RTE’s Meaning of Life: Ardal O’Hanlon Reveals Dougal’s Character Was Based on a Dog

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“I did an audition for Father Ted and I got it, to my surprise. I wasn’t thinking in terms of a TV career, I wasn’t crazy thinking like that,” Ardal recalls .

The Co. Monaghan comedian recalls emigrating to London and, within six months of living in England’s capital, auditioning for what has since been consistently voted TV’s most popular comedy show. Ireland’s favourite.

“I did an audition for Father Ted and I got it, to my surprise. I wasn’t thinking in terms of a TV career, I wasn’t crazy thinking like that,” Ardal recalls .

“I was given a piece of paper and told to read for the role of Father Dougal McGuire, so I read Father Dougal’s lines. “Playing for real” has always been the thing.

“The idea of ​​comedy was that the dumber it is and the sillier it is, the more seriously you take it.

“Playing the madman, but of course the madman is a big part in television history as he did in literature before that. The madman holds a mirror up to the truth. Again, I don’t think or don’t frame it that way.

He adds: “So of course you look around and think ‘healthy dogs are a good inspiration’. A big inspiration, actually dogs, for the character of Dougal. I really felt I felt that dogs were so optimistic, they’re so rambunctious, they’re so loyal, they’re also kind of silly.

He tells Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s The Meaning Of Life that his wife Melanie, whom he has known since childhood, has been his rock – the couple have three adult children.

“Melanie has been incredibly supportive throughout my life. She was there before I got on stage. Even when I thought ‘oh I’d suck at this.’ I couldn’t live this life without that kind of support.

“There would have been times in my life where I couldn’t really hope and I don’t want to dramatize about that. Certainly, in terms of career and everything, there were no real prospects, so I I was very resigned, very accepting of my fate at various times in my life.

Melanie tells Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s The Meaning Of Life that the initial reaction to the clerical comedy was not good in Ireland. “The critics weren’t very kind at first in Ireland.

“People were a little embarrassed by the way Ireland was portrayed in England, as we always are…I’ve always argued that the show humanized the Church at a time when it was demonized… I think we were doing a service to the Church to some extent. A lot of priests really liked the show,” he says.

Ardal, who is one of six children of Dr Rory O’Hanlon, who was TD and Fianna Fáil minister, says he is still a bit religious. “If I had to put a label on it, I would say that I am a cultural Catholic,” he concedes.

“It is an integral part of the fabric of our society. It obviously shaped me as it did a lot of people in this country in one way or another, probably in a huge way.

“I’m one of those people who much prefers religious people to atheists. I don’t have time for atheism nonsense, I think it’s almost dumber than Catholic nonsense.

“We invented God. I don’t think there’s any question about it. God absolutely exists but only in the imagination, but what’s the deal with that. Why don’t people know it, accept it and continue? God is a very important idea… It’s a very important part of the mythology that we need in our lives.

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