This weekend was blemished by the sad news that Irish actor Frank Kelly had died, aged 77. Kelly, who had roles in Emmerdale, Rat and an uncredited part in the original The Italian Job film, was best known for playing the unruly Father Jack on Father Ted, the iconic sitcom that followed the misadventures of a trio of priests on a remote Irish island.
Although appearing on the show in a supporting role, Kelly consistently brought Jack to the front and centre of the viewer’s attention whenever he was on screen. The DRINK-loving, magic road-riding, foul-mouthed inebriate stole many a scene across Father Ted‘s criminally-short 25-episode run, with his array of grouchy, monosyllabic catchphrases continuing to live on in popular culture.
In tribute to Kelly’s timeless comic creation, here are some of Father Jack’s most memorable moments – quite the legacy.
That would be an ecumenical matter
Jack’s aforementioned catchphrases rarely had him saying anything other than the likes of “drink”, “feck” or “arse”, but, to implement damage limitation prior to the arrival of three important bishops, Ted attempted to teach Jack some new theological phrases. As you can probably imagine, it doesn’t go well.
This scene also went some way to introducing the word “ecumenical” into popular vocabulary, so that’s extra reason to re-watch and laugh at this unforgettable exchange.
Jack’s advent guess
Arguably Father Ted‘s greatest episode was its hour-long 1996 Christmas Special, ‘A Christmassy Ted’. Ted’s creators Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews later admitted that the special came from stitching together two episodes with a seasonal theme, but it proved an inspired move: there’s the Golden Cleric speech, Father Todd Unctious and, of course, the infamous lingerie scene (“it’s Ireland’s largest lingerie section, I understand”).
One of Jack’s finest quotes occurred in this episode during an exchange with the eponymous priest about the parochial house’s advent calendar. “What would you say is behind tomorrow’s window, Father Jack?” Ted naively asks. “A PAIR OF FECKIN’ WOMEN’S KNICKERS!” comes the reply, much to the Ted’ humiliation. “Well, who knows?” Ted reasons, but Jack is adamant. “KNICKERS!”
Jack takes an eye test
Although this scene doesn’t see Jack speaking much, it’s the visual gags that hit hardest – the episode ‘The Mainland’ saw the Father Ted quartet venture outside of Craggy Island, with Jack being treated to an oddly-appropriate eye test. The reason behind the priest’s tendency to lose his glasses is also revealed.
Judging a wet t-shirt contest
Jack’s love of “GIRLS” comes to the fore in this clip as the viewer is granted an entrance into his dream about what Ted mistakenly believes is about his “old sporting days.” The reality isn’t particularly sporty: “More water”.
He loves his brick
“Father Hackett’s got very fond of that brick,” Mrs Doyle tells Ted, having fallen over Jack’s new toy. “It’s a great old pet for him: he doesn’t have to feed it, or clean it, or take it to the vet.”
In a bet with Ted’s nemesis Father Dick Byrne, the three priests give up their favourite vices for Lent: cigarettes (Ted), alcohol (guess who) and rollerblading (Dougal). Jack’s long-lost sobriety slowly returns to him after Ted confiscates his DRINK, and as such is able to remember the names of everyday objects – including his not-so-affectionate nickname for Ted.
And, just in case that isn’t enough Father Jack for you, here’s a supercut of his finest utterances – RIP, Frank Kelly.