'People still think I'm stupid like Dougal' – Ardal O'Hanlon on Father Ted legacy

Actor Ardal O’Hanlon has revealed how people genuinely think he is as stupid as his hapless Father Ted character.

The comedian, who is currently in the middle of his stand-up tour across Britain and Ireland, said the Craggy Island sitcom is now so ingrained in everyday life that it has been brought up in parliament and court cases.

It’s more than 20 years since the last episode was filmed, but the Monaghan star said yesterday on Good Morning Britain that it is referenced almost daily.

“In parliament, if anyone does anything stupid it’s ‘oh that’s like something out of Father Ted’.

“Last week there was a court case where someone stole money from a charity and again that was referenced by the barrister in court, ‘This is like something out of Father Ted’, that the money was ‘just resting in my account’.

“Any protests you have, there are various banners from Father Ted – ‘careful now’ and ‘down with this sort of thing’ – whether it’s nurses’ strikes or water protests or whatever.

“I think people continue to discover it, very young kids discover it.”

And the actor also noted that people often think he is as dim in real life as Father Dougal.

“They genuinely think I’m stupid,” he said. “Someone actually stopped my wife on the street just a few weeks ago and asked her a genuine enquiry, ‘Is he as stupid in real life?’

“The worst thing is, I was standing right behind her like she was my carer,” he added.

The comedian, whose new stand-up tour is called The Showing Off Must Go On, told how his family didn’t initially warm to the idea of comedy as a career.

“Where I come from showing off is big no-no,” he said.

“I think they would have preferred if I was an armed robber than a stand-up comedian. It’s the worst thing, you’re not supposed to draw attention to yourself at all.

“I genuinely remember my mother, when I was about eight years old, made us some spaghetti bolognese and told us not to tell anyone in case the neighbours thought we were showing off.

“There was the kind of mentality that showing off was a terrible thing, so I’ve always been quite conflicted because I love stand-up but at the same time I think ‘Oh well, that’s showing off, I shouldn’t be doing this’.”

But he added they changed their minds over the years.

“They’re all into it now. They love it really,” he said.

Meanwhile, O’Hanlon is enjoying filming his role as a detective in the BBC series Death In Paradise in Guadeloupe – but admits it’s hard working in the heat.

“It’s very enjoyable but it’s demanding. It’s hot and humid,” he said.

The actor also gave the British morning TV programme an idea of the Irish perspective on Brexit.

“In Ireland, people are obsessed with Brexit because we see it as an existential crisis,” he said.

“We’re very worried about the consequences for the Border, cross-Border trade, security and all those things.

“Our concerns are slightly different from the mainstream British concerns, but it just consumes everyone and every waking moment.”

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