Ted was born sometime around the 1950s in Ireland. His older brother was the favourite in the family and became a doctor, while Ted, the 'idiot' son, was sent to the priesthood.
Not much is known about his childhood. However, he did study theology at the seminary, St. Colm's. He seems to have been bullied by the other priests there, being teased for wetting the bed and being given the nickname Father Fluffybottom due to some downy fluff growing around his posterior. He eventually graduated and entered into the priesthood.
Ted was banished to Craggy Island as punishment from Bishop Brennan for stealing a child's Lourdes money so he could go to Las Vegas. He escaped charges but was still punished by Brennan. Ted always maintains the money was just resting in his account: he was to remain on the island until all the money had been accounted for. In the episode "Are You Right There Father Ted?", he is sent to a parish in Castlelawn, Dublin which suggests the money had been accounted for but, due to irregularities discovered in his expenses, he was then taken back to Craggy Island.
Before being taken to Craggy Island, he was stationed in a Wexford parish.
Life on Craggy Island
When Ted arrived on the island, he met Father Jack Hackett, an elderly, drunken priest, Father Dougal McGuire, an incredibly dim-witted idiot and Mrs. Doyle, the tea-obsessed housekeeper. Ted was always unhappy on the island, surrounded by eccentrics and people he didn't respect.
He has been told that he will only leave the island if all the money that he stole has been accounted for. However, this is unlikely to ever happen. He and Dougal slowly grew towards each other, and, despite their bickering, Ted admitted that he and Dougal were friends. Ted stayed on the island for at least three years, and possibly over nine years. (He says that Paul Stone has been visiting the parochial house every year for the past six years).
Ted is in his late 40s and has silver grey hair. He mostly wears black with his priest's dog collar but sometimes can be seen wearing a grey cardigan as well.
Although never seen, he has some 'downy fluff' growing around his posterior, which causes him great embarrassment and was teased about it whilst at St. Colm's. When asked if he ever shaved it off, Ted said that he couldn't get a razor that reaches far enough.
Ted is a cunning and disingenuous character; he is always willing to help out when trouble arises, but on occasion will also think of a way to get himself or others out of trouble when the times comes. Ted fears Bishop Brennan for reasons unknown; in Flight Into Terror, it's revealed that he has a fear of flying. Ted's family is rarely or hardly referenced though he has mentioned his brother who went on to become a Doctor and was considered the favorite son of the two, while he (Ted) went on to become a priest.
He has a rivalry with Dick Byrne, the Rugged Island Parish Priest. The two, at times, compete against each other. This includes entering Eurosong 1996, the over 75s football match, the giving things up competition. (Dick tricked Ted into giving things up for Lent.) He also speaks of a darts tournament which Dick lost and was told to say Bollocks very loudly in front of Mary Ann Robinson. It's unclear how the feud between Ted and Dick started but Dougal once mentioned a Scrabble fiasco where Father Byrne manages to get all of his words to spell "useless priest, can't say Mass" because of which Ted believes that he must have cheated.
Ted at times will go into a state of panic, usually when something goes awry, and so will think of a plan to get him or others out of trouble. One occasion was in Think Fast Father Ted where he suggests to Dougal they rig a raffle so they can win the prize (a new car that Ted had destroyed whilst trying to get rid of a dent).
In A Christmassy Ted, he is awarded with a Golden Cleric after getting himself, Dougal and some of the other priests out of trouble in a lingerie store. He feels this is where he can stand out and be recognized for his achievements. However, at the end, he learns that he is becoming overly obsessed with awards and resolves himself to become a better priest and, realizing that Dougal deserves the award as much as he does, he decides to share the award with Dougal.
In Flight into Terror, Ted admits that he and Dougal are friends even though Dougal at first doesn't realize who Ted is even referring to. Ted on occasion goes to Dougal for help or suggestions on ideas and though on occasion at first is reluctant he soon realizes these ideas could indeed work. More often than not though he does squabble with Dougal especially when he tries to explain something or tries to correct him on something, Ted also shares a room with Dougal, Ted frequently hangs out with Dougal or gets Dougal to tag along with him. In Speed 3, Ted rescues Dougal from trouble in which Dougal, now a milk man, is on a milk float that has a bomb on it and will detonate if he travels at 4mph.
Although he can be a caring and helpful person he can also become easily annoyed, full of himself and thinking he is on top and superior to everyone else. In Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest whilst spending the night with Dougal and Jack (now believed to be dead) Dougal asks Ted what he'll do with his share of the money Jack left him and Dougal. Ted says he will give it to charity but instead has visions which sees him surrounded by women and lots of money, possibly in Las Vegas. At the end of the episode Ted concludes its only a matter of time before Jack passes, because he isn't a young man, and the money will be of some comfort to them.
In the final episode, "Going to America", Ted persuades the suicidal Father Kevin not to jump off a ledge at the "It's Great Being a Priest! '98" conference. Impressed, an American priest offers Ted a place at his Los Angeles parish. Ted, unable to tell the others that they cannot come with him, is wracked with guilt; he cancels the move at the last minute, then tells them that he has realized he belongs on Craggy Island. Dougal says that they will live together on the island forever, and a montage of clips from all previous episodes is shown before the episode ends.
The episode originally ended by flashing forward a year to the next conference. Ted sees Father Kevin standing on the ledge again; instead of helping, he joins him on the ledge, preparing to jump himself. The scene was cut and replaced with the montage following Morgan's death and poor reaction from audiences. Mathews later noted that the original ending still left Ted's fate ambiguous, and would have suggested the possibility of future episodes Linehan stated, "It's nice to think of them all in the house having adventures, but when you think about it, it's really cruel to Ted. It's just an awful future for him... He's not watching a sitcom, he's living this awful life."
Ted has much respect for the resident islanders. However, on occasion, behind closed doors, he appears to show little respect for them at all. Despite this he is a much respected priest by many on the island.
Abilities and skills
- Leadership Skills: Ted is a natural leader and many people come to him looking for advice and support. He showed his leadership skills when he led a group of seven other priests out of the biggest lingerie store in Ireland without being seen, for which he received a Golden Cleric Award.
- Musical Talent: Ted is capable of playing a guitar, and has an adequate knowledge of musical notes. He has been described as having a beautiful voice, and had mediocre songwriting skill, though on his one attempt he ended up stealing the tune from an existing song.
- Intelligence: Ted is quite clever, and is usually the one who comes up with plans and schemes that work quite well. He is also very persuasive, and usually talks people into doing something.
- Impersonator: Ted, along with Jack and Dougal, have won the All Priests Stars in Their Eyes Lookalike Competition, and is famous for his portrayal as Mother Teresa.
- Ludo Champion: Ted and Dougal are champion ludo players, however, ludo does not acquire much talent or skills.
- Footballer: Ted has been known to play football while he was in St. Colm's, and coached his team to victory in the All Priests 5-a-Side Over 75s' Indoor Football Challenge Match. However, he did cheat to obtain this victory.
Father Dougal McGuire
Ted has always seen himself as superior to Dougal and he finds him annoying and irritating, especially when Dougal makes an idiotic comment. However, Ted does have a certain level of affection for Dougal, as seen when they sleep in the same room every night, and Ted admitted to Dougal that the pair were friends.
Ted also has a certain father-like relationship with Dougal, and was in tears when Dougal became a milkman and had to think for himself.
Ted also acts as a mentor for Dougal, and often corrects him and puts him back on the right track. Occasionally Ted may lose it with Dougal and start shouting and being aggressive towards him. However, this doesn't happen very often and Ted is usually quite patient with Dougal. It is revealed that Ted has little faith in Dougal conducting clerical duties as he mostly messes up badly. Ted once yelled at Mrs Doyle in astonishment for letting Dougal conduct a funeral. His consternation was justified as somehow Dougal caused a huge car accident in the cemetery.
Father Jack Hackett
Ted is shown to dislike Jack, as Jack is often very rude, violent and disrespectful towards him (and everyone else). However, Ted does tend to Jack's needs and cares for him, despite the fact that he is risking injury. However, it seems that Ted wants Jack to die because, when he does, Ted and Dougal will receive half a million pounds each. Ted has always made sure that Jack gets a daily walk, and is usually the only member of the house to care for Jack.
However, Jack has often displayed extreme physical aggression towards Ted, to the extent that Ted sometimes has to wear football protective clothing just to be around him. Ted once managed to teach Jack a few basic sentences ('Yes!' and 'That would be an ecumenical matter') in preparation for a visit for three Bishops. Out of both him and Dougal, Ted is most often subjected to Jack's drunkenly violent behavior. There have also been occasions where Ted himself has displayed some aggression toward Jack, such as telling him to feck off while drunk, tying him up, cheering when he found out that Jack had to be sent to St Clabbert's Hospital for Elderly Priests and even trying to murder him, by putting out many bottles of very harmful floor polish, hoping Jack would drink them and be fatally poisoned so he and Dougal could inherit half a million pounds each from his will. Jack's drunken antics are also a continuing source of problems for Ted.
It is revealed that Ted and Dougal exploit his lack of hygiene to save money for candles as they often make them out of Jack's massive earwax and headwax built-up, much to the disgust of Father Fernandez.
Ted is usually fairly friendly to Mrs. Doyle, although has gotten very annoyed with her, particularly about her persistent nagging. Ted, along with Dougal, usually asks a lot from Mrs. Doyle, and usually doesn't appreciate all the work she does for them.
Mrs. Doyle, however, thinks very highly of Ted, and once said that he is the second-best priest. Ted, however, took offense from this comment, and stormed off in a frenzy.
Bishop Leonard Brennan
Bishop Leonard Brennan is Ted's superior and the one who appointed him at Craggy Island. Ted and Bishop Brennan both have a very difficult relationship, and only ever see each other if absolutely necessary. Ted has always shown the bishop a lot of respect. However, he has blackmailed Brennan in the past with a VHS tape of him, his partner and his son playing at the seaside. Using this tape as evidence, Ted forced Brennan into allowing him, Dougal and Jack to stay on the island, and recant his threat of sending them to an even worse parish in which he tried to send Ted to South America to deal with warring tribes and Dougal to Philippine. Brennan is shown to greatly despise Ted due to him stealing money from a child to gamble in Las Vegas.
Ted had to put his respect for the bishop aside when he was forced to 'kick him up the arse' by Father Dick Byrne, as a forfeit for cheating at a football game. Ted thought up a plan and decided to 'kick him up the arse' and then act as if nothing had happened. This scheme succeeded somewhat. However, the bishop came back and returned Ted the favour by kicking him 'up the arse'. Despite this fact, Brennan did not retaliate by putting him into another worse parish as Ted still could blackmail him again with the video tape.
- Father Fluffybottom, Ted's nickname, is in reference to some 'downy fluff' growing around his posterior.
Behind the scenes
- Ted is portrayed by Dermot Morgan throughout all three series of Father Ted.
- The character of Ted was first thought up by Arthur Mathews, co-writer of Father Ted, who would come out in between songs at gigs performed by the Joshua Trio, a spoof band. However, this version of Ted was very different from the one that appears in the show.
- Dermot Morgan was cast as Ted due to a character he used to play during his stand-up routine, Father Trendy. Because of this, many people believe that Dermot came up with the idea of Ted, when it was really Arthur Mathews.
- Ted is famous for his catchphrase, 'The money was just resting in the account', which he uses whenever questioned about the irregularities in his accounts.
- Dermot Morgan, along with Ardal O'Hanlon, appeared in character to present Comic Relief '97. Pauline McLynn and Frank Kelly make brief appearances as Mrs. Doyle and Father Jack.
- Good Luck, Father Ted
- Entertaining Father Stone
- The Passion of Saint Tibulus
- Competition Time
- Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest'
- Think Fast, Father Ted
- Tentacles of Doom
- Old Grey Whistle Theft
- A Song for Europe
- A Christmassy Ted'
- The Plague
- Rock-a-Hula Ted
- Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading'
- New Jack City
- Flight into Terror
- Are You Right There, Father Ted?
- Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep'
- Speed 3
- The Mainland
- Escape from Victory
- Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse
- Night of the Nearly Dead
- Going to America
- Comic Relief '97'
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