no chance of a Father Ted reunion nowadays. Dermot Morgan would upsettingly pass away shortly after the show’s third season, and Frank Kelly a.k.a Father Jack passed last year.
But the sitcom has brought us some equally fantastic TV shows. Linehan would pick up steam to dominate the realm of the sitcom, and the show’s fantastic religious satire obviously played a big part in the creation of the brilliant Rev. Plus, thanks to re-runs and the arrival of Netflix, Father Ted is never too far away.
Created by: Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews
Written by: Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews
Directed by: Declan Mowney, Graham Linehan, Andy De Emmony
Cast: Dermot Morgan, Ardal O’Hanlon, Frank Kelly, Pauline McLynn
Channel: Channel 4
Number of Episodes: 25
Episode runtime: 23-25 mins