Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Father Ted co-creator reveals inspiration for Dougal

Father Ted co-creator Graham Linehan has revealed how the iconic Father Dougal was inspired by two of the most stupid characters on television.

The writer said the simple-minded priest was a cross between wide-eyed bartender Woody from 'Cheers' and the hilariously dim roadsweeper Trigger, from 'Only Fools and Horses'.

In Channel 4's documentary 'Unintelligent Design', Mr Linehan and his co-writer Arthur Mathews unveil the eclectic cast of characters from popular culture that gave rise to the main stars of 'Father Ted'.

The violence in the character of Father Jack was based on a very "violent Christian Brother-type priest", while his drinking was a reflection on the Irish alcohol-loving stereotype.

"One of the cliches about Ireland is that a lot of people are drinkers and this fellow drinks everything. . . Baileys, toilet cleaner, everything," said Mr Linehan.

But he said a highly decorated US soldier, Admiral James Stockdale, who ran alongside Ross Perot in the 1992 American presidential campaign, was the unlikely muse for Fr Jack's startling Tourettes-style personality.

"He had a hearing aid and he was just really odd. We just loved the idea of a character who kept barking out things at various different times."

He said the much loved Dougal was born out of some of the most gormless characters on the small screen.

He said: "We loved characters that were so stupid that they seem to have different rules.

"Dougal is probably a mixture of Woody's wide-eyed quality and Trigger's complete stupidity.

"Trigger, Coach (also from 'Cheers') and Woody were all our favourites and that's what we were going for with Dougal.

The documentary is being screened on Channel 4 as part of a celebration of its greatest comedy sitcom on the 15th anniversary of the much loved series.

It is followed by the public's all-time favourite episode of 'Father Ted' and a documentary where the writers go back to the set of Craggy Island with most of the cast.

Mr Mathews said Fr Ted Crilly was influenced by the string of cheery priests who used to visit his house during his childhood.

"It's that type of cheery, having-a-laugh type of thing, not being a Holy Joe although being very respectful of religion but having a light-hearted aspect as well."

'Unintelligent Design' will be shown tomorrow on Channel 4 at 9.05pm.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Nightlife Galleries


Latest Entertainment News

Latest Music News

Latest Film & TV News

Latest Eating Out News


Your Horoscopes by Russell Grant


It feels like friends are few and far between. If you're not getting the help you need, ask why. It may be because you have been so preoccupied with work. Skipping special occasions and failing to return phone calls causes resentment. You have to be more engaged to sustain loving bonds. Call someone you've missed. It may take a few tries, but it's worth the effort. Be forthright about why you have been out of touch. Communication is the cornerstone of every healthy relationship.More