On the last weekend in February each year a curious bunch of people gather on a small island to celebrate a TV show. They dress in character costumes (no, it’s not Star Trek), quote lines to each other (not Monty Python, either) and re-enact key scenes from the programme (Seinfeld? Uh-uh).
For those of you who’ve grown up in Ireland and the UK, all I have to say is that the curious bunch of people will say the word “Feck!” a lot. I mean, all the time. There will also be numerous lighthearted references to “Arse!” And the island will be thronged with “Girls!”
Oh, and almost everyone will be dressed as Catholic priests.
I’m speaking of course about the much-loved sitcom Father Ted. Fans of the show will flock to Craggy Island (actually Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands off the coast of Co Galway) and celebrate all things Ted as part of Tedfest.
To help get things under way I thought I’d show the brilliant front cover of #2 of Neon film magazine. It’s a hilarious blending of TV and film, with two of the main characters, Fr Ted and Fr Dougal, dressed up in Star Wars gear. It’s a photo taken from an alternate universe where the two priests really exist and are off to a Star Wars convention. In keeping with Neon’s unconventional take on things, they put two TV characters on the front cover to celebrate 24 pages of all things Star Wars.
Inside the magazine there is an interview with Fathers Ted and Dougal about George Lucas’s epic space opera. I presume the interview was scripted by Graham Linehan, who was a regular contributor to the magazine. Just in case you missed it back in February 1997, here it is. Tis mad stuff altogether:
Fr Ted: I’m a huge fan of the film. not one moment goes by in the day with i’m not thinking about han Solo, Chewbacca, the woman and the other man and the ma with the beard. interested story, actually, but Father Jack seems to be able to understand bothe the squeaky robot and Chewbacca. Every time Chewbacca says something, Father Jack laughs and shakes his head in admiration. I think we’re losing a lot of the humour in translation. It’s a very, very good film. I can’t understand why they didn’t make any sequels. I first say it at an afternoon screening in Wexford and there were loads of children shouting and tjumping all over the place and generally having a bit of a laugh. But even though you couldn’t make out any of the dialogue, the story was so powerful that you could still follow it. You knew instinctively that everyone on the Battlestar Galactica were the good guys and everyone else wasn’t.
Fr Dougal: When did I first see Star Wars? What? I don’t understand the question. What are… With the big dogs? And the robots? That thing? That was a film? Ah, thank God. Oh, brilliant! It’s just so realistic. You just think – this is all mad stuff, it couldn’t really happen, and yet there it is, actually happening, before your eyes. Sometimes I think it’s a lot more believable than the religious thing (Ted: I’m going to have to stop you there, Dougal…) Life on other planets? Well, the latest evidence from Mars suggests that there is definitely life on other planets besides Earth (Ted: No it doesn’t…) so I suppose, why not? But would they all have their own God? Or would he be the same fella? Best not to think about it too much. You could go a bit mad.