Are You Right There Father Ted?
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|"Are You Right There Father Ted?"|
|Father Ted episode|
Ted gestures behind a perfectly square bit of black dirt on the window
|Episode no.||Series 3
|Directed by||Andy DeEmmony|
|Written by||Graham Linehan, Arthur Mathews|
|Original air date||13 March 1998|
|Awards||Rose d'Or – Bronze Rose|
Patrick Kavanagh (Fr Seamus Fitzpatrick),
"Are You Right There Father Ted?" is the first episode of the third series of the Channel 4 television sitcom Father Ted, and the 18th episode overall. It is notable for being the first episode aired after the death of Dermot Morgan, who had died the day after filming for the final episode had been completed. As a mark of respect to Morgan, the original transmission of the first episode was delayed by a week.
In the episode's prologue, Ted – who has apparently been promoted, likely as a result of the Golden Cleric award he won in the previous episode – relaxes in a luxurious Dublin parish mansion, with a respected clergyman after an "exhausting" holiday to Paris, politely bartering over which masses the pair will tend to that day. Ted awaits his favorite dinner of pheasant and optimistically muses over his immediate future, whilst recalling his days on Craggy Island with pure hatred. All of a sudden, a church accountant asks Ted about a discrepancy with church expenses... and Ted is promptly sent back to cold, rainy Craggy Island, to Dougal's delight.
As the episode proper begins, Ted – after settling in – collects a borrowed copy of Stephen King's The Shining from a friend, Father Seamus Fitzpatrick, and is surprised by his sizeable collection of Nazi memorabilia (his collection more resembles a shrine to the Third Reich, along with a former Nazi veteran). On Ted returning home, Mrs. Doyle injures her back after falling off the roof. Because of this, Ted and Dougal are forced to assume her cleaning tasks, and quickly become very bored. To liven things up, Ted places a lampshade on his head like a coolie hat, and does an offensive imitation of a Chinaman. Unfortunately, he looks out the window and sees a family of three Chinese people watching him. Before long, rumours that Ted is racist are flying all over Craggy Island; most of his honest attempts to prove otherwise are blighted either by incongruous objects or downright ill luck. At one point, he is seen standing behind a window with a perfectly square bit of black dirt on it, thus appearing to give him a toothbrush moustache similar to Adolf Hitler's.
After fronting a (laughable) presentation of cultural diversity on Craggy Island, Ted resorts to wining the Chinese families and apologizing for his mishaps, to a degree of success, mostly due to the provision of free alcohol. Unbeknownst to Ted, however, Father Fitzpatrick had died in a medication mix-up a few days ago (he and his Nazi associate inadvertently took cyanide pills they mistook for valium) and had left his Nazi collection to Ted, instructing "Habit-Hat" (with whom Ted had ordered furniture recently) to mail the offensive collection to the Parochial House. Mrs. Doyle has already placed the collection on full display by the time Ted and Dougal return – with the Chinese people – to the house for a nightcap.
In utter desperation, Ted sends more alcohol to the Yin family the following day: unfortunately, Father Jack intervenes by emerging in an SS uniform from a box, having drunk all the liquor.
Father Jack spends practically the entire episode in small spaces, including inside a grandfather clock, which leads Ted to assume Jack is agoraphobic, which Dougal thinks is a fear of fighting, likely because he misheard "agora" as "aggro".
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In the book Father Ted: The Complete Scripts, Arthur Mathews observes that the islanders' actions in this episode are the opposite of those in "The Passion of Saint Tibulus": in the earlier episode, they completely fail to do what Ted wants them to, while in this episode they enthusiastically follow what they imagine to be Ted's example even though he desperately wants them not to.
- Ted's new parish, Castlelawn, is clearly meant to be a more pleasant version of Craggy Island, considering that the episode begins with Ted asking Father Smith, an elderly priest, who happens to be drinking a glass of port, about the times when he can say Mass. This reflects the opening of "Good Luck, Father Ted" when he asks Father Jack, another elderly priest with a fondness for drink, the same thing. Also, Ted lives with a young, sporty priest named Darren in his new parish, who is obviously meant to a more posh version of Father Dougal.
- The pub Ted visits is Vaughan's, a real pub in Kilfenora, County Clare.
- Ted's slides feature:
- An unnamed black man who visited the island a few years ago
- The Great Wall of China ("So big you can see it from anywhere in the world," Ted remarks)
- Mao Zedong
- Mr. Miyagi from the film The Karate Kid (Mr. Miyagi is actually Japanese, not Chinese)
- Cato from the Pink Panther films
- A Māori man (Ted claims this is an accident as there are no Maori on Craggy Island, even though a Maori is sitting in the audience)
- Ming the Merciless, fictional character from Flash Gordon (Ming is often criticized as a negative Chinese stereotype)
- Two photographs of groups of Chinese people
- Ted himself
- The words "NOT A RACIST"
- Father Jack's agoraphobia in this episode contrasts with the claustrophobia he had in "Grant unto Him Eternal Rest" that had Ted and Dougal waiting by his coffin the night before the funeral to make sure he is not buried alive (which was prevented by his "resurrection"). Ted mentioned he always had a fear of enclosed spaces like the kind he now hides in.
- The ending theme is redone in a Chinese Folk style.