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definition - Dermot_Morgan

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Dermot Morgan

Dermot Morgan
Born Dermot John Morgan
(1952-03-31)31 March 1952
Dublin, Ireland
Died 28 February 1998(1998-02-28) (aged 45)
Hounslow, London, England
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Deansgrange Cemetery, South County Dublin
Nationality Irish
Ethnicity Irish
Education University College Dublin (UCD)
Occupation Actor, stand-up comedian
Years active 1979-1998
Television Father Ted
Religion None (atheist)[1]
Spouse Susanne Morgan
Partner Fiona Clarke
Children Three sons: 2 by Susanne, 1 by Fiona

Dermot John Morgan (31 March 1952 – 28 February 1998)[2] was an Irish comedian, actor and previously a schoolteacher, who achieved international renown for his role as Father Ted Crilly in the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted.


  Father Trendy and The Live Mike

Born in Dublin and educated at Oatlands College, Stillorgan, and University College, Dublin (U.C.D.), Morgan first came to prominence as part of the team of the highly successful RTÉ television show The Live Mike, presented by Mike Murphy.[3] Between 1979 and 1984 Morgan, previously a full-time teacher at St. Michael's College, Ailesbury Road, played a range of comic characters, who would appear between segments, including Father Trendy, an unctuous trying-to-be-cool Catholic priest given to drawing ludicrous parallels with non-religious life in two-minute 'chats' to camera. He also played (among other characters) an intolerant GAA bigot, who would wave his hurley around aggressively while verbally attacking his pet hates. He lampooned the Wolfe Tones' song "A Nation Once Again" by singing of a dog who saves his Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) master by eating a grenade during a search by the Black and Tans. When the dog farts and the grenade detonates, the British commented that, "It must have been something he ate." The song climaxed with the words, "I hope that I shall live to see Fido an Alsatian once again."

Morgan's success led him to quit teaching and become a full-time comedian.

  Kenny Live

His relationship with RTÉ, however, became difficult, as the station tried without success to find some way of making use of what it saw as Morgan's considerable but undisciplined talent; a number of attempts in the form of 'pilot' shows never aired. Morgan returned to the screen in the late 1980s playing his past roles and new ones - initially on Kenny Live, a new Saturday chat show presented by Pat Kenny which launched to fill the gap in the schedules left when The Late Late Show moved to a new Friday slot. However, the show axed its comedy slot when it changed its format in response to negative public responses to the show's structure.

  Mr. Eastwood

Morgan moved into a new area when he released a comedy single in December 1985, called "Thank you very very much, Mr. Eastwood",[2] a take on the fawning praise of his manager given after bouts by internationally successful Irish boxer Barry McGuigan, which 'featured' lines by McGuigan, Ronald Reagan, Bob Geldof and Ben Morgan.[4]

  Scrap Saturday

Morgan's biggest Irish broadcasting success occurred in the late 1980s in the Saturday morning radio comedy show, Scrap Saturday,[2] in which Morgan, co-scriptwriter Gerard Stembridge, Owen Roe and Pauline McLynn mocked Ireland's political, business and media establishment. In particular the relationship between then Taoiseach, the ever-controversial Charles Haughey, and his press secretary, P. J. Mara, became very popular, with Haughey's dismissive attitude towards the latter and Mara's adoring and grovelling attitude towards the "Boss . . . the greatest Leader, Man of Destiny, Statesman, Titan, a Colossus", winning critical praise.

Morgan pilloried Haughey's propensity for claiming a family connection to almost every part of Ireland he visited through the mocking use of a famous drinks advertisement for an Irish beer called Harp, which had played on the image of someone returning home and seeking friends, especially "Sally O'Brien, and the way she might look at you". In the Morgan skit version, Haughey's visits to somewhere in the world, from Dublin to Dubai and elsewhere, would invariably cue after a few seconds the traditional music of the real advertisement, at which Haughey would begin "did I tell you, P.J., about my cousins in . . . " And he would begin discussing "my cousin François Haughey" (France), "Helmut Haughey" (Germany), "Yassar Haughey" (Palestine), "Yitzak Haughey" (Israel) or wherever, to the increasingly despairing Mara, who would groan "Ah now Jaysus, Boss. Come on now, Ah Jaysus (sigh)!"

The Haughey/Mara "double act" became the star turn in a series that mocked all sides, from Haughey and his advisors to opposition Fine Gael TD Michael Noonan as a Limerick disk jockey called "Morning Noon'an Night" and a host of other characters. When RTÉ axed the show in the early 1990s a national outcry ensued. Morgan lashed the decision, calling it "a shameless act of broadcasting cowardice and political subservience". An RTÉ spokesman famously said "The show is not being axed, it's just not being continued!"

In 1991, Morgan received a Jacob's Award for his contribution to Scrap Saturday from the Irish national newspaper radio critics.

  Father Ted

Although already a celebrity in Ireland, Morgan's big break came over in Britain in the shape of the title-role in the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted, which ran for three series from 1995. Writers Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan developed the series from a character featured in the former's stand-up comedy act. The writers saw many actors for the role of Father Ted, but Morgan's enthusiasm eventually won him the role.

Father Ted centred on three disparate characters. Father Ted Crilly, played by Morgan, was living a frustrated life trapped on the island. Irish TV comedy actor Frank Kelly played the retired Father Jack Hackett, a foul-mouthed and apparently brain-damaged alcoholic, while child-minded Father Dougal McGuire was played by new Irish comedian Ardal O'Hanlon. In addition to the three priests was their housekeeper, Mrs. Doyle, played by Pauline McLynn, with whom Morgan had worked on Scrap Saturday.

  BAFTA Award

Father Ted's comic depiction of Irish Catholicism earned it wide popularity and critical acclaim. In 1998 the show won a BAFTA award for Best Comedy, while Morgan won a BAFTA for Best Actor, and McLynn the Best Actress award. Apart from the main characters, many other successful side characters featured, including the camp hyperactive Father Noel Furlong, played by Irish comedian and talk show host Graham Norton.[5]

  Death and legacy

  The 'Joker's Chair', a memorial to actor Dermot Morgan in Merrion Square, Dublin.

After recording of the third series of Father Ted had been completed, Morgan intended to work on a new comedy series, based around two retired football players living in a small flat together. However, 24 hours after finishing the recording of the last episode of Father Ted, while hosting a dinner party at his south-west London home, Morgan had a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital but died soon after in Hounslow, London. In the commentary for the first series, writer Graham Linehan notes that Morgan was not a smoker and was uncomfortable during the smoking scenes, of which there were many.

  Dermot Morgan's Grave in Deansgrange Cemetery, south County Dublin

Morgan said in a Late Late Show interview in 1996 with Gay Byrne that his forthcoming screenplay was to be called Miracle of the Magyars and based on real-life circumstances in the 1950s when the Archbishop of Dublin forbade Catholics from attending a football match between Ireland and Yugoslavia on religious and spiritual grounds. Yugoslavia won the match 4-1. Morgan, however, planned to use Hungary as the opposing side to Ireland, hence the reason for the title.

Frank Kelly said of his acting colleague: "Dermot's mind was mercurial. I think he was a kind of comedic meteor. He burned himself out."

Morgan's Requiem Mass in St. Therese's Church in his native Mount Merrion, South Dublin, was attended by, among others, Her Excellency Professor Mary McAleese, the President of Ireland, and her predecessor, Mary Robinson, and by the leaders of Ireland's church and state, many of whom had been the victims of Morgan's humour in Scrap Saturday. His cremated remains are buried in the family plot in Deansgrange Cemetery, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, south County Dublin.[6]






  1. ^ "Father Ted actor Dermot Morgan has died". ITN Online (archived). http://spiritofgenovia.com/frted/d_morgan/morgan_obit_1.html. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Anthony Hayward (2 March 1998). "Obituary: Dermot Morgan". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/obituary-dermot-morgan-1147951.html. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  3. ^ Dermot Morgan Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 2011
  4. ^ New Island Books, 1998.
  5. ^ Dermot Morgan findagrave.com. Retrieved march 2011
  6. ^ Dermot Morgan Tribute dmtribute.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Retrieved March 2011


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