The Passion of Saint Tibulus
|"The Passion of Saint Tibulus"|
|Father Ted episode|
|Episode no.||Series 1
|Directed by||Declan Lowney|
|Featured music||The Divine Comedy|
|Original air date||5 May 1995|
|List of Father Ted episodes|
Father Hernandez, from Cuba, is staying on Craggy Island. During a game of Cluedo (which has lasted for hours because the priests have forgotten to put any cards in the "Murder Envelope", meaning there is no solution), Father Hernandez, seeing Mrs Doyle, confesses he sometimes finds the life of celibacy difficult, at which point Ted mentions Bishop Brennan, who is rumoured to have a son who lives in America.
The next day, Brennan himself arrives unexpectedly at the parochial house. Ted hopes that it's because they're being sent back to their original parishes, but Brennan swiftly dashes this hope: they're not going anywhere after the incidents that put them there in the first place (Ted stole money that was supposed to send a child to 'Lourdes' and lost it all on a gambling spree in Las Vegas, a disastrous wedding in Athlone for Jack and the "Blackrock incident" for Dougal that "irreparably damaged" the lives of several nuns). Instead, Len has another reason for visiting: The Passion of Saint Tibulus, a film condemned by the Pope as "blasphemous" and banned everywhere else, is being shown on Craggy Island because of an unknown loophole. He declares the Catholic Church must be seen to make a stand on this matter, and orders Ted and the others to sort things out as quickly as possible, especially given that he has been recalled from his holiday in California to deal with it.
Ted and Dougal go to the local cinema and find only two other people watching the film, one of whom leaves because the film is in French, subtitled and not dubbed. Originally, they plan to protest before the film begins, but after a polite request from Michael the cinema manager, they agree to watch it peacefully and be thrown out afterwards (to be seen "making a fuss").
That night, Ted and Dougal discuss the film, and rather than debate its ethical or theological aspects, simply agree the film was difficult to understand and inaccurate, as well as sexually explicit. The next morning, the pair decide they'll take their time going down to the cinema and protesting: however, Bishop Brennan returns and orders them to start protesting immediately. Bemoaning the fact that there are still seven hours before the cinema even opens, Ted and Dougal stand outside with placards reading "Down with this sort of thing" and "Careful now". Dougal then goes to the O'Learys' shop to buy a pair of handcuffs, so they can fasten themselves to the railing to gain more attention.
Meanwhile, back at the parochial house, Bishop Brennan is looking for his travelling bag, which contains his passport "and everything". Father Jack, sitting in his chair as always, plays dumb when questioned. However, once the Bishop leaves, he produces the bag and examines it. Inside, he finds Brennan's passport, a VHS camcorder containing a video cassette labelled "Holiday '95 California" and- to his delight -a bottle of Jack Daniel's. Ted and Dougal continue protesting earnestly, but their actions have the opposite effect - people now want to see the film, attracted mainly by their protest. As islanders wander in (including Jack), Michael happily declares The Passion of Saint Tibulus is already the cinema's most successful film since Jurassic Park. Ted angrily realizes that no one cares what the Church says about the film, and decides to leave. Unfortunately, Dougal doesn't have the keys for the handcuffs.
Back home - with the pair of them still handcuffed to the railing - they are scolded by Bishop Brennan for making The Passion of Saint Tibulus the most successful film in the island's history. People have been arriving from all over Ireland and Europe to watch it ("They're even coming from Gdańsk to see the film!"). As punishment, the three will be relocated to locations even worse than Craggy Island: Ted is being sent to an island off Suriname where two tribes have been "knocking the shit out each other" since 1907 and is supposed to unite them "in the spirit of Christian harmony" (and make arrows), Dougal is off to an area of the Philippines (which he can't spell, but he "know[s] it starts with an 'f'") bereft of sewerage systems and Jack, to somewhere Bishop Brennan swears is much worse, although Jack punches him in the face before he can reveal exactly where. On that note, Bishop Brennan leaves; Ted and Dougal are devastated, until Jack plays the Bishop's holiday video. It shows the Bishop with a woman and a young boy on a beach - his secret mistress and his son. Ted realises they can use this to blackmail the Bishop into changing his mind, and they revel in their good fortune by watching the video a few more times. This alludes to the 1990s Irish scandal involving Eamon Casey.
The episode's central theme is ineffectual protest. The plot of the Church's opposition to a blasphemous film was inspired by the reaction to several real-world films, including Sebastiane, Hail Mary and Monty Python's Life of Brian; the latter was banned in Ireland upon its release, so Linehan joined a film club specifically to get a chance to watch it.
This episode was the second to be recorded, and the writers originally planned to air it first; they later moved it to second, feeling that "Good Luck, Father Ted" would make a better introduction, and finally moved it to third because of Mathews's particular love for "Entertaining Father Stone". The cinema used was the Cinema by the Sea in Greystones, Co.Wicklow. It continued to operate until July 2007, when it closed due to commercial difficulties.
One of the writers' early ideas for the series was that every priest in the world knows every other personally; this idea is introduced in the opening scene with the Cuban priest Father Hernandez. When Hernandez speaks in Spanish, he is clumsily dubbed over by an English translator, which the Craggy Islanders can inexplicably hear and understand – an idea Linehan considered "just this side of being too mad to do". The translator's voice is provided by producer Geoffrey Perkins.
This episode introduced the recurring character of Bishop Brennan, who was initially based on Eamon Casey, and later on Michael Cleary. The writers cast Jim Norton after seeing him as Wentworth in the 1995 Frasier episode "The Club"; Mathews has also heard his reading of James Joyce's Ulysses. The writers always felt that Bishop Brennan was Father Jack's nemesis, as Jack himself had the potential to become a bishop, but never did because we was not a career priest.
The scenes with Ted and Dougal sharing a bedroom were inspired by similar scenes in the Morecambe and Wise shows. The writes used these scenes for end-of-the-day conversations to wrap up the story, and to provide a sort of "safe zone" for Ted and Dougal to discuss the plot. Linehan and Mathews had to cut laughs in some scenes because the studio audience incorrectly thought they were making sex jokes.
"Down with this sort of thing"
The vague protest signs carried by Ted and Dougal have long outlived the original series.
The signs were referred to by Green Party leader John Gormley - on 28 June 2010 - to describe his view that The Labour Party have little or no polices. He accused the Labour Party of saying "Down with this sort of thing" without providing their alternative.
During a number of high profile UK protests including the Pope's state visit to the September 2010 and Student protests against tuition fee rises in November 2010, as well as protests against the Irish EU bailout and austerity measures in November 2010 several protesters displayed banners saying "Down with this sort of thing" and "Careful now".