UK News Electronic Telegraph
Monday 2 March 1998
Issue 1011

Father Ted star Dermot Morgan dies
By Jane MacMillan

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Cult comedian who angered the church

DERMOT Morgan, who played the eccentric Irish priest Father Ted in the Channel 4 comedy, has died of a suspected heart attack after collapsing at a dinner party at his home. He was 45.

The actor was taken to hospital late on Saturday night from his home in Richmond, south-west London. He died shortly after midnight.

Morgan had just finished filming the third and last series of Father Ted, which is scheduled to start on Friday. A Channel 4 spokesman said the actor's relatives would be consulted before it was decided whether to transmit the programme.

Staff at the West Middlesex Hospital in Isleworth told yesterday how they tried to save the actor's life. A spokesman said: "Attempts were made to resuscitate him in the ambulance and on arrival at the hospital. Sadly he did not respond to treatment."

Morgan lived with his long-term girlfriend, Fiona, and their four-year-old son, Ben. He also had two adult sons from his first marriage.

Born in Dublin, he was a schoolteacher and stand-up comedian before landing the part of Father Ted. The sit-com, about three eccentric priests living on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, achieved cult status when it was first televised in 1995 and won a BAFTA award for Best Comedy.

It also brought Morgan personal success with a Top TV Comedy Actor award at the British Comedy Awards in 1996. But despite this, he made it clear in interviews last week that he was glad not to be doing another series because of the fear of being type-cast.

Father Ted, made by Hat Trick Productions, attracted nearly five million viewers and was Channel 4's most popular British comedy.

Arthur Matthews, who wrote the scripts with Graham Linehan, described the actor's death as "shocking and tragic". He said: "Dermot was very funny and very talented. It was not that easy a role and I cannot imagine anyone else having done it. He really made it his own."

Frank Kelly, the actor who plays the drunken Father Jack, said: "Dermot's mind was mercurial. I think he was a kind of comedic meteor. He burned himself out."

Bertie Ahern, the Irish premier, was "shocked and saddened" to hear of the actor's death. He said: "He was one of the greatest entertainers ever produced by his country."

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