|A Song for Europe|
|Series 2, Episode 5|
|Air date||April 5, 1996|
Old Grey Whistle Theft
Father Ted and Dougal enter their song, "My Lovely Horse", into the Eurosong 96 contest.
The episode begins with Ted humming to himself and Mrs. Doyle asking him to sing something else, which unimpresses her. Dougal has "Eurosong fever", months ahead of the competition. Initially rejecting Dougal's suggestion that they write a song to represent Ireland in the competition on the grounds that they are not skilled in songwriting, Ted discovers his nemesis Dick Byrne does have plans to enter a song. Ted decides that if Dick Byrne can write a song, he and Dougal can write a better one. After working all night, they come up with "My Lovely Horse", a tuneless dirge with ridiculous lyrics lasting less than a minute.
After trying the song out on Mrs Doyle and Father Jack, the latter is so infuriated he actually shoots Ted's guitar. Disillusioned, they are about to give up when Ted discovers the lyrics fit a tune by "Nin Huguen and the Huguenotes", an obscure B-side for an entry from Norway's Eurosong selection from the 1970s, which Dougal has on vinyl. Ted thinks that because the whole band along with everyone involved in the recording of the song died in a plane crash they can get away with it.
At the Dublin theatre where "A Song for Ireland" is being hosted, Ted has some trouble talking to the judge as he finds he is gay, which the Catholic Church is against. Ted and Dougal listen to Dick Byrne's entry, "The Miracle Is Mine", with Ted mocking it before it kicks in with a full backing choir. A worried Ted goes backstage for a smoke, where he hears the Norwegian tune first being whistled by a maintenance worker, then playing in a lift. He is horrified, realising that the song is well-known, and he and Dougal are forced to adopt "Plan B": singing the dreadful original version. Ted even says near the end when changing chord for the only time during the song, "Hang on, I can do this bit", while Dougal uses what looks like an old Casio keyboard.
Despite their poor performance, and against the evident wishes of the audience, Irish Eurosong boss Charles Hedges awards "My Lovely Horse" first place. This is apparently because he wants to guarantee Ireland lose the main competition, since Ireland has won the contest every year from 1991 to 1995 and it is too expensive for Ireland to host the competition every year. The episode closes at the Eurosong contest, with Ted, Dougal, Jack and Mrs. Doyle listening to every country awarding them "nul points".
Eurosong '96 Entries
|The Miracle Is Mine||Fr. Dick Byrne & Fr. Cyril MacDuff|
|My Lovely Horse||Fr. Ted Crilly & Fr. Dougal McGuire|
|If I Could Wear My Hat Like My Heart||The Grand Girls|
|You Dirty English Bastards||The Hairy Bowsies|
|The Drums Of Africa Are Calling Me Home||Sean O'Brien|
|Sha La La La La La La La La La La La La||Death Pigs|
- Neil Hannon, who wrote the title music for the show, wrote the music for "My Lovely Horse" and co-wrote the lyrics with Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan. The band name "Nin Hugen & The Hugen Notes" is a clumsy pun on "Hugenots".
- According to the writer's commentary, the video for "My Lovely Horse" was based on a 1975 lifestyle video for "That's What Friends are For" by The Swarbriggs, Ireland's entry for the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest, which they consider the funniest music video of all time. Some of the shots are even copied down to every last detail. The video can be viewed here.
- It has been widely claimed that this episode was inspired by real events surrounding the country's selection of its entry for the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. Faced with the daunting (and financially crippling) task of hosting its third consecutive Eurovision, RTÉ were said to have chosen an inferior quality song (Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan's "Rock 'n' Roll Kids") over vastly superior ones in order to prevent the possibility of an unwanted victory. The ploy was unsuccessful as the song became the highest scoring winning entry in Eurovision history up to that point. The men were also the oldest competitors chosen to represent the country.
- A month after this episode was first broadcast, the country won the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest held in Oslo, Norway to secure its fourth victory in five years and a record-breaking seventh overall. Coincidentally, the contest that year was branded as "Euro Song 96".
- The episode has proven so popular that it continues to air every year in Ireland on Eurovision night.
- Dermot Morgan as Ted Crilly
- Ardal O'Hanlon as Dougal McGuire
- Frank Kelly as Jack Hackett
- Pauline McLynn as Mrs. Doyle
- Maurice O'Donoghue as Dick Byrne
- Don Wycherley as Cyril MacDuff
- Peter Caffrey as Charles Hedges
- Jon Kenny as Fred Rickwood
- The scene in which Ted loses his temper at Dougal's failure to play the correct note is a reference to "The Troggs Tapes", a notorious out-take from a recording session by The Troggs. In the Father Ted script book, Graham Linehan notes that he initially wanted the scene to run longer, but that it was ultimately cut down to just long enough for people familiar with the out-take to get the reference.
- Ted mentions that there was a priest named Father Benny Cake who scored a Number 1 hit single in England - after changing his name so nobody would know he was a priest - with a song titled "Vienna". This joke references Midge Ure of the band Ultravox and the joke is ironic as the song was infamously kept off the UK #1 spot by Joe Dolce's "Shaddap You Face".
- Ted mentions Icy-Tea and Scoopy Scoopy Dog Dog, a reference to US rappers Ice-T and Snoop Doggy Dogg.
- Jack does not have a single line in this episode, though he does have a memorable moment when he reacts to the initial performance of "My Lovely Horse" by blasting Ted's guitar to pieces with a sawn-off shotgun.
- Steve Coogan was intended to play compère Fred Rickwood, but couldn't make it so Irish comic Jon Kenny stepped in. Kenny had appeared on the show previously as Michael the cinema owner in "The Passion of Saint Tibulus".
- Declan Lowney, who directed most of the Father Ted episodes, was also director of the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest, which took place in Dublin.
Due to the episode's enduring popularity it is always aired before the Eurovision Song Contest semi finals on RTE every year.