Ardal O'Hanlon

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Ardal O'Hanlon
Born (1965-10-08) 8 October 1965 (age 55)
OccupationActor, comedian
Years active1991–present
Spouse(s)Melanie O'Hanlon
RelativesRory O'Hanlon (father)

Ardal O'Hanlon (/ˈhænlən/; born 8 October 1965) is an Irish comedian and actor. He played Father Dougal McGuire in Father Ted (1995–1998), George Sunday/Thermoman in My Hero (2000–2006), and DI Jack Mooney in Death in Paradise (2017–2020).

Early life[edit]

O'Hanlon was born on 8 October 1965 in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, the son of Fianna Fáil TD and physician Rory O'Hanlon and Teresa (née Ward).[citation needed] He is the third of six children, and has three brothers and two sisters.[citation needed] The episode of Who Do You Think You Are? which aired on 6 October 2008 revealed that O'Hanlon's paternal grandfather, Michael O'Hanlon, was a medical student at University College Dublin who had joined the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the Irish War of Independence and was a member of Michael Collins's Squad, which assassinated British secret service agents on the morning of Bloody Sunday. Details of his grandfather's activities survive in UCD Archives, as well as Blackrock College. It also transpired that, on his mother's side, he is a close relative of Peter Fenelon Collier.

O'Hanlon was schooled in Blackrock College in Dublin and graduated, in 1987, from the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, (now Dublin City University) with a degree in Communications Studies.[citation needed]


Together with Kevin Gildea and Barry Murphy, O'Hanlon founded the International Comedy Cellar, upstairs in the International Bar on Dublin's South Wicklow Street. Dublin had no comedy scene at the time. As a stand up, O'Hanlon won the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year competition in 1994. For a time he was the presenter of The Stand Up Show.

He was spotted by Graham Linehan, who was to cast him as Father Dougal McGuire in Father Ted (1995–98). In 1995 he received the Top TV Comedy Newcomer at the British Comedy Awards for this role. In 1995, he appeared (as Father Dougal) in a Channel 4 ident ("Hello, you're watching.... television"), and during Comic Relief on BBC1. This was followed by the award-winning short comedy film Flying Saucer Rock'n'Roll. In a 2019 interview, O'Hanlon admitted that he had attempted to distance himself from Father Ted once the show had finished.[1]

O'Hanlon moved into straight acting alongside Emma Fielding and Beth Goddard in the ITV comedy-drama Big Bad World, which aired for two series in summer 1999 and winter 2001. He also played a minor role in The Butcher Boy as Joe's (Francie's best friend) father, and appeared in an episode of the original Whose Line is it Anyway?.

In 2000, O'Hanlon starred in the comedy series My Hero, in which he played a very naive superhero from the planet Ultron. His character juggled world-saving heroics with life in suburbia. He stayed in the role until the first episode of series 6 in July 2006, when he was replaced by James Dreyfus during the same episode.

O'Hanlon also provided the voice of the lead character in the three Christmas television cartoon specials of Robbie the Reindeer. He appeared in the 2005 BBC One sitcom Blessed, written by Ben Elton; at the 2005 British Comedy Awards, it was publicly slated by Jonathan Ross, albeit in jest.[citation needed] Towards the end of 2005, he played an eccentric Scottish character, Coconut Tam, in the family based film, The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby. He has also appeared on radio, including an appearance on Quote... Unquote on BBC Radio 4 on 18 July 2011. Appropriately, one of his questions concerned a quotation from Father Ted. In 2015 he appeared as incompetent angel Smallbone in the sitcom The Best Laid Plans, on the same channel.

In 2006, O'Hanlon wrote and presented an RTÉ television series called Leagues Apart, which saw him investigate the biggest and most passionate football rivalries in a number of European countries. Included were Roma vs Lazio in Italy, Barcelona vs Real Madrid in Spain, and Galatasaray vs Fenerbahce in Turkey. He followed this with another RTÉ show, So You Want To Be Taoiseach? in 2007. It was a political series in which O'Hanlon gave tongue-in-cheek advice on how to go about becoming Taoiseach of Ireland.

He appeared in the Doctor Who episode "Gridlock", broadcast on 14 April 2007, in which he played a cat-like creature named Thomas Kincade Brannigan.[2] O'Hanlon appears in Series 3 of the TV show Skins, playing Naomi Campbell (Lily Loveless)'s Politics teacher named Kieran, who attempted to kiss her. He then went on to form a relationship with Naomi's mother (Olivia Colman). O'Hanlon plays the lead role in Irish comedy television programme Val Falvey, TD on RTÉ One. He has recently[when?] performed in the Edinburgh Fringe.

In February 2011, O'Hanlon returned to the Gate Theatre, Dublin starring in the Irish premiere of Christopher Hampton's translation of Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage, alongside Maura Tierney. Later that year, he appeared in the comedy panel show Argumental.

O'Hanlon has written a novel, The Talk of the Town (known in the United States as Knick Knack Paddy Whack), which was published in 1998. The novel is about a teenage boy, Patrick Scully, and his friends.

In February 2015 he officially launched the 2015 Sky Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, which took place in Kilkenny from 28 May–1 June.[3] In 2015 he played the role of Peter the Milkman in the Sky One sitcom After Hours.

On 2 February 2017, it was announced he would play the lead role in the BBC crime drama Death in Paradise taking the role of DI Jack Mooney following Kris Marshall's departure the same day. He announced his intention to leave the series in early 2020 and was replaced by Ralf Little.[4]

TV and filmography[edit]

Year Title Role
1995–1998 Father Ted Father Dougal McGuire
1996 Flying Saucer Rock'n'Roll Eddie Johnny[5]
1997 Whose Line Is It Anyway? Himself
1997 The Butcher Boy Mr Percell
1997 Top of the Pops Guest Presenter (1 Episode)[6]
1999 Hooves of Fire Robbie
1999–2001 Big Bad World Eamon Donaghy
2000–2006 My Hero George Sunday/Thermoman
2002 Legend of the Lost Tribe Robbie
2004 Jack Dee Live at the Apollo Himself
2005 Blessed Gary
2005–2006 The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby Coconut Tam
2007 Close Encounters of the Herd Kind Robbie
2007 Doctor Who – "Gridlock" Thomas Brannigan
2008 Who Do You Think You Are? Himself
2008 Tales of the Riverbank Hammy
2009 Wide Open Spaces Myles
2009 Val Falvey, TD Val Falvey
2009 Skins Kieran
2010 Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow Himself
2013 London Irish Chris "Da" Lynch
2014–2018 Lily's Driftwood Bay Bull Dozer
2015 Cucumber Brian
2015 After Hours Willow's Dad
2015 Nelly and Nora Dad (voice)
2016 Around Ireland Himself
2016 Handsome Devil Dan Roche
2017–2020 Death in Paradise DI Jack Mooney
2020 Derry Girls Eamonn


O'Hanlon has been doing stand-up comedy for many years, appearing on many shows including Live at the Apollo, Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow and Dave's One Night Stand. In 1994 he won the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year.[citation needed]

Year Name
1997 Ardal O'Hanlon Live From Dublin's Gaiety Theatre
2000 Ardal O'Hanlon Live
2007 Ardal O'Hanlon Live in Dublin
2013 Ardal O'Hanlon Live
2019–2020 The Showing Off Must Go On


Year Name
1994 Hackney Empire New Act of the Year
1995 Top TV Comedy Newcomer at the British Comedy Awards

Personal life[edit]

O'Hanlon is married to Melanie O'Hanlon, whom he met as a teenager; they have three children: Emily, Rebecca and Red.[7] He is a supporter of Leeds United.[8]


  1. ^ "Ardal O'Hanlon: I had to distance myself from Father Ted after it finished". Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  2. ^ Masters, Tim (22 March 2007). "Fans mad for Doctor's new companion". BBC News. Archived from the original on 28 March 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2007.
  3. ^ "Ardal O'Hanlan launches this year's Cats Laughs as the festival comes of age". 26 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Death in Paradise: When is Ralf Little's first episode?". 27 January 2020.
  5. ^ simon_duddy ( (1 October 1998). "Flying Saucer Rock'n'Roll (1998)". IMDb. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  6. ^ "BBC – Top of the Pops 2 – Trivia". Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  7. ^ Dwyer, Ciara (7 May 2012). "Ardal O'Hanlon: Stand up for a life well lived". Irish Independent. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  8. ^ Tench, Matt (3 August 2003). "My team: Ardal O'Hanlon". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 July 2015.

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