Entertaining Father Stone
|"Entertaining Father Stone"|
|Father Ted episode|
|Episode no.||Series 1
|Directed by||Declan Lowney|
|Featured music||The Divine Comedy|
|Original air date||28 April 1995|
Michael Redmond (Father Paul Stone)
Arthur Mathews introduces this episode by stating that the idea for Father Stone came from a 'friend' of a friend who stayed with the friend for his holidays and used to cheat at golf. This person had the ability to dominate and ruin the atmosphere of a room.
Ted announces to a horrified Dougal that Father Paul Stone (Michael Redmond) has come for his holidays. For the preceding six years, Father Stone has visited the parochial house; he is pathologically boring and is totally unable to hold a conversation, giving one-sentence answers at the most and dominating the room with his awkward protracted silences. To try to stop him from coming, Ted told Father Stone incredible lies, but this failed to deter him.
Ted and Dougal attempt to make Father Stone leave; they say that they're going on holidays, but he offers to mind the house while they're gone. Having to think of a new excuse quickly, Dougal says that they are having the paintings re-hung, which will prevent anyone from remaining in the house for that period because of the danger this brings. Father Jack fails to take well to the news that Father Stone is there as well and punches Ted through a window. Paul at one point even follows Ted into the bathroom, who is having a bath at the time, in order to use the toilet.
Whilst in their beds at 7:30pm, having retired for the night extremely early to avoid further contact with Father Stone, Ted and Dougal begin looking over Father Stone's previous visits and their outlandish attempts to avoid contact with him. Ted says Paul will definitely be gone by Ted's birthday party, which is three weeks away. However, Father Stone does stay for the party, sucking all of the life out of it. Ted becomes so desperate that he prays to God to get rid of Father Stone, any way that he can. The following day, in a thunderstorm, Ted and Dougal go to the Crazy Golf Course, maintaining that even that is better than being with Father Stone. However, he turns up. They encourage him to have a go. As he gets ready to swing, he holds the golf club up high, and is struck by lightning.
At the local hospital, Ted and Dougal wait for news on Father Stone's condition. Dougal demonstrates his stupidity by asserting that he is unsure why someone would need serious medical attention after being struck by lightning, mentioning himself being struck by lightning and not needing medical attention, to which Ted replies Dougal isn't like other people, all that happened to Dougal after being struck by lightning was balloons kept sticking to him. Ted and Dougal then go in to see Father Stone: he is wearing red pyjamas, standing up, still holding the golf club, but he is not responding to any stimulus and is in shock.
Father Stone's parents and maternal grandmother arrive, with his somewhat boisterous father very apologetic for his son's behaviour, scolding him for upsetting his mother like this, and saying it would have been better if he had been killed. Paul's ominous grandmother says quietly to Ted that she "knows what he is up to", frightening him. His mother then tells Ted what a hero he is to Father Stone; to Ted's surprise, when he returns from visiting Craggy Island, Paul is constantly talking and telling his parents about his stay. He even counts the days until his next holiday on a calendar with Ted's picture on it and has drawn an elaborate picture of himself and Ted.
This makes Ted feel very guilty about having prayed for Father Stone to leave, and scared that the grandmother seems to know what he did, as he thinks elderly women are far closer to God than priests. Ted begins praying at Father Stone's bedside, saying that Paul can stay for as long as he wants, that he will look after him "until the end of his days". Dougal tries to intervene but Ted continues regardless. After a brief interval, Father Stone regains consciousness, and is his old self again, giving one-word answers. Finally, we see that Father Stone, as promised, has been allowed to stay on Craggy Island. A faint smile breaks across his face.
The episode's title is a play on the name of the play Entertaining Mr Sloane by playwright Joe Orton. The picture Father Stone paints of himself and Ted can be seen on the wall, in the living room, in later episodes. There is a slight continuity error in this episode, the JVC video recorder which was given to Ted and Dougal as a gift in the following episode can be seen on top of the television.
Mathews makes a cameo appearance as a guest at Ted's birthday party. This episode is Mathews's favourite, and was given the prominent position of airing as the series's second episode for this reason. The character of Father Stone is based on a man who repeatedly invited himself to visit two of Mathews's friends; according to Mathews, the visitor was eager to see the couple, but never made any attempt to be good company.
Linehan and Mathews clashed with the art department on this episode: the writers wanted the show's hospitals and police stations modern, to contrast with Craggy Island's environs, but they ended up looking similarly rural and beaten-down.
Kate Binchy, the actress who played Father Stone's mother, became ill shortly before filming was due to begin. The production had insufficient time to find a replacement, and resorted to casting Pauline McLynn in the role. McLynn was prepared to play the part, and was in full make-up and costume on the day of filming; however, Binchy recovered at the last minute and was able to take the role. The writers later noted that they would have "gotten away with it" since Mrs Doyle had hardly been shown at this point in the series, but that it would have been the "oddest thing in the world" on repeated viewings.