Competition Time

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"Competition Time"
Father Ted episode
Episode no. Series 1
Episode 4
Directed by Declan Lowney
Written by
Featured music The Divine Comedy
Original air date 12 May 1995 (1995-05-12)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of Father Ted episodes

"Competition Time" is the fourth episode of the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted.

Synopsis[edit]

The episode begins when, with the annual "All Priests Stars in Their Eyes Lookalike Competition" nearing, Ted shows everyone his Elvis costume, only to find Dougal and Jack wearing exactly the same outfit as him. Ted had been talking about dressing as Elvis for weeks, and Dougal concedes that's "probably" where he got the idea; since reasoning with him is nigh on impossible, Ted accepts he will have to go as Mother Teresa again. Father Dick Byrne (from Rugged Island parochial house) calls Ted and says he has no chance of winning. But, since the judge of the competition, TV presenter Henry Sellers, is staying on Craggy Island, Ted believes that their chances of winning will improve if they are nice to him.

When Henry Sellers arrives, Ted greets him warmly but Dougal is unable to think of anything to say. At Ted's prompting, he asks him his age, which is apparently 37. Before Mr. Sellers' arrival, Jack had drunk a bottle of Toilet Duck, causing hallucinations, and he runs away in fear when Mr. Sellers speaks to him. Mr. Sellers is accompanied there by Father Barty Dunne, a priest who laughs at the slightest of things (e.g. Jack losing his slippers), and can't maintain a proper conversation. Mr. Sellers remarks angrily that the car journey was four hours long.

Ted offers to get Henry anything he wants, and says he means anything, but is unable to fulfill any of his requests like getting him an English newspaper and lies about the nature of Rugged Island to keep Henry in the parochial house. Ted and Mrs Doyle then cajole Henry into taking a drink of sherry before bed. After one drink, he drinks heavily and becomes angry at everyone, and destroys the living room. Father Dunne discloses that Henry is a raging alcoholic, who had been "on the wagon" for a year, and that his drinking was the reason the BBC sacked him. Henry then jumps out of the window and runs off into the wilderness.

The next day, Ted, Dougal and the island's policeman attempt to track Henry down. He is still in an alcoholic state in the woods, but now with fewer clothes. Ted makes a noise with some pans to drive Henry out into the open, allowing him to be shot with a tranquilizer dart. After Henry has sobered up at the parochial house, Ted assures him that nothing untoward happened (Henry blacked out and forgot the night's events). Dick Byrne calls Ted again, and suggests a bet of, at first £1, then £2, and finally £5, on the outcome of that night's competition. Father Jack then returns, very drunk; Dougal suggests sobering him up, but Ted says that he has an idea.

That night at the competition, Dick Byrne and his fellow priests (who performed as Diana Ross and two of the Supremes) are in the lead with nine out of ten. Then the Craggy Island priests' entry, narrated by Ted, begins. Dougal represents the young Elvis, who "one day in the 1950s created rock and roll". Ted then appears as Elvis on his 1968 comeback special, with Jack representing the later part of his life by sitting, wearing garish clothes and confusedly holding a hamburger. This effort receives full marks from Henry, and they win the competition. Back at the parochial house Dick pays up, and then heads off back to Rugged Island. Mrs. Doyle then brings in a bottle of Champagne with four glasses. Henry takes a sip (believing it won't do any harm) and once again jumps out of the window in a drunken rage. Ted exasperatedly says they'll start looking for Henry in the morning, and he and Dougal celebrate their victory.

Production[edit]

The character of Henry Sellers was based on a well-known English TV personality who enjoyed drink; the writers heard from a friend in Hat Trick Productions that they had seen the presenter come home drunk one day and fall into a bush. This gave them the idea of a presenter character who is powerfully affected by alcohol. Jean Ainslie, who plays a woman on Sellers's game show, was cast based on her performance in The Day Today.[1]

Linehan regrets the storyline involving multiple characters dressing as Elvis Presley, and considers it a typical sign of running out of ideas, and a particularly bad one in a programme's first series. One influence was Stars in Their Eyes, which was popular at the time of writing.[1]

This episode introduces Father Dick Byrne, Father Cyril McDuff, Father Jim Johnson and their housekeeper, inhabitants of the nearby Rugged Island Parochial House, who bear a close resemblance to Ted, Dougal, Jack and Mrs Doyle. Maurice O'Donoghue, who plays Father Dick, was the writers' second choice for the role of Ted, being the right age and having a similar look and lightness. Mathews always preferred Dermot Morgan; Linehan was initially reluctant, fearing he would play Ted the same as his previous character "Father Trendy", but Morgan lobbied hard for the role. Linehan stated that they would have named the character differently if the possible sexual connotations of "Dick Byrne" had occurred to them.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Linehan, Graham; Mathews, Arthur. Father Ted DVD Commentaries (Podcast). United Kingdom: Channel 4. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 

External links[edit]