Posts Tagged With: father ted

Look to your left (part 37)

In today’s news round up: stars of Doctor Who unite to commemorate the birthday of avant garde playwright Samuel Beckett.

Waiting_Dodo

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron and the Catholic Church both issue joint statements in the wake of the revelations contained in the Panama Papers:

Cameron-Ted

And as preparation continues for J.K. Rowling’s hugely anticipated Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we can bring you this exclusive production photo of the cast on a break during rehearsals.

Lennon

Enjoy your Thursday.

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The Talons of Weng-Jack Chiang: Father Ted Meets Doctor Who

It’s 1995. Channel Four – once subversive and edgy, these days a bloated, shockingly mainstream effigy of its former self – has launched a new sitcom about three Catholic priests living in a shared parochial house on a remote island. One is young and stupid. Another is old and mad (and seemingly in a state of constant intoxication). The titular Ted is middle-aged, secretly ambitious and has the unenviable job of being the straight man to three comic foils (I missed out the housekeeper, but we’ll get to her). Dropping in occasionally are rowing shopkeepers, grumpy bishops, and Graham Norton. It’s a foul-mouthed Last of the Summer Wine, without the scenery.

Fast forward a couple of decades and Father Ted has (at least on this side of the Atlantic) achieved legendary status, but I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that. T-shirts emblazoned with “DRINK! FECK! ARSE!” are all over Ebay. The phrase “Down with this sort of thing” is a surefire way of poking fun at any online argument. And ‘My Lovely Horse’ is the best Eurovision entry that Ireland never had. It’s lovely that the show has endured for so long and become so popular, but it’s hard to express how rebellious it felt back when it was first aired. I loved how it poked fun at the church without ever quite making up its mind about religion and faith (the show, indeed, contains almost as many examples of apparently genuine divine intervention as any mainstream religious novel). I remember the difficulty of trying to explain the small / far away gag to my friends and family, and was gratified to discover some years later that it’s now one of the best-remembered gags in the show. And most of all, I can still remember the unanticipated thrill of that very first episode, not least the moment when I fell off my sofa at the sight of The Spinning Cat.

The great thing about Father Ted was how it combined surrealism with observational comedy. The rumour that Ireland had deliberately toned down the quality of its Eurovision entries in order to avoid the bankruptcy it faced by having to continually hosting the event is explored to great effect in ‘A Song For Europe’. The third series story ‘The Mainland’ pokes fun at fandom, with Richard Wilson gleefully sending himself up and providing, in a way, an early template for Ricky Gervais’ Extras. And I have an old friend who lived next door to an Irish family who, he insisted, were “just like Mrs Doyle. Seriously. You put your head round the door returning a drill and they’re shoving a teacup in your face.”

Lineham and Matthews had already decided to hang up Ted’s cassock for the last time when Dermot Morgan died of a heart attack the very day after he’d filmed the show’s final episode. Said episode included a dance sequence that required multiple retakes and which, according to Tommy Tiernan, might have exacerbated an existing heart condition, but we’ll probably never know. I remember shots of Frank Kelly – who played Jack – on the news, and reflected that it was the first time I’d seen him out of costume. I was struck by his eloquence and gentleness, a world away from the fiery Jack, but the very best actors excel (and frequently revel) in playing complete opposites of themselves.

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Kelly himself died just the other week, at the age of 77, eighteen years to the day after Morgan. My capacity for mourning an actor I never met who lived to a decent old age is, I’m afraid, a little limited, and I won’t line the walls with platitudes about his death being a ‘tragedy’, because it isn’t. Simultaneously, Kelly was a much loved and respected man whose CV, I later learned, ran deeper than I realised, extending to a prominent role in Emmerdale, among other things. And it really was time, I realised, that I got that Father Ted / Doctor Who mashup done.

I’ve dabbled with Mrs Doyle before, of course. If you want to completely destroy a children’s animated series, get one of the main characters swearing. But Jack himself seemed the obvious candidate for some sort of redub. It helps that it’s comparatively virgin territory: the YouTube content for Ted / Who juxtapositions is smaller than you’d think, consisting of a couple of title sequences and some stuff that almost works, along with stuff that doesn’t.

The trickiest part of this, ironically, was deciding on which villain to use. Sutekh was a strong possibility. So, too, was Mestor, the giant slug in ‘The Twin Dilemma’, and about the only thing in it worth watching. Omega was favourite for about ten minutes, until I remembered that I’m actually working on something else for him that I plan to do later in the year. In the end, for various dialogue-related reasons (some of which will become entirely transparent if you’ve watched it) Magnus Greel won out. Remove the dialogue from ‘Weng-Chiang’ and the first thing you notice is what a physical performance it is, with heaps of gesticulation. And he delivers practically every line from behind a mask, which makes dubbing that much easier.

This was fiddly, but a joy to put together. It’s cut almost as tight as I can (get in quick, get out quick seems to be the way I do things these days) which means you can fit more in – I didn’t, as my brother observed, use “every single thing he ever said”, but it was a close run thing. The punch line at the very end will probably confuse you unless you know your Ted, but it just about works. Just about. As for me, I shall, when I get the house straight, sit down with a bottle of whiskey and the box set that adorns our shelves, and raise a glass to the most hot-tempered – but eminently quotable – priest the Church has ever seen.

Anyway. Finish on a song, right?

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The Dark Side of Flop: Bing meets Wolf Hall

IMPORTANT UPDATE: THIS VIDEO IS NO LONGER EMBEDDED.

TO SEE WHY, SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM.

TO SEE IT ON DROPBOX, CLICK HERE.

FOR THE TRANSCRIPT, CLICK HERE.

You know, when I think about it, I’m pretty sure this whole thing started with Mrs Doyle.

I knew about Wolf Hall already, of course, although I’d not seen it. “It’s weird,” they said on the social media pages. “That sinister bloke from that costume drama playing Flop!” Well, yes, but I had no frame of reference. And then there was the day that Bing found the dog in the park, and when her owner arrives to find out where she’s got to, it turns out to be Pauline McLynn.

Father Ted is twenty years old this year, which has led to an abundance of lists – popular quotes, memorable episodes, and a few of those animated GIFs that are so popular on Tumblr. There will be the “small, far away” clip and you can guarantee that at least one person will use the words “Down with this sort of thing” (and that the next comment, in turn, will read “Careful now”). But I know the scene I always think of when I see Pauline McLynn, and it is the one where she swears.

Distressingly, this clip omits Mrs Doyle’s departing remark – but the point is, the moment I heard Pauline voicing Gilly I wanted her to shout “RIDE ME SIDEWAYS, THAT WAS ANOTHER ONE!” at Bing and Flop. And it sort of went from there, really. It went from there primarily because I’m getting a little tired at the constant ‘Find your inner Flop’ mantras that seem to have become a thing. Flop’s a role model in the same way that Jesus was a role model. His approach is totally impractical because he has a limitless supply of patience, of the sort that human beings do not possess. Let’s also not forget that Bing himself, though young, is also an alarmingly obedient child, digesting and dealing with Flop’s advice and reproaches without question, each and every time. Not for Bing the strop in the supermarket or the insistence on having his bed all to himself, even if Pando’s fallen asleep inside it. When Flop tells him ‘no’, he listens, and he listens first time.

And look, here’s the thing – Flop doesn’t have a smartphone.* Perhaps Bing is set in a world thirty years behind ours, or even longer (have there been any stories in which the characters watch, or even want to watch TV? I genuinely don’t remember any). Flop appears to devote twenty-four hours a day to the servitude and care of his charge. Perhaps he’s like Davy Jones in the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, cursed to ferry the Flying Dutchman back and forth to and from the land of the dead, or risk being turned into an octopus. (I am now entertaining the notion of a collectible Flop with detachable Cthulhu-like tentacles. It is an amusing, if disturbing thought.)

But I wonder, sometimes. I wonder what he’s really thinking. Someone, somewhere really needs to produce a blog in which Flop recounts the events of an episode of Bing from his own perspective, in which he whines about the rabbit’s stupidity, perhaps referring to him as ‘The little shit’. I would very much like to do this, had I the time, not to mention the inclination to stop-start view all seventy-six episodes of season one – again – so that I can make dialogue notes.

In the absence of that, this will do. Because it’s time we brought the zen-like sock puppet down off his pedestal. He’s been allowed to embarrass decent, flawed parents for too long. He and the other carers in the show are annoyingly, irritatingly perfect. It’s why it’s a shock when this happens in the iPlayer listings:

Bing

It was a mistake, of course, and I pointed it out, only to have the official Bing Bunny page say something random that completely missed the point. “You’re far too young for a Facebook account, Bing,” I remarked. “Does Flop know?”

Anyway, a few technical notes on that video. The longest component of assembling this one was actually watching Wolf Hall, which I did in the space of three or four days, thoroughly enjoying every minute (except when the rented DVD turned out to be scratched). I’ve written about the majesty of the BBC’s Hilary Mantel adaptation elsewhere, so we won’t dwell on Cromwell and his machinations for today. What struck me going through was how little there actually was, in the grand scheme of things – I’d expected Thomas Cromwell to be darker, somehow, forgetting that the whole point to his characterisation is a sense of enigmatic aloofness, with far more revealed in what he doesn’t say – the space between the notes, as Miles Davis used to riff when he was defining music.

Bernard Hill, on the other hand, was a gift from a multi-denominational God. He swears like a trooper. He had to be Pando; there was nothing else for it. The Duke of Norfolk spends much of his time harrumphing and shouting like a child; he has thus rather fittingly become one. There’s no set narrative to this collection, which is instead loosely grouped according to mood – although you’ll see certain scenes are split to keep the pace up. I purposely didn’t use every sound clip I obtained, realising (as I have of late) that less is more. It’s a lesson I could have done with learning on the Red Dwarf / Doctor Who crossover I did last year – one that’s earned its fair share of negative comments, comments which I fear with increasing certainty may be absolutely right.

But if nothing else, this hopefully throws up a subtext to some of Flop’s oh-so-perfect parenting techniques, as well as demonstrating the versatility of the frankly sensational Mark Rylance. Sadly, Pauline McLynn still doesn’t get to say “Ride me sideways”, but you can’t have everything. Maybe I’ll do a sequel next year when they adapt The Light and the Mirror. Patience. It’s a Bing thing. As for the rest of us, we’re all drumming our fingers.

* Edit: it turns out, as I discovered just this week, that Flop does have a smartphone, although it’s left marginally less intelligent when Bing breaks it. I’m still basically right, anyway.

BLOGGER’S ADDENDUM, 14 JULY

I received an email this morning informing me that the video has been taken offline by YouTube, in response to a legal claim from Aardman. This wasn’t one of those indiscriminate web-crawling automated takedowns that I can contest under fair use; this was a manual request. When I queried, the (truncated) response from Aardman was:

“With kids brands, the general rule of thumb is not to mix pre-school with adult comedy, this is the main reason in this case for removing the video, which we have done on behalf of the Bing team.

The secondary reason is your video is also an infringement of copyright associated with the Bing brand.

FYI – Some production companies are stricter than others with regards to copyright breach, some see it as promotion, others see it as property theft, different strokes for different folks basically.”

Under the circumstances, I won’t be contesting. He has a point, and all the parental advisories in the world (and there are at least two) probably won’t stop kids from clicking through. Ted Dewan’s Twitter approval counts for zip; Aardman hold the copyright, they call the shots.

The three most annoying things about this –

1. My copyright standing has been relegated, at least until January, and I have a strike on my account

2. I had to sit through a tedious and patronising ‘Copyright school’ video; the sort of thing I imagine speeding drivers have to go through

3. I dare not even put this on Vimeo, because they’ll probably do it again.

I have, however, made the video available at Dropbox, if you want to see or download it there. Alternatively, you could have a look at this transcript.

 

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“These are small. The ones in the field are far away.”

It was a Saturday morning. I was feeling creative, but conscious of time.

Mini-Doc

Twenty minutes later, Gareth had done this.

And lest you missed the joke, watch this.

In fact, just watch ‘The Robots of Death’. It’s fantastic. You will be saying “Please do not throw hands at me” for weeks.

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Bigger on the inside

Watch this. Right to the end, and sorry about the ads.

Right. Now watch this.

You see what I mean…

Categories: Classic Who | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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