Frank Kelly

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For other people named Frank Kelly, see Frank Kelly (disambiguation).
Frank Kelly
Born Francis O'Kelly
(1938-12-28) 28 December 1938 (age 77)
Occupation Actor
Years active 1968–present
Notable work Father Ted (1995–1998)
Spouse(s) Bairbre Neldon (m. 1964)
Parent(s) Charles E. Kelly (father)

Frank Kelly (born Francis O'Kelly on 28 December 1938) is an Irish actor, singer and writer, whose career has covered television, radio, theatre, music, screenwriting and film. He played Father Jack Hackett in the sitcom Father Ted. He is the son of the cartoonist Charles E. Kelly.

Early career[edit]

Kelly's first film role was as an uncredited prison officer in The Italian Job (1969), escorting Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) out of prison in the film's opening sequence.

He starred in the popular RTÉ children's programme Wanderly Wagon alongside Eugene Lambert and Nora O'Mahoney from 1968–1982, playing a number of different characters and writing many of the scripts. It was Kelly's work on Hall's Pictorial Weekly (1970–1982) which established him as one of Ireland's most recognisable faces. He memorably portrayed councillor Parnell Mooney, a send-up of a backwoods Local Authority figure in rural Ireland. Kelly won a Jacob's Award in 1974 for his work on the series.

In the early 1980s, he was featured in the RTÉ TV show for those learning Irish Anois is Aris, at the end of the programme, speaking into a telephone, gradually introducing Irish phrases.[1] In 1988 he appeared in the Irish thriller film Taffin.

Father Ted[edit]

Kelly is best known outside Ireland for playing Father Jack Hackett in the comedy series Father Ted, which aired originally in the United Kingdom in April 1995 and ran through until May 1998. Father Jack is an old and somewhat perverse priest who usually says only "feck!", "arse!", "drink!" and "girls!".

For his role in Father Ted, he wore contact lenses (to show Father Jack's blank eye) and people would not eat lunch with him during filming if he was in his Father Jack make-up.[2]

Later career[edit]

In 1999 to 2001 Kelly starred in Glenroe as Maurice and played Henry Doyle (father of Pierce Brosnan's Desmond Doyle) in Evelyn (2002). He appeared in the film Rat in 2000, a priest called Father Pickle in the TV series Lexx (2001), in series 4, episode 6 called The Rock and also in the short film, Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom, in 2003. That same year, he had a major role as John Smith, leader of the Labour Party, in the UK Television drama The Deal.

In 2007 he acted in the TG4 political drama Running Mate, about an election campaign.[3] He also appears in the TG4 series Paddywhackery.

On 29 September 2010, it was announced that Kelly has joined ITV1 soap Emmerdale, playing the role of Dermot, Declan Macey's father.[4] It was later announced that he was leaving the soap, after just five months of filming, because he missed his family in Ireland too much.[5]

A regular Irish stage actor, Kelly has toured extensively in the US and Canada. He regularly provides voice-overs and TV advertising work, and has appeared with Mr Tayto in the recent popular campaign for Tayto crisps.

In 2014 he appeared as the judge in Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie.[6]

Radio comedy[edit]

Many of his popular radio sketches originated from "The Glen Abbey Show" on RTÉ Radio 1 in the 1970s–1990s. With Kelly playing the part of a culchie called "Gobnait O'Lúnasa", they typically started with the sound of him putting coins in an old freckle coin box, and when the phone rang and was answered, his words were, "Hello! Guess who? Is that you Nuala?" Kelly would act the part of an English BBC reporter interviewing rural inhabitants about local customs, such as watching bacon being sliced, or "ha-hooing" (shouting a Rebel yell) competitions. Typically the village was called Ballykilferret and described by the BBC man as being in "the Republic of Eer-ah" (a mispronunciation of Éire, designed to annoy purists). A compilation of his sketches was released on a CD in about 2000.

Tracks included the Ayatollah Ceili Band (a pun on The Tulla Céilí Band), Magnum Farce, Incoming Call, Festive Spirit, Hymn of Praise, Call of the Wild, Festive Note and Siege Mentality.

Music career[edit]

Kelly released a single, "Christmas Countdown", a comedy song based on the "12 Days of Christmas" carol (penned by Hugh Leonard), which reached number 8 in the Irish Singles Chart in 1982 and peaked at 26 in the UK Singles Chart in 1984.[7] He also released an album, Comedy Countdown, which featured a sketch taken from his weekday RTÉ radio show, The Glen Abbey Show.



Title Year Role Notes
The Italian Job
Prisoner in cell
Uncredited role
Grand Duke's Owls
Animated film; voice role
Hear My Song
Taxi Driver #2
War of the Buttons
Gorilla's Dad
Soft Sand, Blue Sea
Inspector Fitzgerald
Uncle Matt
Henry Doyle
The Boys from County Clare
The Chairman
Alternatively titled The Great Ceili War
Cowboys & Angels
Turning Green
Father O'Hara
Waiting For Dublin
Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie
Justice Cannon


Title Year Role Notes
Wanderly Wagon
Professor Astro
Pictorial Weekly
Various characters
Second City Firsts
Season 4, Episode 2 - "Swallows"
Teems of Times
Giggles Devoy
Season 1 - 4 episodes
The Irish R.M.
Bat Callaghan
Season 2, Episode 2 - "The Dispensary Doctor"
Remington Steel
Willard Skeggs
Season 3, Episode 6 - "Steele Your Hear Away"
Screen Two
Hotel priest
Season 10, Episode 5 - "O Mary This London"
Father Ted
Father Jack Hackett
3 seasons - 25 episodes
Miracle at Midnight
Television film
George Selwyn
Miniseries - 2 episodes
Maurice Nolan
Season 14 & Season 17 - 5 episodes
Various characters
Season 1
Father Pickle
Season 4, Episode 6 - "The Rock"
The Deal
John Smith
Television film
Malice Aforethought
Mr. Gunnell
Television film
The Running Mate
Pauly O'Sullivan
Miniseries - 4 episodes
Eddie Grant/Freddy Grant
Season 1 - 6 episodes
Val Falvey TD
Willy Nilly
Season 1, Episode 6 - "Dis Dat Dese Dose"
Dermot Macey
43 episodes

Short film[edit]

  • 35 Aside ... Nasty teacher (1996)
  • Fishing the Sloe-Black River ... The priest (1996)
  • Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom ... Paddy (2003)
  • The Unusual Inventions of Henry Cavendish ... Mr. Thomas Palmerston (2005)
  • A Day Out with Gwyn ... Gwyn Senior (2005)
  • Music Memories (2012)
  • Tea with the Dead ... Frank Finnegan (voice) (2014)
  • 69 and Dead ... Eamonn (2015)


External links[edit]