BRENDAN GRACE was a unique talent.
A singer first-and-foremost, the Dubliner’s storytelling ability and eye for a humorous character made him a household name in Ireland.
But if there is one role that highlighted Brendan’s incredible ability to wring laughs out of almost any material, it was that of Father Fintan Stack in Father Ted.
Appearing in just one episode of the Graham Linehan priest-led sitcom, it’s no surprise that New Jack City is regarded as one of the best from the show’s entire three-series run.
So much of that was down to Brendan, who took a character who could have been dark and sinister in the wrong hands and made him dark, sinister and downright hilarious.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie a few years back, the Irish funnyman lifted the lid on the casting process behind the role of, as he puts it, “the only priest to scare the shit out of Father Jack”.
According to Brendan, when he first came in to read the role for the team behind Father Ted, he was greeted by a room full of notable actors reading for the role.
As Grace recalled it at the time, the majority were “shouting and roaring” as they auditioned for the role of the obnoxious priest – but he decided to do something different.
“I just recalled a teacher I had in the Christian Brothers in James’s Street, 50 years ago, and I put his voice on,” Grace told TheJournal.ie.
“He was a sly, slithery… He was the kind of brother who would tell you before he hit you that he was going to hit you.”
Lissa Evans, who served as a director and producer on Father Ted, recalled Brendan’s audition as nothing short of “instant perfection”.
“We must have auditioned 50 people - it was hard to portray a 'nasty' priest in a house that already contained Jack,” she recalled.
“Brendan strolled in, sat down and smiled, chillingly, throughout the scene.”
One of the most enduring parts of the show, Brendan would later recall how fans still stopped him in the street with amusing requests related to his brief appearance on the show.
“It’s mostly 15 to 20-year-old boys, for some reason – fellas who are really taken in by Fr Stack. They ask me to leave messages calling their ma or da a ‘dirty fecker’ – that kind of thing.”
And, were it not for the tragic passing of Dermot Morgan just after the third series finished, Father Stack may have made a return, “simply because he out-obnoxified Father Jack”.
Even so, Brendan never had any regrets about taking the role and the legacy it left him with.
“My feeling on it is that it was a tremendous experience,” he said a few years back.
“It took a week in London to do it – but it’s ageless, Father Ted. It’s so bizarre that it will last for a long time.”
Bizarre as it may be, it’s another reminder of the comedic magic Brendan brought to the stage and screen and will serve as the perfect testimony to his one-off talent. R.I.P.