Father Ted actor Frank Kelly dies aged 77

The veteran actor who played Father Jack in the classic comedy has died

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Frank Kelly, the actor who played Father Jack in sitcom Father Ted, has died.

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The veteran actor passed away aged 77. He revealed last November he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. 

Kelly was one of the key cast in Channel 4’s classic comedy Father Ted created by Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan, about a group of vicars living and preaching on the fictional Craggy Island.

The news of Kelly’s death comes 18 years to the day after his Father Ted co-star Dermot Morgan passed away. Morgan’s son Don paid tribute to Kelly on Twitter.

Kelly’s first screen role was as a prison guard in The Italian Job starring Michael Caine. He became known to Irish audiences thanks to a long-running role on satirical sketch show Hall’s Pictorial Weekly. He also had a brief role on Emmerdale, although he left the cast after just five months of filming.

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But it was his role in Father Ted that earned him a global audience – and multiple Bafta Awards.

In an interview with Irish broadcaster RTÉ last year, he said he was proud of the comedy’s longevity, saying that for all the profanity it was an incredibly “subtle” series to work on.

He also revealed that he treasured a page of the script in his home with the instruction, ‘Caution: It is very dangerous to approach Father Jack.’

“I love that, I’m sure Graham Lineham wrote that,” he said.

Linehan responded to the “terribly sad news” on Twitter.

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Brendan O’Carroll, who worked with Kelly on Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie, also paid tribute to the actor on social media.