'Fr Jack' reaches for the soap
Actor back on small screen with 'Emmerdale'
FATHER Ted actor Frank Kelly is returning to the small screen after landing a year-long contract with ITV soap 'Emmerdale'.
And the 71-year-old, who begins filming with the Leeds-based series next month, said he might consider a long-running role on the programme.
"I'd only know if I wanted to stay after the year's up but it's very well-paid work, and with our economy and the state it's in at the moment, it's very reassuring to be asked to work for a year for really good money," Frank said yesterday.
The entertainer, who survived a battle with bowel cancer two years ago, will play Dermot Macey, the eccentric father of businessman Declan Macey, played by actor Jason Merrells, in the early evening TV soap.
"The man I'm playing is Irish but not overtly 'oirish'. There will be no leprechauns," joked Kelly.
Although restricted in his best known role as Father Jack in Channel 4 comedy 'Father Ted' to a vocabulary that didn't stretch beyond 'drink', 'arse' 'feck' and 'girls', Kelly was widely recognised as the best actor in the comedy.
This reputation was enhanced in 2003 when he played the late British Labour leader John Smith in Stephen Frears' acclaimed film 'The Deal'.
"In England they have been very good to me, offering me things which are completely at odds with Father Jack, like the John Smith role. They can see beyond the mask and long may that continue," said Kelly.
The actor landed this latest role after meeting 'Emmerdale' producers at the TV Now Awards in Dublin earlier this year.
"Gavin Blyth, the series producer, came up to me and said 'we have to have you on Emmerdale'. I must be honest and admit I've never watched soaps previously but I'm taken with 'Emmerdale' knowing that I am going to be in it," he said.
Having suffered a slide in his pension fund, and working mostly on one-off productions in recent years, Kelly said he is glad of the role.
However, the much loved funnyman described the well paid UK acting job as a "compromise" for himself and wife Bairbre of 45 years. "We're devoted to one another and I hate being away from my lovely wife and family. I'm hoping to be back each weekend. But it will give me some insurance against this rocking economy."