Festival Comedy

As a comedy sitcom, FATHER TED broke the mould. As asupplier of many of this year’s Fringe highlights, It IS unparalleled In Its vastness.

::-'::s Mark Robertson

The all too brief career of Dermott Morgan, cut short by his untimely demise, left Father Ted on a creative and critical high that has only ever been matched by Fawlty Towers.

In one way the influx of Ted personnel to this year's Festival mirrors the way that post-Fawlty, the stars of the show went on to bigger and better things. Pauline McLynn, who played Ted’s scrambled housekeeper Mrs Doyle, has had her debut novel published and appears at the Book Festival, while Ardal O'Hanlon, who starred as the wildly confused Father Dougal, returns to his original vocation (also post-debut novel) for a few evenings of stand up. His career as a stand up took a huge leap once Father Ted became a success, but he is not the only one. Jason Byrne, Ed Byrne, Jo Rooney and Patrick McDonnell have all donned the cassock in roles as various beleaguered priests drawn into the weird and wonderful world of Ted, Dougal and Jack. Rooney and McDonnell went as far last year to build an entire Fringe show out of their characters in the programme and entitled it Further Ted. The most memorable co-star however, has to be Graham Norton, who stole the show in his part as a hyperactive twit priest in several episodes.

The success made the actors in Father Ted familiar faces to most, all that is except one. Most spectacular

of all transformations is that of Frank Kelly who plays gurls, drink ‘n‘ feckin’-obsessed Father Jack. He appears at the Gilded Balloon in Bile Yer Heid Theatre Company's A Funny Thing Happened. His transformation from a dishevelled jakey preacher to genial sane human being is a sight to behold in itself.

A chicken-and-egg-style debate emerges when looking at the fall out from Father Ted. Perhaps this ex-priest fest is testament to the quality of Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews’ scripts. On the other hand, the continued success of so many of the cast would suggest that they were all talented comedy performers anyway. Whatever the answer, their visit is definitely to our benefit. I Ed Byrne 1' rrge Fla, house, 08/0 (>06 9:12-97,

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