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Father Ted to return as musical, co-creator says

Cult comedy Father Ted is set to return as a musical, its co-creator has confirmed.

Graham Linehan said the show, called Pope Ted: The Father Ted Musical, was almost written.

Fellow writer Arthur Matthews and the Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon, who wrote the show’s theme tune and original music, are involved in the project.

Linehan said it would be “the real final episode of Father Ted”.

He told the BBC: “It’s like putting on an old pair of slippers.”

The sitcom ran for three series between 1995-98 on Channel 4, chronicling the escapades of Irish parish priest Father Ted Crilly.

The musical will see Ted move from the fictional Craggy Island to his new role as Pope in the Vatican.

Linehan, who also created Channel 4 sitcom the IT Crowd and co-created sitcom Black Books, said the musical was about “the least qualified man in the world becoming Pope”.

He said: “I didn’t want to do anything like this until the right idea came along, and when Trump won and Corbyn won [the Labour leadership] I kind of thought, ‘Maybe Ted has a chance’.

“I thought it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Obviously we’re pulling some shenanigans to get him into that position but I think the shenanigans are entertaining enough that people won’t mind.”

Image caption Dermot Morgan played Father Ted in the Channel 4 comedy series

‘Down with this sort of thing’: The history of Father Ted

Father Ted became a hit in the 1990s, chronicling the life of the eponymous character, the gormless but loveable Father Dougal McGuire, foul-mouthed drunk Father Jack Hackett and tea-obsessed Mrs Doyle.

  • Stars Ardal O’Hanlon and Pauline McLynn went on to enjoy mainstream success. But Dermot Morgan, who played Father Ted, died from a heart attack the day after filming the final episode
  • Actors, artists and TV personalities who appeared in the show included One Foot In The Grave Star Richard Wilson, presenter Graham Norton, Dervla Kirwan from BBC TV series Ballykissangel and Altered Images lead singer Clare Grogan
  • Storylines included Ted kicking Bishop Brennan in the backside, a group of priests getting lost in “Ireland’s biggest lingerie section”, and Ted trying to become Ireland’s Eurovision nomination with the song, My Lovely Horse

The Father Ted theme tune is taken from the Divine Comedy song, Songs of Love.

Hannon, the band’s lead singer – who is writing the music for the musical – collaborated with Linehan and Matthews on songs for the original sitcom, the most famous being My Lovely Horse – which he also sang in the episode.

He also wrote the theme music for the IT Crowd.

Lineham said the team did not know where the musical would debut but said he hoped it would be on stage next year.

It is the first time in 20 years that he and Matthews have returned to the characters from Father Ted.

Linehan said: “You can pull the most ridiculous stunts to get around a plot problem… and it’s lovely to be working with Arthur again.”

From small screen to the West End: TV shows that are turned into musicals

  • Jerry Springer The Opera: The satirical musical, based on the American TV show, was written by Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas. A broadcast of the show on BBC Two elicited 55,000 complaints and protests by Christian groups outside BBC offices
  • I Can’t Sing: A musical inspired by the X Factor was written by Harry Hill and debuted on the West End in 2014, but ended its run after six weeks
  • Only Fools And Horses: The Daily Mail has reported comedian Paul Whitehouse and Jim Sullivan (the son of show creator John) have written the “lovely jubbly” musical, and could reach the stage in February 2019
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