As the awkward yet strangely endearing Father Ted Crilly in the popular Channel 4 series Father Ted, Dermot Morgan’s perfect comic timing and nuanced performances made him a household name. Today, twenty years after the programme was first broadcast in April 1995, it has become essential viewing for comedy aficionados in Morgan’s native Ireland, Britain and many other parts of the world.
Born into a devout Catholic family in Dublin on 31st March 1952, Morgan went into teaching after graduating from University College, Dublin, in 1974. However, he soon abandoned his career in education to pursue his love of writing and performing his own comic routines, a passion that had first been ignited whilst he was at university.
In 1979, Morgan was offered a regular slot on The Live Mike, an Irish comedy and chat show presented by the radio and television veteran Mike Murphy. Morgan’s sketches proved to be a hit, and, in a move that presaged the character that would make him internationally famous, his most amusing creation for the show was Father Trendy, a young priest whose attempts to appear ‘trendy’ repeatedly fell flat. A book lampooning the Catholic Church, entitled Trendy Sermons, was published in 1982; Morgan’s burgeoning comedic career was negatively affected by the publication, and as a result, he found himself briefly boycotted by almost every television and radio station in Ireland.
Above: Dermot Morgan as Father Trendy from The Live Mike (1980)