Father Jack Hackett fecks off!

Posted by The Skibbereen Eagle | February 28, 2016 0

FECK! Father Jack Hackett is no more! The next Papal Election is more uncertain than ever!

Actor Frank Kelly, who played Fr Jack, has passed away at the age of 77. The news comes on the 18th anniversary of the death of his Fr Ted co-star Dermot Morgan. The veteran of stage and screen was also well-known for his parts on Emmerdale and Halls Pictorial Weekly, but his iconic role in the sitcom in the mid 90s brought him to a huge audience.

He was one of Ireland’s most recognised faces on TV. His first role, uncredited, was as a prison officer in The Italian Job (1969). He spent a five-month stint on Emmerdale, and two years on the RTÉ soap Glenroe. But it was as the rude, drunken and offensive Father Jack Hackett that made him popular – particularly his catchphrase: “Feck”. frank kelly frankkellynextgig


Frank Kelly as Labour Leader John Smith in the Blair/Brown film The Deal.

The cause of his death has not yet been confirmed. The 77-year-old revealed last year that he had been suffering frankkelly2from Parkinson’s Disease. The diagnosis came after he was hospitalised earlier in the year with heart failure.

At the time, he said: “It was my first diagnosis but I’m quietly confident that I have had this for years and years.” He vowed to continue working and late last year released his memoir ‘The Next Gig.’ Kelly was previously diagnosed with bowel cancer, but received the all clear in 2011 after a five year battle with the disease. kellycrokerfr jackFather_Jack

frankkelly3He is survived by Bairbre, his wife of 51 years, and also leaves behind 7 children and 17 grandchildren. He was the son of the cartoonist Charles E. Kelly.

Proudly daft in its portrayal of three priests and their tea lady in exile on remote and often surreal Craggy Island, Ted somehow managed to be more truthful about Ireland than any documentary could be. The strange thing was, the British got it too. A Friday night sitcom had helped the neighbours truly understand, at long last, that they were not so different. Craggy Island Parochial House was a dysfunctional family – with Ted the constantly thwarted dad, Dougal the empty-headed son and Father Jack Hackett the sozzled grandfather – then the mother figure was clearly Mrs Doyle, a martyr to her tea tray and based on Linehan’s own mother. With Father Jack played by Frank Kelly – an erudite and actorly man displaying masterful restraint by sitting silently in the corner and shouting “Drink! Feck! Girls!” on cue – to complete the family unit, Craggy Island also began to function as a microcosm of Ireland.

Father Ted was the brainchild of Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews who got together at Hot Press Magazine in Dublin where the diverted themselves with writing (and sometimes performing) comic scripts such as their U2 spoof “The Joshua Trio.” I’d bump into them for when Hot Press was put to press its editor Niall Stokes used to bring the team for a meal and drinks at the Nomad Restaurant run by our mutual friend Bill McNair literally under the Irish Times office in Dolier Street, Dublin.

father ted

father-ted-careful-nowManic and inspired as Graham and Arthur’s scripts were they were brought to life by four wonderful character actors who shared in the madness, Dermot Morgan as Father Ted Crilly, Ardal O’Hanlon as the hapless Fr. Dougal McGuire, Pauline McLynn as Mrs. Doyle and last, but far from least, Frank Kelly as Fr. Jack Hackett who mainly had four words in the script “Feck”,”Drink”,”Women”, “Arse” with the occasional “Gobshite!” thrown in for variety.

Frank Kelly was a marvellous and accomplished character actor and the sad news of his death comes on the 18th anniversary of the death of his Fr Ted co-star Dermot Morgan from a heart attack at the age of 45. Now are we sure he didn’t drink too much floor polish again?

Frank Kelly (Francis O’Kelly) 28 December 1938 – 28 February 2016) Irish actor, singer and writer, whose career covered television, radio, theatre, music, screenwriting and film.

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