Did RTE Turn Down Father Ted Because They Had a Similar Show on the Air?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: RTE turned down Father Ted because of a similar show already airing on RTE.

Father Ted was an extremely popular British show (starring comedian Dermot Morgan) that aired on Channel 4 from 1995 until 1998. It told the story of an eccentric trio of Irish priests who lived on a remote island off the coast of Ireland in an archaic house along with their equally eccentric housekeeper, Mrs. Doyle.

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The show is interesting in that it is set in Ireland and is extremely popular in Ireland (for its more or less faithful adaptation of Irish mannerisms), and yet the show aired on a British television station instead of Radio Telefís Éireann (RTE), the Irish National Television station.

As I have mentioned in the past a few times, when there is an absence of a plain explanation, people will often fill in the blanks with their own explanations, and in this case, the story goes that RTE turned DOWN airing Father Ted, because they already had a fairly popular television program during the 1980s that was about a housekeeper and a group of priests.

It was called “Leave it to Mrs. O’Brien,” and it starred the late Anna Manahan as a wacky housekeeper for two priests in Ireland.

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So is that why RTE did not pick up the show?


While that certainly is believable, it is not the case.

The show creators, Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan, never pitched the show to RTE. They had already been working in British television before Father Ted, and that’s where they wanted to go with their new project, which, on top of being what they said happened, also makes a whole lot of sense, doesn’t it? You would prefer to pitch to a larger market than a smaller one if given the chance, right?

The legend is…

STATUS: False

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