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Brendan Grace on Father Ted and THOSE James Reilly comparisons

Brendan Grace tells us about the dark inspiration behind Fr Fintan Stack – and what he talked about with the Fine Gael minister.

“THEY SAID THEY wanted an obnoxious type of a priest,

And there were some very well known actors who were in the day I was in, some very well known actors in reading for the part.

Brendan Grace called TheJournal.ie from a (very) crackly phone line this morning as he made his way to the airport.

We had been hoping to talk to him last week for this article about the ex-priests of Father Ted - but we’d been playing email-tag for days. The veteran comedian’s been in Enniskillen on a shoot (long days by the sounds of it) – so we were happy to ‘talk Ted’ to just the man himself for a while, as part of our ’20 years of Ted’ coverage.

Anyway – as you’ll recall, Grace played one of the most quoted characters in the show: the obnoxious, jungle music-loving Fr Fintan Stack (“I got the keys to your car and drove it into a big wall- and if you don’t like it, tough”).

Source: MrHick726/YouTube

That episode, ‘New Jack City’ was voted the best Ted episode of the entire three series run at the inaugural Ted Fest back in 2007.

19 years after the series 2 episode was filmed, people are still asking Grace to leave phone messages in the guise of Father Stack.

It’s mostly 15 to 20 year old boys, for some reason – fellas who are really taken in by Fr Stack. They ask me to leave messages calling their ma or da a ‘dirty fecker’ – that kind of thing.

Anyway, Grace had been talking us through the ‘Ted’ casting process: how he came to land the role of – as he describes it – “the only priest to scare the shit out of Father Jack”.

The famous actors who were reading for the role, he says, were all “shouting and roaring” as they auditioned for the part of this obnoxious priest.

“I just recalled a teacher I had in the Christian Brothers in James’s Street, 50 years ago, and I put his voice on.

He was a sly, slithery… He was the kind of brother who would tell you before he hit you that he was going to hit you.

Grace says that – if Dermot Morgan hadn’t tragically died – he was told a mooted fourth series could have featured more appearances by Father Stack “simply because he out-obnoxified Father Jack”. 

Like the other guest actors in the show who spoke to us in recent days – Grace speaks warmly of his time on ‘Ted’ .

My feeling on it is that it was a tremendous experience. It took a week in London to do it – but it’s ageless, Father Ted. It’s so bizarre that it will last for a long time.

Parting shot

Before we let him go – there’s just time for a quick question about politics.

Why?

Well, one politician to be exact… Around Leinster House, Children’s Minister James Reilly is often referred to as ‘Bottler’ – for his resemblance to the Liberties-born comedian (not to his face, mind).

There are even Youtube parodies – featuring Father Stack answering questions in the Dáil.

Plain pack cigarettes Minister for Children James Reilly Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

“I don’t mind it a bit,” says Grace.

He jokes, “But my wife certainly doesn’t take it as a compliment”.

The two men even talked about it, when they met briefly, Grace says.

He seems to be a nice guy.

Read: Father Ted’s Speed 3 Episode: An Oral History 

Read: ‘I worked with Father Ted – and look what happened to me’

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