Father Ted (1995-1998)

My Favourite TV Show

Yes, Father Ted is my favourite TV show of all time. In the UK and Ireland we quote this show as much as the rest of the world quotes The Simpsons, with so many lines and terms from the show becoming implanted into our psyche. I’ve been watching Father Ted since I was kid and even though I didn’t get of any of the adult jokes back then, the wacky and surreal humour always had me in fits of laughter. I don’t think there’s been a month in the last 17 years that I haven’t watched one of its 25 episodes, yet I still can’t pick a favourite!

Every joke in Father Ted works on so many levels. The setting of the fictional Craggy Island is surely the most backward ended place on Earth but this is all brilliantly downplayed. Whenever anything absurd happens, the characters react in an unsurprised or not surprised enough manner. For example, when Ted discovers Craggy Island has its own Chinatown. Just how does an island off the coast of Ireland have a significant Chinese population and how does a person living there not even know about it?! I could take any joke from this show and list on multiple levels as to why it’s so absurd and surreal. The inconsistencies and even the odd plot hole just makes everything funnier.

I suspect one of the reasons Father Ted became so successful is that it dispelled the notion that the Irish are completely oblivious to the outside world in the sense that the characters talk about popular culture just like people in any other civilized county would. Granted the characters in every other sense don’t act like people in the real world but I believe this one aspect made the show more relatable to a wider audience, from references to bands such as Oasis and Radiohead to various film references (Dougal, we are not watching Aliens!). I’m from Ireland and even to this day I hear stories from Irish people who have gone abroad and meet people who think Ireland is technologically un-advanced country and that we all live in cottages. One story I always remember was an Irish guy telling me of how he told an American he owned an Xbox 360 and the American couldn’t believe it.

Allow me to hold up my cup of tea to Father Ted. May I continue to watch it for years, with Dougal and Mrs Doyle and Father Jack forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever…

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