He made his name as the daft cleric Dougal in Father Ted, but there’s more to ARDAL O’HANLON than a glazed expression of fawn-like innocence. As he sets off on tour again, we find out why he hates New Zealand.
Which time in history would you love to have Hved?
During the Enlightenment. I'd like to have lived in Paris around the time of the French Revolution. I‘d like to have been an Irish man in Paris, because I like the foppish clothes. I‘ve never been to the opera in my life. but I like the idea of going every night and talking about the great debate. I think it was probably the most exciting time in history. What was the last thing you stole?
| used to steal those Panini football cards when I was a kid. That was the only thing I ever really stole habitually because I was desperate to complete my collection and we had very little pocket money in our house. We weren't encouraged to steal either, but I was a bit of a completist.
What’s the most rock’n’roll thing you’ve done today?
I left my kids off at school in Dublin this morning, and then jumped on a plane to London. Is that
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rock'n’roll any more? Mick Jagger does that sometimes.
How many times a day do you look in the mirror?
I look in the mirror. I look in spoons, I look in the reflection of car bumpers. I‘m always looking, just to see if I'm still there.
What’s your least favourite country?
Probably New Zealand. I found it desperately dull. I'm not a hiker and I don’t like woolly socks. l was on a tour there and had a week off, so I went to a casino in Auckland and luckily won loads of money, went to a travel agent the next morning and said: ‘Take us as far away from New Zealand as you can for a week.’ And we ended up in the Cook Islands, and that was worse. That was the most boring holiday I’ve ever had. I need life, I need culture. i need coffee. They just had a big roast pig.
Your house is on fire, loved ones and pets are safe. You have a chance to go and retrieve one thing, what would it be?
Probably Astral Weeks by Van Morrison, or a really good bottle of wine.
If you could wake up tomorrow and have a new ability, what would it be?
To play the harp. I think you could seduce any woman with a harp. You could foster peace in any conflict with a harp.
What’s your biggest regret?
That I didn't dance more as a child. That I didn’t play football more vigorously.
What song would you hate to be played at your funeral?
Anything by Chris de Burgh. l have a long-running feud with him, which started with me slagging him off in the newspaper. He wrote to me and I wrote back to him. And since then. even though I don’t think he’s such a bad person, I’m just so childish l have to keep denigrating him at every opportunity. What’s your favourite biscuit?
I don’t know if you get them in Scotland — Kimberley Mikado and Coconut Creams. I've always liked Fig Rolls and fancy minty biscuits. What would be your ideal birthday present? It’d have to be wine. I never would buy myself a really great bottle, I’m too puritanical at heart for that. But I would encourage anyone who likes me to splash loads of money on wine.
When did you last laugh out loud while reading a book?
It’s a bit crap, but I brought back one of my daughter’s Pippi Longstockings from Sweden, and there are a few funny pages in that. I did like that Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. The first time that character with the funny English comes in it’s really funny.
Can you cook? What’s your signature dish?
I found an Indonesian cook book, so I do a sort of beef in soy sauce, which sounds a bit plain and crap. but it‘s really gorgeous.
Who would you like to see playing you in the film of your life?
I‘d like to see Colin Farrell, and he definitely wouldn't do it. So who would do it? Who’s desperate? Paddy Kielty.
When did you last dance?
At my friend’s 40th birthday party about two weeks ago. to Echo and the Bunnymen. You know, harking back to the 805. We're all 40 this year, we're having a lot of that shit again. I'm rubbish; it's my conservative upbringing: no singing, dancing or sudden movements in our house.
What’s your all-time favourite sitcom?
That's difficult. I would probably say the Larry Sanders Show, although Curb Your Enthusiasm is very close behind.
When did you last cry?
I cry quite a lot. I cry at movies all the time. but I also cry every time the bloody plane lands in Dublin. I‘m very sentimental, especially because I'd been away for eight or nine days and hadn’t seen the kids, and knew they were going to be there waiting for me, so a little tear formed in my eye. I Arda/ O'Han/on appears at Pavilion Theatre. Glasgow, Fri 74 Oct and Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Sun 76 Oct. Blessed starts on 8807, Fri 74 Oct. 9pm.
With news that a Danish company will soon offer British couples fertility treatment that’s forbidden in the UK (it’ll be anchored off the coast beyond our jurisdiction) here is The List’s guide to other things you can do in international waters.
Vlst the Freedom Shlp Coming soon to some international waters near you is entrepreneur Norman Nixon’s Freedom Ship (pictured) — a big. overweight barge which cruises around the world. hugging the shoreline. and completing one revolution every three years. If it goes ahead, plans for the moving city include 3000 commercial units. 2400 time-share units. 10.000 hotel units. a casino. a hOSpital, schools, parks and much more. Visit www.freedomship.com for more details. Behave like a pirate International waters or, as some peOpIe like to refer to them, ‘unprotected waters’. are among the few places on earth where you still find real pirates. Instances of pirate ambushes have been on a slight rise in the last five years. particularly in Asian waters. so once you've had everything taken away from you at gunpoint you may still be able to get a laugh out of putting a stuffed parrot on your shoulder.
Join Greenpeace The organisation has just launched a campaign against Estonian. Patagonian and Spanish fishing companies which are allowing their vessels to work in international waters (which have always been a no go area. according to various international water agreements).
Collect flags Unless you are a practising slave trader. in international waters you will only fall under flag state jurisdiction for your travelling crimes. It might be a good opportunity to build up your flag collection by asking the differing water authorities to spread some cotton.
Become a DJ The earliest industries to see the potential of working from international waters were the renegade radio stations of the 1960s like Radio Luxemburg. Although there are still a few of these left, they have been closing at an astonishing rate as technology and fashion overtakes them. The fortunes of Danish company Cryos‘ new offshore fertility scheme may put a bit of spunk in their boots. Or is that lead in their hull?