The Radio Times poll to choose the Best British Comedy of all time should boost Irish morale to no end with it's nomination of Father Ted making an overwhelming splash, but simultaenously it has also given lease to a bundle of unanswered-and even questionably unanswerable- questions. For one, can you really call Father Ted British to the extent it represents the best of British TV when it has a nearly wholly Irish cast and writers and is fundamentally Irish in its perspective- both plot and tone. It is in other words, so comprehensively Irish is it taking liberties to call it British just becuase of its financial backing and network?
The BBC, recognised by a majority as the leading force of British TV, may as well have named Father Ted as its top choice when its Head of Comedy Shane Allen chose it in the Radio Times poll, stating' In terms of a desert island comedy favourite I’d actually go for Father Ted. I can watch that over and over because it’s so brilliantly daft. Imagine the concept as a pitch on a page, it sounds quite rarefied and niche but shows you can do a comedy about anything if you get the right character ingredients.' Rarified and niche it is, yet paradoxically accessible, and in this sense Shane Allen is totally right. Yet the question of whether you can fairly call in British is still overlooked. Maybe it's petty to engage in the question entirely, comedy is comedy after all and who cares who owns? Can anyone own it? If it weren't for the aid of British station Channel 4, it may have been resting off air longer than that money was resting in Ted's account, given the fact Irish boradcasters turned it down numerously. Even still, it would be nice to see a national celebration of Father Ted as our favourite comedy, just as the top national comedy broadcaster in Britain has done.
Here is a short lists of reasons why Father Ted deserves not only to be the British favourite, but the Irish and everyone else on the planet.
1. Down With that sort of thing.
There may be no definitive evidence to back it up but there's a fair chance every public protest in Ireland since the airing of this episode had at least one 'down with this sort of thing' placard.
2. My Lovely Horse.
Countless cigarettes and some strenuous thought about musical composition went into Ted and Dougal's beautiful Eurovision rip-off song. It eloquently articulates the friendship between men and horse in l yrics such as 'My lovely horse, running through the field/ Where are you going, with your fetlocks blowing in the wind? / I want to shower you with sugar lumps, and ride you over fences
Polish your hooves every single day, and bring you to the horse dentist'. Poetry, that.
3. The Great Escape...from the lingerie department.
Sums up just how awfully cheeky the show was, and why we love it so. Parodies don't get better than ones with lingerie-laden Irish priests whose taskforce operative is to make it out of the department store, or at least the knicker aisle.Their bra-related injuries also gives new meaning to the term 'boobytrapped'.
4. That would be an ecumenical matter.
Again, since you first saw this episode, how many times have you used the phrase to get you out of an awkward situation? It's also a great reminder of just how groundbreaknig the show was...a priest who can only utter the words 'drink', 'feck' and 'girls'?
5. Dancing in caravans.
Graham Norton doesn't get enough credit for his role on the show. Father Noel Furlong is the quintessential chatty-man priest with too much enthusiasm for everything, hence Irish dancing in a caravan.
6. The invention of feck, paired with Mrs Doyle.
This word is in the dictionary right? Every character is a phenomenon in themselves, and thanks to Father Ted tea will always be inextricably bound to little aul ladies who stand in the sitting room with the lighths off, holding a tray of tea just incase somebody comes down in the middle of the night, feeling a little bit quenched.
7. Dougal in his teenage mood.
Oasis or Blur? One minute Dougal is a man with the spirit of a six year old looking for jam before dinner with Eoin McLove, the next he is a budding teen too cool for school, out rollerblading and playing playstation with his mates. They grow up so fast.
8. The Lovely Girls competition.
There's a reason one of these is held annually in tribute to the show; because Irish women really are 'lovely girls'. Oppressive catholic guilt and a tinge of pale girl syndrome (no bare legs, they've never seen the sun) equals lovely girls.
9. Speedy milk man Dougal.
Those women were in the nip! Just more proof Dougal's obliviousness to the world around him never gets old.
10. Go on, go on, go on.
Before there was Father Ted how the hell did an Irish person explain their mothers to foreigners? Nowadays, it only takes these two words repeated three times.It's practically the ingredients of an Irish mother- take three 'go ons'.
And finally, an extra clip of the makers discussing the BEST comedy that is Father Ted...