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Recap / Father Ted S1E4 "Competition Time"

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Wait, don't tell me... you're Cliff Richard, right?

That was the Pope? That old fella living in the art gallery?

With the annual "All Priests Stars in Their Eyes Lookalike Competition" nearing, Ted shows everyone his Elvis costume, only to find Dougal and Jack wearing exactly the same outfit as him. Ted had been talking about dressing as Elvis for weeks, and Dougal concedes that's "probably" where he got the idea; since reasoning with him is nigh on impossible, Ted accepts he will have to go as Mother Teresa again. Father Dick Byrne (from Rugged Island parochial house) calls Ted and tells Ted that he has no chance of winning. But, since the judge of the competition, TV presenter Henry Sellers, is staying on Craggy Island, Ted believes that their chances of winning will improve if they are nice to him.

Before Henry Sellers' arrival, Dougal watches a segment of one of Seller's programs and inquires as to why Sellers supposedly left the BBC. When Ted does not answer, the conversation turns to the competition. Dougal offers to let Ted do Elvis while he does Mother Teresa, as Ted had thought of Elvis first. However, claiming to have been selfish, Ted tells Dougal that he can be Elvis if he wants. Meanwhile, Jack has consumed a bottle of Toilet Duck, causing hallucinations, and this leads to Ted reminding him that he is going to be 'seeing pink elephants again'.


When Henry Sellers arrives, Ted greets him warmly but Dougal is unable to think of anything to say. At Ted's prompting, he asks him his age, which is apparently 37. Jack hallucinates again when Henry speaks to him, and he runs away in fear. Henry is accompanied there by Father Barty Dunne, a priest who laughs at the slightest of things (e.g. Jack losing his slippers), and can't maintain a proper conversation. Henry remarks angrily that the car journey was four hours long. Meanwhile, Dougal suddenly takes an interest in Henry's 'mad hair'.

Ted offers to get Henry anything he wants, and says he means anything, but practically it only means sandwiches. After that, Ted is unable to fulfill any of Henry's requests like getting him an English newspaper, and he even lies about the nature of Rugged Island to keep Henry in the parochial house. Ted and Mrs. Doyle then cajole Henry into taking a drink of sherry before bed. After one drink, Henry consumes more alcohol and becomes angry at everyone, destroying the living room in the process. Father Dunne discloses that Henry is a raging alcoholic who had been "on the wagon" for a year, and that his drinking was the reason the BBC sacked him. Henry then jumps out of the window and runs off into the wilderness.


The next day, Ted, Dougal and the island's policeman attempt to track Henry down. When they find him, he is still in an alcoholic state in the woods, but now with fewer clothes. Ted makes a noise with some pans to drive Henry out into the open, allowing him to be shot with a tranquilizer dart. After Henry has sobered up at the parochial house, Ted assures him that nothing untoward happened (Henry blacked out and forgot the night's events). Dick Byrne calls Ted again, and suggests a bet of, at first £1, then £2, ultimately £5, on the outcome of that night's competition. Father Jack then returns, very drunk; Dougal suggests sobering him up, but Ted says that he has an idea.

That night at the competition, Dick Byrne and his fellow priests, Cyril MacDuff and Jim Johnson (who performed as Diana Ross and two of the Supremes) are in the lead with a judge's score of nine out of ten. Then the Craggy Island priests' entry, narrated by Ted, begins. Dougal represents the young Elvis, who "one day in the 1950s created rock and roll". Ted then appears as Elvis on his 1968 comeback, with Jack representing the later part of his life by sitting, wearing garish clothes and confusedly holding a large hamburger. This effort receives full marks of 10 from Henry, and they win the competition. Back at the parochial house Dick pays up, and then heads off back to Rugged Island with Cyril and Jim. Mrs. Doyle then brings in a bottle of Champagne with four glasses. Henry takes a sip (believing it won't do any harm) and once again goes into a drunken rage and jumps out of the window. Ted exasperatedly says they'll start looking for Henry in the morning, and he and Dougal celebrate their victory by shaking hands and looking proudly at their new but tiny trophy.

Tropes featured in this episode:

  • The Alcoholic: Henry Sellers, which resulted in his losing the job with The BBC that made him famous. Though he would have you believe it's the other way around:
    Henry: Sack me?! Sack me?! I made the BBC!
  • Annoying Laugh: Father Barty Dunne has a laugh that would not be annoying in itself were it not for the fact that he can't get through a single sentence without breaking down laughing, and when he does finally get to the end of a sentence to explain the joke, it's either completely mundane or falls squarely under "You had to be there (and even then you probably wouldn't have laughed)." Four hours of having to listen to this endless, easily-triggered laughter in the car journey to the parochial house has taken its toll on Henry Sellers.
    Ted: How long was the car journey-
    Sellers: Four hours.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Sergeant Deegan; like the British police, Irish Gardaí do not carry firearms. Justified, however, in that what he's holding is actually a tranquilliser gun, and there's nothing to prevent any Garda from carrying those if needed.
  • Big Fun: Father Kieran, a contestant of a previous version of the competition, was this, according to Mrs Doyle. Sadly, his state of being overweight led to him shooting himself.
  • Blatant Lies:
  • Call-Back: Like with Bishop Brennan in the previous episode, Ted convinces Henry to take the drink that Mrs. Doyle is offering him, knowing that she absolutely will not let the matter rest until he has drunk it. Unfortunately, thanks to Henry's alcoholism and the drink on offer being sherry, this time it leads to disaster.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor:
    • Henry Sellers goes on a rampage after drinking sherry.
    Barty: That's why they sacked him from that programme! He's a terrible alcoholic, who had been on the wagon now for a year! Oh, God, Ted!
    Ted: How was I supposed to know?
    • Taken to ridiculous levels, again by Henry, in the final scene; whereas one could have imagined that his initial rampage was the result of him chugging down a whole bottle of sherry, this time all it takes is one glass of champagne to reduce him to the same state.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When testing Jack after the Toilet Duck is consumed, Ted holds out three of his fingers, and asks him how many fingers he is holding. When Jack answers correctly, Ted assumes that the old man is "getting immune to it now". However, when the audience were looking at Ted's fingers from Jack's POV, they saw that the fingers were almost the size of baseball bats instead of being at a normal size. Not only that, but Ted looks somewhat more demonic when Jack is looking at him.
  • Cringe Comedy: The scene where Ted shows off his Elvis costume and sees the other priests wearing the exact same costume. Awkward.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: A meta example, with a dose of meta-Foreshadowing thrown in. At one point in the episode, Ted states that "The day a bit of sherry hurts someone is the day Ireland doesn't win the Eurovision Song Contest". Minutes later, Henry Sellers is shown drunk and disorderly because of sherry. The day after the episode aired, Ireland lost the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in three years. Incidentally, the following year, "A Song for Europe" aired featuring an Expy of the Song Contest. Ireland would win the Eurovision over a month after that, for the seventh and so far final time.
  • The Ditherer: Dougal cannot make up his mind whether to go for heads or tails on a coin toss.
  • Dodgy Toupee: This is what keeps Dougal looking at Henry's head during their first meeting.
  • Elvis Impersonator: Ted, Dougal and Jack all want to do this for the talent show. They end up solving their problem by combining it into one act, with Dougal doing Elvis when he first started out, Ted around the time of his comeback, and Jack during his final years.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: When Dougal is reminded of once meeting the Pope, he brushes it off as unimportant. Ted reminds him that the Pope is God's representative on Earth, to which Dougal replies, "You think he'd be taller."
  • Fake-Hair Drama: Subverted. Dougal very nearly removes Henry's hair, with a cheerful cry of 'It's a wig!', only for Ted to grab him and pull him out of the room before doing so.
  • Feud Episode: One of five episodes about Ted's rivalry with Dick Byrne. Also establishes the Running Gag of the duo placing ridiculously trivial bets on the outcome of their feud — they agree on a bet of 5 punts, which is treated as an insanely risky and over-the-top bet by Ted.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Downplayed. The Garda concludes that a sniper rifle with a tranquilliser dart will take out a drunken Henry, even though most Gardaí do not actually use guns.
  • Here We Go Again!: The ending has Henry go crazy after drinking champagne and leaping out the window; similar to what happened when he drank the sherry earlier in the episode.
  • How Many Fingers?: Done to Jack by Ted after the latter notices the old man has drunken Toilet Duck.
  • The Hyena: Father Dunne.
  • Idiot Ball: Mrs. Doyle offers Henry a sherry without realising he is alcoholic, and Ted encourages him to drink it just to shut her up. Though really, Father Dunne is the one most guilty of this trope, as he evidently didn't even bother to warn Ted about Henry's alcoholism.
  • Ignore the Disability: Henry's 'hair', which keeps diverting Dougal's attention. "It's a wig!"
  • In Vino Veritas: The minute Henry drinks a glass of wine, he goes crazy.
  • Ironic Echo: Twice in the episode, Dick mocks Ted by claiming that he is in with a chance of winning the titular competition this year (or claiming to be talking about how great he is) before going "NOOO!!!" when Ted asks if he means it. This happens a third time after Ted wins the show, only this time the roles are reversed.
  • Jerkass: Dick Byrne, though to far less of an extent than in most of his subsequent appearances; here, he just ribs Ted about how he's supposedly going to beat him in the talent show. Henry also turns into this under the influence of alcohol.
  • Literal-Minded: A coin toss normally involves throwing the coin straight up in the air and catching it. Dougal, though, throws the coin across the room when Ted asks him to toss.
  • Madness Makeover: Henry's relaspe into alcoholism sees him speaking in an aggresive, slured way, become very unkempt and wear his Dodgy Toupee in the most lobsided manner possible. When the priests catch up to him after seeing him jump out the window, he's lost his jacket and his pants, and the rest of his clothes are in very bad shape.
  • Mushroom Samba: Jack suffers from hallunications the minute he drinks from a bottle of toilet cleaner.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Henry Sellers was based on a well-known English TV personality who enjoyed drinking; the writers heard from a friend that they had seen the presenter come home drunk one day and fall into a bush. This gave them the idea of a presenter character who is powerfully affected by alcohol.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The last time Father Dunne was with Ted and company, Father Jack lost his slippers. They found them after a while (but not before he had them looking everywhere for them).
    • Ted also warns Jack that he'll be "seeing the pink elephants again".
  • Not What It Looks Like: Discussed. After finding Dougal and Jack dressed as Elvis (while dressed the same), Ted claims that if Dougal or Jack were allowed to take part like that and happened to be on before Ted, everyone would think Ted copied them instead of the other way round.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Barty never creaks a laugh during Henry's drunken rampage.
  • Off the Wagon: Henry Sellers after drinking alcohol.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Ted reacts this way when he finds the empty bottle of Toilet Duck beside Jack’s chair.
    Ted: Oh no, not Toilet Duck again!
  • One-Shot Character: Henry and Barty.
  • Pink Elephants: Apparently one time when Jack was drunk from Toilet Duck, he saw pink elephants. Here, he sees Ted as having ridiculously large hands, and Henry Sellers as having a scary-looking face and a sinister voice.
  • The Psycho Rangers / Similar Squad: The Rugged Island priests. This is the first episode where we meet them.
  • Seen It All: Sergeant Deegan brushes off Ted apologising for having to help them track down a drunk Henry.
    Sergeant Deegan: I've been through it before. Actors, television presenters, rock stars — they go off the drink and the drugs and come over to places like this. The solitude can get to them.
  • Serious Business: The bet.
  • Shout-Out: "You'll be seeing the pink elephants again."
  • Sniper Rifle: With tranquiliser dart for added non-lethality.
  • Super Window Jump: Henry (twice) and Jack.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Henry is presenting his TV show, he asks one specific contestant a question on the capital of the UK. The other contestant buzzes in, then immediately claims she leaned on the button by accident.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: More like "Throw Father Ted a Trophy". This is the only episodes that shows Ted completely succeeding at his goal without terrible repercussions.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: After being shot at, Henry wakes with no memory of having trashed the priests' living room. Made better by the fact that he wakes up in that very room.