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Friday 19 July 2019

From Bottler to Fr Stack: Five highlights from a 50-year career

Iconic role: Brendan Grace appeared as Fr Fintan Stack in season two of 'Father Ted'
Iconic role: Brendan Grace appeared as Fr Fintan Stack in season two of 'Father Ted'

Aoife Walsh and Evie Kearney

Legendary Dublin comedian and entertainer Brendan Grace had many much-loved characters.

Here are just some of the memorable moments from Grace's 50-year career:

1. Comedy sketch character 'Bottler'

One of Grace's most-loved characters was schoolboy 'Bottler'. A huge hit with audiences, the skit often involved Grace switching roles - alternating between the schoolboy, Bottler, and a schoolteacher.

Bottler gave witty, quick and cheeky answers to questions the teacher asked.

The character was later the focus of a 2013 TV3 animation film, 'Bottler', written by Noel Kelly.

2. His 1975 hit 'The Combine Harvester'

Grace's tongue-in-cheek cover of Melanie and Brand New Key's 'The Combine Harvester' flew straight up the Irish music charts in 1975. The song, which became a number one UK hit for the Wurzels a year later, was one of many fan-favourite songs from the comedian. His other hits included 'The Dutchman' (1978), and 1994 hit 'Ring of Fire (Curry Version)'.

3. His performance as Fr Fintan Stack in 'Father Ted'

Grace appeared as Fr Fintan Stack in season two of 'Father Ted'. Speaking to RTÉ about the role, Grace admitted he wasn't a big fan of the sitcom before making his debut, but decided to audition for a part.

"Some very well known actors also went along but mine was picked up because of the way I portrayed him.

"I put a different spin on Fr Stack, making him more passive-aggressive and that's what the writers wanted."

4. His role in 'Moondance' and 'Killinaskully'

Fans will remember Grace's role as Murphy in 'Moondance' (1994), and his later role as Big Sean in 'Killinaskully', where he appeared alongside co-stars Pat Shortt and Joe Rooney.

5. 'Free A Nipper'

It was a phenomenon that swept across every household in Ireland.

In 1985, thousands of soft toys were given away with Maxol's iconic 'Free A Nipper' campaign.

A Nipper was a rabbit-like, squeaking glove puppet that could be 'freed' by collecting stamps in-store. Grace starred as Bottler in the ads to encourage audiences to free their own Nipper, just like his da had done for him.

"I remember kids used to drive their mothers mental looking for these Nipper toys," Grace remembered. According to him, the ads boosted Maxol's business in Ireland by 1,100pc.

Irish Independent

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