Old Grey Whistle Theft

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"Old Grey Whistle Theft"
Father Ted episode
Episode no. Series 2
Episode 4
Directed by Declan Lowney
Written by
Produced by Lissa Evans
Featured music The Divine Comedy
Cinematography by Chris Owen
Editing by
  • Mykola Pawluk
  • Tim Waddell
Original air date 29 March 1996 (1996-03-29)
Guest appearance(s)
  • Joe Rooney (Father Damien Lennon)
  • John Olohan (Sergeant Hodgins)
  • Tony Guilfoyle (Father Larry Duff)
  • Rio Fanning (Father Frost)
  • Arthur Mathews and Charlotte Bradley (Picnic Couple)
  • Mal Whyte (Benson)
  • Don Foley (Jim)
  • Patrick Drury (John)
  • Rynagh O'Grady (Mary)
  • Ann Rowan (Mrs Glynn)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Tentacles of Doom"
Next →
"A Song for Europe"
List of Father Ted episodes

"Old Grey Whistle Theft" is the fourth episode of the second series of the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted. The title is a pun on the BBC TV music show The Old Grey Whistle Test.


Ted is preparing for a picnic outing. The day quickly turns into a fiasco as Mrs. Doyle makes an abundance of egg sandwiches - the only kind of sandwich that Ted passionately hates, and that all of the other priests Ted invited (including Dougal) are unable to make it. Ted calls Father Larry Duff, who with a group of other priests have been stopped by soldiers after smuggled weapons were found in the boot of the priests' car. (When one of the priests makes a run for it, he is apparently shot and killed by a soldier.) Ted and Jack travel to the desolate picnic area and sit quietly. They are accosted by a couple of aggressive regulars who insist that the priests move, despite the fact that they are the only people in the entire area. The overzealous groundskeeper, Benson, defuses the situation with unnecessary aplomb and Ted leaves in disgust. He is particularly annoyed by Benson's use of a loud whistle.

Ted is put off further by Dougal's friendship with a rebellious new priest, Father Damien "Damo" Lennon, who behaves like an insolent teenager. Under "Damo's" influence, Dougal pierces his ear, hints at having experimented with illegal drugs, and makes fun of Ted for being unhip and behind the times. That night, someone sneaks into Benson's cabin and steals the whistle, flashing an obscenity to the sleeping Benson before departing. The next day, the island is in an uproar over the news. The police acquire a helicopter to deal with the threat and the Craggy Island citizenry use outrageous means to protect themselves from the apparent "crime wave".

Ted discovers the whistle in Dougal's coat, hidden in a pack of cigarettes. As he tries to pressure a clueless Dougal into owning up to the theft, Benson and Police Sergeant Hodgkins enter the parochial house. Benson has lost the use of his right leg and uses a wheelchair, due to the shock associated with the loss of the whistle. He reveals that a witness says a priest took the whistle, recognizing the collar. Sergeant Hodgkins is desperate for leads. Dougal enters and states that Ted stole the whistle, misinterpreting Ted's concern for Dougal as an admission of guilt. Ted appears dead to rights and abruptly leaves to think up an explanation. After he leaves, Father Frost enters, dragging Father Lennon by the ear. He has discovered that Lennon stole the whistle and attempted to pass the blame onto Dougal. All are satisfied. Ted re-enters and begins spinning a fantastic lie about what drove him to steal the whistle. He continues for some time before realising that all is well. Ted gives Dougal a lecture about putting his trust in those who are "cool". When asked if he had learned anything, Dougal simply replies, "No." The closing credits feature Dougal and "Damo" playing football.


In 2015, Joe Rooney said that he would be interested in making a Father Damo spin-off, and suggested that Damo would probably be working in The Projects in New York City, living with "a girl and a gay fella" and rapping Mass.[1] In 2016, Rooney reprised the role of Damo for an Over The Top wrestling match alongside Patrick McDonnell and Michael Redmond as Eoin McLove and Father Stone.[2]


  1. ^ Rooney, Joe (16 July 2015). Pod-a-Rooney Episode 15 – Katherine Lynch (Podcast). Ireland: Castaway Media. 
  2. ^ Kelly, Daniel (1 March 2016). "Eoin McLove, Father Damo and Father Stone all turned up at a Dublin wrestling event". Newstalk. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 

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