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Ardal O'Hanlon

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Ardal O'Hanlon
Born (1965-10-08) 8 October 1965 (age 58)
EducationBlackrock College
Alma materNIHE, Dublin
  • Actor
  • comedian
Years active1991–present
SpouseMelanie O'Hanlon
RelativesPeter Fenelon Collier

Ardal O'Hanlon (/ˈhænlən/; born 8 October 1965) is an Irish comedian, actor, and author. 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). His novel The Talk of the Town was published in 1998.

Early life[edit]

O'Hanlon was born in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan,[1] the son of Fianna Fáil TD and physician Rory O'Hanlon and Teresa (née Ward).[1] He is the third of six children, and has three brothers and two sisters.[2]

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 communication studies.[3]


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.[1] 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.[1]

He was spotted by Graham Linehan, who was to cast him as Father Dougal McGuire in Father Ted (1995–98). During filming, O’Hanlon went to buy shoes. Still being in costume, the seller thought he was a real priest and offered the footwear for free.[4] 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.[1] 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.[1] 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.[5] 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 catlike creature named Thomas Kincade Brannigan.[6] O'Hanlon appears in series 3 of the TV show Skins,[1] 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. In 2012, he 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.[7] 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.[8]

On 25 November 2021, it was announced that he would participate in series 13 of Taskmaster.[9] He finished in 4th place ahead of Judi Love.

In January 2024, he presented his first Irish language show, Inis na nIontas, on TG4, exploring the islands around the coast of Ireland.[10]

Personal life[edit]

O'Hanlon met his wife Melanie as a teenager. They have three children.[11] He is a supporter of Leeds United.[12]


Year Title Role Notes
1995–1998 Father Ted Father Dougal McGuire Series 1–3 (25 episodes)
1996 Flying Saucer Rock'n'Roll Eddie Johnny [13]
1997 Whose Line Is It Anyway? Himself
The Butcher Boy Mr Percell
Top of the Pops Himself Guest Presenter (1 Episode)[14]
1999 Hooves of Fire Robbie
1999–2001 Big Bad World Eamon Donaghy
2000–2006 My Hero George Sunday/Thermoman Series 1–6 (44 episodes)
2002 Legend of the Lost Tribe Robbie
2004 Jack Dee Live at the Apollo Himself
2005 Blessed Gary Chandler
2005–2006 The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby Coconut Tam
2007 Close Encounters of the Herd Kind Robbie
Doctor Who Thomas Brannigan Episode: "Gridlock"
2008 Who Do You Think You Are? Himself
Tales of the Riverbank Hammy
2009 Wide Open Spaces Myles
Val Falvey, TD Val Falvey
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
After Hours Peter Hannigan
Nelly and Nora Dad Voice role
2016 Around Ireland Himself
Handsome Devil Dan Roche
2017–2020 Death in Paradise DI Jack Mooney Series 6-9 (24 episodes)
2019–2022 Derry Girls Eamonn 2 episodes
2021 The Deirdre O'Kane Show Himself 1 episode
Would I Lie To You? Himself Contestant, Christmas Special
2022 Taskmaster Himself Contestant, series 13
Countdown Himself
2023 The Woman in the Wall Dara
2023–2024 Extraordinary Martin Voice only
2024 Inis na nIontas Himself
TBA Fran the Man Jim In production


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


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Christie, Janet (11 November 2019). "Ardal O'Hanlon: I had to distance myself from Father Ted after it finished". scotsman.com. Archived from the original on 3 June 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  2. ^ Palmer, Camilla (27 December 2013). "Ardal O'Hanlon: My family values". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 18 December 2021. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  3. ^ Freyne, Patrick. "Ardal O'Hanlon: 'I was always this weird, watchful kind of kid'". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 18 April 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  4. ^ "Ardal O'Hanlon Interview Father Ted Death in Paradise". YouTube. Archived from the original on 22 November 2021.
  5. ^ "9783612650702: Talk of the Town. - O'Hanlon, Ardal: 361265070X - AbeBooks". www.abebooks.com. Archived from the original on 7 November 2022. Retrieved 7 November 2022.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Ardal O'Hanlan launches this year's Cats Laughs as the festival comes of age". evoke.ie. 26 February 2015. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017.
  8. ^ Palmer, Katie (27 January 2020). "Death in Paradise: When is Ralf Little's first episode?". express.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 January 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  9. ^ @Taskmaster (25 November 2021). "Taskmaster will return in 2022" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  10. ^ "Ardal O'Hanlon to present his first Irish language show". 19 December 2023. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ Dwyer, Ciara (7 May 2012). "Ardal O'Hanlon: Stand up for a life well lived". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 30 July 2018. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  12. ^ Tench, Matt (3 August 2003). "My team: Ardal O'Hanlon". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  13. ^ simon_duddy (simon_duddy@vnu.co.uk) (1 October 1998). "Flying Saucer Rock'n'Roll (1998)". IMDb. Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  14. ^ "BBC – Top of the Pops 2 – Trivia". bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2 March 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2015.

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