THE FATHER TED FIVE : 1. EUROVISION

So we have it, the greatest Father Ted episode ever.

It has everything that is the trademark of all Father Ted’s best moments : Ted’s competitive streak, Dougal being naive, Dougal being stupid, Popular Culture being parodied, Awkwardness, Jokes having the expected punchline, but not the expected victim.

We start off with Ted and Dougal bonding over their love of music. Dougal’s main passion is the Eurovision Song Contest, which plants the idea in Ted’s head that they should enter. The seed is sown when Ted learns of his arch rival Dick Byrne entering.

The best moment comes when Dougal and Ted are jamming, where Ted tells Dougal to stop being so serious. Fast forward a few hours, and a drunken Ted is furiously launching an X rated tirade at Dougal as they have what musicians call “Creative tensions”

After Dougal plays a part Eurovision song from his record collection (consisting of one record), he tells Ted of the tragic story of the band behind it, who all died in a plane crash alongside everyone at their record label, publishing company and all their families. Dougal, though having his suspicions that Ted is stealing the song, is duped into being reassured by Ted.

Ted then has a Eurovision dream, prompting another great moment, where you think you see the punchline, but get led astray, where Ted dreams an awful video and song, but wakes up thinking that all that needs to be done is to lose a Saxophone solo.

The night of the song selection arrives, and there is a great moment of awkward comedy where he speaks to the producer of the show, who refers to the presenter as “His partner”, and Ted mistaking comments that they are business partners, only to be told that hey are lovers. Ted doesn’t know how to react, providing some great awkward comedy.

As Ted and Dougal die on their arse, as they say, Dick and Cyril produce and epic Power Ballad, complete with smoke. Surprisingly, it’s the Craggy Island duo who win, prompting Dick Byrne to suggest that it was fixed, possibly because Ireland didn’t want the crippling hosting costs, causing some awkward dismissive laughter from the show’s Producer.

The show might have been over, but there was still time for one last joke in the end credits, as Ted and Dougal are backstage, sitting through what seems like a neverending succession of nil points. To add insult to injury, Jack deserts them to sip champagne with the victorious Belgian act.

Father Ted summed up there, even when he manages to achieve something, there always seems to be a crushing defeat just waiting to happen.

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THE FATHER TED FIVE : 2. CHRISTMAS

Technically, this shouldn’t count as it’s a feature length special, but, it’s my chart, and my rules.

An indication of how brilliant and well thought of this episode is, is the fact that this show is repeated every christmas. Like Morecambe and Wise on the BBC, people expect it to be repeated. It’s become a part of Christmas.

I’m certain that there are people, just like me, who look to see when it is on whenever they buy their Christmas edition of the Radio Times to see when it is on.

We begin, in a parallel TV universe, with guest appearances from Dervla Kirwan and Stephen Tompkinson, reprising their roles in Ballykissangel, as Ted replaces Father Peter in the parish, only for it to be revealed as a dream, as Dougal wakes him up to offer him a peanut.

Good ole Dougal, kind and sweet, but generally messing things up.

Dougal then has a fine moment when they put up the Christmas tree as he tells Ted that the lights are off, then on again, not realising they were flashing lights. He then tops it off by predicting that his advent calendar would contain an image of Ruud Gullit sitting on a shed.

Ted’s competitive streak comes out when he jealously speaks about other Priests amongst his peers, having more success than him.

The three Priests then go on a shopping trip, with Jack left behind by Dougal. Dougal then shows his kind hearted stupidity by dropping Jack in a creche, under the mistaken belief that it is a place for “People who don’t like shopping”

While shopping, they come into the main punchline of the first part of the show, where they get lost, and find themselves in a ladies underwear department.

While there, they bump into two other Priests, who are actually looking to buy stuff, but after Ted tells them they are lost, a story they tag along to, for fear of being rumbled.

They then find another four Priests. Fearing a national scandal, Ted takes control of the situation, becoming the leader of the group, as they try to escape.

A great comic moment comes up, as Ted has the idea of hijacking the PA system, to clear the shop so they can escape. Ted requests a dour voice suited to PA announcements, which he gets, before a Priest with a Shakespearean actor voice volunteers under the mistaken belief that Ted required a booming, rasping voice.

Eventually, they escape, but that isn’t the end of it, as Ted is awarded a Golden Cleric. However, this causes Ted to go on a downward spiral, and doubt his own Priest abilities.

Meanwhile, Ted encounters that awkward situation we’ve all been in, meeting someone who knows who he is, Father Todd Unctous, who makes himself more than welcome at the Parochial House.

Ted’s attempts to find out who this Priest is are thwarted by Todd’s inability to write due to a ruptured nerve, and not telling him who he is.

While Ted is accepting his award, Todd does what appears to be research on the geography of the house.

Meanwhile, all becomes clear, as Todd wants to steal Ted’s award, only being rumbled by accident as Dougal comes downstairs to watch a scary movie in the middle of the night, setting Ted up to catch him in the act of attempted theft.

Ted might have won the award, but it was Dougal who had the laughs with his one liners and stupidity. Merry Christmas.

THE FATHER TED FIVE : 3. THE CHINESE

Who knew that Mrs Doyle taking a few days off due to a sore back could lead to Ted tackling international relations?

With Mrs Doyle unavailable, Ted and Dougal start work on cleaning the Parochial House. Ted takes a stray lampshade and does a “Chinaman impression”

To Ted’s horror, he turns around to see three Chinese people staring through the window.

What I love most about this joke is the role reversal between Ted and Dougal, with Ted being and idiot, and Dougal being the knowledgable one, as Dougal knows who the people are, and that they come from the Chinatown district of Craggy Island, with Ted unaware that Craggy Island had a Chinatown.

Ted tries to get the Chinese community onside with a presentation on cultural diversity, pointing out that “there are many types of people in this world. People who are Chinese, and people who aren’t Chinese”, he accidentally includes a slide of a Maori person, before pointing out that there are no Maoris on Craggy Island, much to the disappointment of a lone Maori in the audience.

It wasn’t the presentation that won Ted Chinese friends, but the offer of free booze.

Some great one liners in this episode, as Ted suggests that Jack might be Agoraphobic, which Dougal disputes, stating that he doesn’t believe Jack would be afraid of a fight, thinking he meant Aggrophobic.

A parishioner reacts to the rumours of Ted’s alleged racist attitudes by stopping him in the street to congratulate him, on the mistaken belief that it was the Greeks that Ted was hating.

Ironically, it just shows how wrong, um, Chinese Whispers can be.

The final punchline sums up Ted’s rotten luck, as a priest with a vast collection of Nazi memorabilia dies, and donates them all to Ted, who brings his new Chinese friends back to the Parochial House having convinced them that he’s not racist only to see Nazi memorabilia waiting for them.

Poor Ted, all that good work undone.

THE FATHER TED FIVE : 4. FOOTBALL/KICKING BISHOP BRENNAN UP THE ARSE

4. FOOTBALL/KICKING BISHOP BRENNAN UP THE ARSE

We all know about Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse, but it’s easily forgotten that it was the second of a two part episode.

Ted’s competitive streal gets brought out by the annual Craggy Island v Rugged Island Over 75s Priests football match.

While Talking tactics, a little bit of Jack’s back story becomes known as Dougal asked Ted about Jack’s football career, to confirm that Jack had a trial for Liverpool, only for Ted to correct him, that Jack was actually on trial in Liverpool.

On the eve of the game, one of the Craggy Island players dies. A great example of the dark humour of the show, as death is just viewed as an occupational hazard for an over 75 footballer, like a hamstring strain is viewed for a Premier League player.

Suffering another blow, that Father Jack has overdosed on sleeping aids, Ted puts jack onto an electric wheelchair, and uses joke hands to hide the fact he’s controlling him.

The real stars of the football match are off the pitch, Dougal and Mr Doyle.

Mrs Doyle deosn’t really get football (in real life, Pauline McLynn supports Aston Vila) so Ted gives her a book about football to help her understand the game.

Later in the episode, Mrs Doyle can be seen leading terrace chants for Craggy Island and verbally abusing opposition players.

Dougal, wanting to be involved, gets given the job of “Corner flag looker afterer”

In a brilliant subplot, Dick Byrne asks Cyril to steal a corner flag as a souvenir. What follows, is comedy gold, as two idiots try to outsmart each other.

Ted’s team win the match, but to use a football phrase, Dick’s team get a last minute reprieve, as the referee (played by Jason Byrne) spots Ted’s cheating.

It’s a forfeit game, and Ted gets an extra special one “For being a bi cheating bastard” – He has to kick the much feared Bishop Brennan up the arse.

To use another football phrase, onto the second-half.

Ted isn’t initially concerned, after all, Bishop Brennena hates him and wouldn’t voluntarily Craggy Island, but he does, after a rogue tip-off from Dick Byrne that an likeness of Bishop Brennan appears on the skirting board of the Parochial House.

This episode has one of my favourite constructed jokes from the show.

Bishop Brennan is angry that his schedule has been changed to include a trip to Craggy Island as “I have to be in Rome for an audience with The Pope” to which Dougal replies “I love that show, did you see the one with Elton John?”

Brennan gives Dougal a deathly silence. You could have finished the joke there, and it would have been funny, but they managed to extract some more out of it, without killing it, as Dougal interprets Brennan’s silence due to him not being a fan of Elton John, before adding “Dame Edna, she was funny” under the mistaken belief that The Pope had a light entertainment show on ITV.

So Ted kicks Brennan, then denies it, prompting Brennan to believe he imagined it. Ted then revels in the glory and demands Dougal get a banner of it made outside the Parochial House.

Brennan confronts Ted about the kick, and Ted convinces him that he imagined it, except he got rumbled when Dougal erected the banner, as requested outside the Parochial House, leaving Ted to face Brennan’s wrath.

To use a football analogy, he clinched defeat from the jaws of victory. Superb.

THE FATHER TED FIVE : 5. SPEED 3

Today’s newspapers are full of The Pope’s resignation. On this day 15 years ago, attention was focused on another departing (fictional) Priest, but from this mortal coil, as Dermot Morgan, star of Father Ted, sadly died on February 28th 1998.

Instead of mourning, let’s celebrate the greatness of Father Ted by looking back at his five greatest moments in a five part series.

5. SPEED 3

This episode begins with a classic Ted joke, where you can see the punchline, but get sent in the wrong direction as to who the victim of the punchline is, as an angry Ted storms in, covered in sick, angry at Dougal for playing with excitable babies.

Just when you think that the Babies have been sick all over Ted, it turns out that it was the childlike Dougal who was the one who had puked all over Ted.

The star of this episode is Pat Mustard, a sex crazed Milkman who Ted takes an instant dislike to. Having noticed an unusual amount of hairy babies (a great example of the surreal humour used in the show), Ted suspects that Pat Mustard has been fathering illegitimate children.

One of the great aspects of the show was Ted’s competitive streak, usually brought out by Dick Byrne, a rival priest on a nearby island, with a parallel set-up (old drunk priest, young idiot priest, middle aged priest)

Ted and Dougal go out to gain evidence on Mustard’s extra curricular activities, which they do, resulting in Mustard getting sacked.

Funny so far, but just wait for the, quite literally, explosive punchline.

With no Milkman to serve the island, the childlike Dougal volunteers himself for the role, with the head of distribution happy to accommodate this due to Dougal being “A man of God”, which he needs to have explained to him.

The best bit about it was Ted’s send-off to Dougal, like a proud parent sending a child to school.

Dougal running a milkfloat ended up having hilarious consequences, but it wasn’t Dougal’s fault. It would have been too easy for it to be his fault.

Dougal became the victim of a revenge attack, with a bomb on the milkfloat activated when he goes above 4mph, to go off when he drops below 4mph, a parody of the 90s film series Speed, which had two films in the 90s (The episode was a joke that this would be the 3rd Speed movie)

What comes is a perfect example of Father Ted’s humour – slapstick, surreal, and never afraid to make fun of popular culture. Ted enlists the help of two other Priests, one of whom wants to use the situation to say Mass.

The answer, literally, hits Ted, as Jack hits Ted with a brick, which inspires Ted to put the brick on the accelerator, to allow Dougal to escape.

Pat Mustard may have been the star, but Dougal has the last word. On his milkround, a woman turned up at the door naked in anticipation of Pat Mustard, only to see Dougal.

Later on, Dougal screams out “Ted!! Those women were in the nip”

Slow, Naive, and Endeeringly funny. Dougal Maguire summed in in a sentence.