For 25 episodes over the course of three seasons, Irish actor Dermot Morgan brought audience big-time giggles as the title character of “Father Ted.” As brief as the series was, it remains a favourite amongst Britcom appreciators.
Twenty years ago yesterday (February 28), marked the 20th anniversary of Morgan’s death. Interestingly, he passed away the day after he completed filming the final episode of “Father Ted.”
To salute his father’s life, Don Morgan penned a column for the Irish Times. In it, he touched on Dermot’s early years, as well as his acting chops and cultural impact.
“His legacy permeates the airwaves, even today…He may not have invented satire, but he did the State some service,” wrote Don. “I hope that in time he will be remembered for his contribution to the development of Irish comedy, now a multimillion-euro industry, as well as for ‘Father Ted.’ Because, after him, no one was safe and a less deferential country is an emotionally healthier one. I wonder in hindsight, though, how many politicians attended his funeral just to be sure the coast was clear. One wrote a note saying we are all still aware of his loss. It wasn’t platitudinous.”
He continued: “And then there’s his voyage to Craggy Island. ‘Father Ted’ is as much a product of [writers] Sam Beckett as of Galton and Simpson. It makes him one of the immortals… a view I’m sure Frank Kelly (also of ‘Father Ted’), who expired uncannily on the same date, February 28 , might share.”
As you could imagine, Don still feels his father’s presence in the world and can’t help but continue to miss him.
“He hangs in the soundscape of our satire and our visual landscape, by dint of his unforgettable look and an iconic, quotable TV show,” concluded Don. “Back home he’s still as much part of Dublin as the smell off the Liffey when the tide is out. I have come to realize that I know him and don’t. Each time he reappears he manifests himself in ways I didn’t expect. Each time he is so refreshed I can smell the newspapers and the aftershave. For a moment I can forget that he’s gone.”
“Father Ted” can be seen Wednesdays at 8pm ET/5pm PT, through May 30.