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The Mainland
Series 3, Episode 4
The Mainland.png
Air date April 3, 1998
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Escape from Victory

The Mainland is the fourth episode of the final series of Father Ted.


On a visit to the mainland, Mrs. Doyle and Father Jack get arrested while Ted and Dougal get lost in a cave.


The episode begins with Dougal finishing watching an episode of One Foot In The Grave, however when Ted asks which episode it was Dougal can't remember; the only thing he knows about the show is that Victor Meldrew's catchphrase is "I don't believe it". Ted informs him that they are travelling to the mainland to collect £200 that Ted won in a bet, and Dougal persuades him to visit some local caves as well.

Meanwhile Jack is also going in order to get some new glasses (due to birds constantly stealing them) while Mrs. Doyle is going for tea with her friend Mrs. Dineen. Upon arriving, Jack and Mrs. Doyle are left alone while Ted and Dougal collect the winnings then visit the caves,

As Ted takes photos outside the cave, Ted spots Richard Wilson standing nearby. After pointing him out to Dougal, Ted suggests that he goes up to him and says the catchphrase thinking that no-one will ever have done that to him before. Dougal agrees and Ted walks up to Wilson before screeching "I don't believe it!" at him. Wilson responds angrily, as he begins beating Ted up in anger (with Dougal taking pictures), having to be dragged off by others.

Meanwhile, Jack gets some new glasses only for them to be immediately stolen again. Fumbling along the street looking for alcohol, Jack accidentally wanders into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, with everyone assuming his screams of "Drink!" to be a cry for help. Later, Jack finally makes it into a pub and buys a bottle of whiskey, only for one of the people at the meeting to try and stop him, earning a trip in an ambulance for his troubles.

During the tour of the caves, Ted learns that the caves are fifteen-million years old and casually says "I don't believe it" only to find he was standing behind Richard Wilson again who resumes his attack. Ted and Dougal flee down another cave and get lost and encounter Father Noel Furlong and his St. Luke's Youth Group who have been trapped for two days. After mangling 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and joking about having to eat a member of his group (driving everyone crazy as usual), Noel decides to have a screeching competition and causes a cave-in, being covered in rocks. The youth group quickly flee to Paraguay, and Ted and Dougal leave Noel when he immediately starts to get annoying again.

In the tearoom, Mrs. Doyle and Mrs. Dineen spend the afternoon gossiping about their friends but get into a violent fight when neither will let the other pay for the drinks.

Ted discovers that Dougal's jumper has been unraveling and intends to follow the thread out, only to pull in the thread instead of following it and screams "I don't believe it", only for the words to echo through the caves making Richard Wilson start to think he's going mad. After spending all night wandering, Ted and Dougal finally get out and go for something to eat only to be informed that Jack, Mrs. Doyle and Mrs. Dineen have all been arrested. Going to the station, Ted is told he needs to pay £200 or leave the three in the cells for the night. Ted tried to leave them, but when Dougal starts to try and attract his attention Ted hands over the £200 and furiously berates Dougal for trying to remind him about the money and embarrassing him. Dougal tells Ted he forgot all about the money and was just trying to tell Ted his fly was open.

Returning to Craggy Island, Ted promises to never return to the Mainland unless its necessary... which, unfortunately, it always is. Meanwhile, Richard Wilson gets lost while bike-riding and coincidentally winds up outside the parochial house. Knocking on the door, Wilson is surprised when Ted answers and finds himself in a situation he literally cannot believe.

After the credits, we see Noel still trapped under the pile of rocks singing 'Fat Bottomed Girls' to himself.

Guest Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast


  • Richard Wilson makes a special guest appearance as himself, with Ted and Dougal recognizing him as "yer man from "One Foot in the Grave". In the episode, every time Ted says, "I don't believe it", Wilson becomes very angry (to the point where he violently attacks Ted). This is a real-life reference to the fact that Wilson really does hate people going up to him and saying his catchphrase from the show and only performs the line for charity events. The situation was conceived when Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews sat behind Wilson at a performance of Le Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall. They considered how "tasteless and wrong" it would be to lean forward to him every time that an acrobat did a stunt and yell the catchphrase, and then they realised that that's exactly what their fictional priests would do. In 2020, the catchphrase was included as part of a set of 'Father Ted' stamps issued by An Post to celebrate the show's 25th anniversary.
  • Art director Bill Crutcher appears in a cameo as the smoking bin man who Ted asks for help, having mistaken him for someone who works at the caves.

Series 3
#301 "Are You Right There, Father Ted? #305 "Escape from Victory"
#302 "Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep" #306 "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse"
#303 "Speed 3" #307 "Night of the Nearly Dead"
#304 "The Mainland" #308 "Going to America"