Think Fast, Father Ted

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"Think Fast, Father Ted"
Father Ted episode
Episode no. Series 2
Episode 2
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 15 March 1996
Guest actors
  • James Benson (Father Liam Finnegan)
  • Gerry O'Brien (Father Billy O'Dwyer)
  • Ben Keaton (Father Austin Purcell)
Episode chronology
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List of Father Ted episodes

"Think Fast, Father Ted" is the second episode of the second series of the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted. The title is a play on the novel Think Fast, Mr. Moto by John P. Marquand, and the film of the same title starring Peter Lorre.


The parochial house has a leak, which happens to be over Jack's head. Ted and Dougal move him, only to have another leak start over Jack's new position. Ted decides to hold a raffle to raise money for the roof. He calls Bishop Brennan and secures permission to raffle a blue Rover 213. Ted and Dougal leave to retrieve the Rover. Upon their return, Dougal spots a small dent on the bonnet. Ted is dismayed and tries to "tap it away" with a hammer from the tool kit. However, after much time has passed, Ted has only succeeded in destroying the car's exterior.

Realising that they are in dire straits if Bishop Brennan should learn what was done to the Rover, Ted decides to procure another. The priests remember that Father Finnegan, the so-called "dancing priest", has a Rover identical to the ruined original. They travel to Finnegan's home to "borrow" the Rover. Ted gets permission and the keys. As soon as Ted leaves his sight, Father Finnegan drops dead of a heart attack.

Realising that they can't give the borrowed Rover away, Ted and Dougal rig the raffle in order for them to win and return the car. The plan involves Ted, as the Master of Ceremonies, calling the number 11. This number will be Dougal's. On the day of the event, Ted and Dougal work feverishly to sell tickets. They also secure Father Billy O'Dwyer, a.k.a. "Spinmaster", to provide music. However, he only has one record and a major gambling problem, which results in his purchase of 2000 raffle tickets. Later, the announcement that the organizers have won the raffle manages to suck the life out of the event.

Back at the parochial house, Mrs. Doyle reveals that Father Finnegan has died. Ted is relieved, realizing he will be able to keep the car. However, things turn to the worse quickly. Ted discovers that an inebriated Father Jack has stolen the car in an effort to acquire more to drink. He asks Father Jack what he has done with the car. Jack explains curtly that he ran into two trucks. When Ted and Dougal inspect the damage, they discover that the rear half has been smashed beyond repair. While they are out, Father O'Dwyer steals the raffle money to pay off his debts, leaving Ted and Dougal with nothing. With the weathermen predicting rain until August, and the leak getting worse and worse, Ted, Jack, Dougal and Mrs Doyle are forced to spend the rest of the year in anoraks.


The episode's title is a reference to the 1937 film Think Fast, Mr. Moto. At one point, the writers intended every episode title to contain the name "Father Ted", in reference to the Mr. Moto series, but they ran out of ideas for this format.[1]

In the commentary, Linehan notes that this episode was where they began to expand Father Jack's vocabulary, with the "I'm a happy camper" scene. They considered writing an episode where Jack's eloquent, articulate brother visits, also played by Frank Kelly, most likely titled "Double Trouble", but decided the concept would be too clichéd.[1]

At the time of writing this episode, Mathews was "obsessed" with the poor special effects of Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 film The Birds. The non sequitur scene where the priests are attacked by birds was originally an attempt to recreate the film's backwards tracking shot, with people running and waving their hands, which Mathews found unintentionally hilarious. Linehan notes that the joke did not translate well in the final episode, because the special effect for the birds was actually quite good.[1]

The dancing priest was inspired by Neil Horan, a real Catholic priest who "danced for peace". A young Aidan Gillen auditioned for the role. As part of the audition, he had to dance alongside Linehan (who performed Ted's lines). According to Linehan, Gillen became so embarrassed by the situation that he ran out of the building and never returned. Ben Keaton also auditioned for the part, but the writers were so impressed by his performance that they gave him the larger role of Father Purcell.[1]

In retrospect, the writers were unsure what the joke in Father Purcell's line "Ah, it's yourself!" was. Linehan thought the joke was that Purcell believes the throw blanket is really Jesus, while Mathews thought the joke was that Purcell will simply talk to anything. The credits scene, where Father Purcell talks to himself in the closet, was almost entirely improvised by Keaton.[1]

Linehan notes that some people think "Ghost Town" by The Specials is an inherently funny song because of its use in the episode, while the joke was originally that it is simply "not a floor filler".[1]

Mathews plays one of the four priests in the Kraftwerk-esque band at the raffle. The weatherman on the television is voiced by director Declan Lowney. Neither were credited for their cameo appearances.[1]


In 2014, Ben Keaton returned to the role of Father Purcell, performing a stand-up routine and hosting pub quizzes entirely in character. Keaton also set up a Twitter page for the character, and a website where fans can purchase customised Father Purcell video greetings.[2][3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Linehan, Graham; Mathews, Arthur. Father Ted DVD Commentaries (Podcast). United Kingdom: Channel 4. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Father Austin Purcell". Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  3. ^ Smith, Gregor (November 2014). "Review: Father Austin Purcell delights crowd… within a two metre radius". The Linc. Retrieved 21 April 2015. 

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