Father Ted co-creator Graham Linehan recently appeared on Jarlath Regan's An Irishman Abroad podcast and gave some tantalising updates on the upcoming plans to bring Ted and co. to the stage.
Linehan, who recently got the all clear after revealing that he had testicular cancer, disclosed to Regan that Father Ted The Musical will be cast from Irish actors. The writer of Black Books told Regan that he "might have to use English people from time to time and there are a few Italian characters. It is set in the Vatican, but we're going to be casting from Irish people."
Linehan also divulged that the musical is coming along so well that casting could start "really really quickly."
Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy is working with Linehan and Mathews with regards to producing the music for the musical. Hannon has worked with the pair on numerous occasions, writing the theme songs for both Father Ted and the IT Crowd.
Paul Woodful, who co-wrote I, Keano, is also involved in the project, Linehan telling Regan that the comedian had written a song for the musical.
One of the key incidents that led Linehan to believe that a return to Father Ted would be interesting was the election of Donald Trump as US president:
When Trump won, I thought that maybe Ted could be Pope and Corbyn was the same. For me, Corbyn doesn't have much charisma but the idea that he can get up there is interesting to me. Maybe people will be able to suspend their beliefs and accept that Ted could rise through the ranks. It's a time when unlikely people are rising into positions of power but I've already created the steps for Ted to become Pope- first he has to become bishop, then cardinal and then Pope.
The second thing was that there's an element in the story that I knew would happen, I can't tell you what it is, but when I realised that, I knew that we had something. So, I immediately wrote it all up, pitched it to Hat-Trick and then I pitched it to Arthur over lunch and he went for it. He realised very quickly how much fun it could be.
Regan pressed Linehan on how he can possibly recreate Ted without the likes of Dermot Morgan and Frank Kelly, and the 50-year-old explained that on of the reasons for doing the project is that he was sick of amateur groups attempts to recreate the characters:
I often get asked by amateur groups to put on episodes of Father Ted and I find that people tend to think they can do an Irish accent - and it's an impression of Dermot or it's an impression of Dougal. I hate that and I always say no. Something bugs me about that.
So I thought, well I'll write something that all these groups will be able to perform, wherever they are. And at the same time, I'll show them through our casting that you once you get the spirit of the character - you can take a few liberties elsewhere. You know, Dougal will be this vacant innocent child of God...but he won't be Ardal. You know, Ardal did that beautifully and no one could ever beat the Dougal that he did. The same for Dermot. We might probably give Ted a shock of white hair like Dermot but I don't want an impression.
I want to allow the actor to be to find the Ted that they want to play.
Linehan also explained how he sold the idea to Dermot Morgan's son, who was worried that a new Ted would eclipse Morgan's portrayal of Ted:
A million Teds will arise from this, and Dermot will be the father of them all.
Finally, unlike the final episode of Father Ted, Linehan let slip that Father Ted: The Musical will have a happy ending and that everyone will get what they want. Hopefully the audience will too.
You can listen to Linehan's entire interview with Regan below: