Credit: Lewis Doherty

Pastor Ed: A Northern Irish take on Father Ted

By Caitlin MacDonald

Sean McConville, a film student at the University, has written and directed a parody of Father Ted

Directed by Glasgow film student Sean McConville, Pastor Ed is a modern, fresh parody of the Irish Channel 4 show Father Ted. However, with one major difference; while Father Ted revolved around the life of a group of Catholic Priests on a remote island off the Irish coast, Pastor Ed follows two Protestant ministers in modern day Northern Ireland. McConville cites the original Father Ted as inspiration for the series, with main characters being Orange Order Protestant ministers instead of Roman Catholic priests. Other inspirations for McConville’s writing include sitcoms such as Blackadder and Derry Girls, as well as Northern Irish sketch comedy, such as Shane Todd’s material.

The three-part web series, both written and directed by Belfast native McConville, is a refreshing take on the nearly 30-year-old Father Ted, dealing with current issues such as gay marriage, Irish politics, and racism. The web series revolves around the two main characters, the titular Pastor Ed and his mate Dennis as they navigate Belfast.

It’s safe to say that Pastor Ed is a contemporary take on the Channel 4 show. McConville wanted the web series to challenge the typical format, saying “I wanted to create a parody that bridged the gap between an online comedy sketch and a TV sitcom. Each episode is roughly 10 minutes, meaning it straddles the line between classic sitcoms and the short, sharp comedy found online today.” This is also helped by McConville’s collaboration with Sabrina Bewitched and John Devlin, some of Northern Ireland’s biggest TikTok stars, allowing for further exposure in the modern digital age.

McConville highlighted the biggest challenge when making Pastor Ed- the scale. His previous experience from making comedy films, which has been screened at festivals such as the Lit for Laughs International Comedy Film Festival, was completely different compared to the 30 minutes of Pastor Ed content. “We had multiple locations and many actors and crew to manage.” In addition to this, due to some of the trickier subject matter the series deals with, McConville thought it best to reach to people from different backgrounds to receive feedback on his material, a habit he says he has gotten into regarding his work.

Despite the scale of Pastor Ed, McConville stresses how fun the series was to film. “Getting to act with such amazing actors and such a great team is so entertaining, especially when making a comedy series. I love bouncing ideas off each other and improvising lines and some of the scenes, I feel like you can feel our energy.” He even thinks that his own acting skills have improved after working on Pastor Ed, saying “I always feel surrounding myself with talented people helps me improve.”

McConville says Pastor Ed has taught him a lot about the filmmaking process, particularly with regards to the scale of writing necessary for a series. He says he hopes his experience with Pastor Ed will help with writing more mainstream, with his dream being to write his own network sitcom.

The first episode of Pastor Ed will premiere on 19th November at 12pm GMT, on Sean McConville’s official Youtube channel, where the second and third episodes will also air weekly after.


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