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Sunday, March 1, 1998 Published at 18:44 GMT


Father Ted star dies
image: [ Dermot Morgan (left) with Father Ted co-stars Frank Kelly, Ardal O'Hanlon and Pauline McLynn ]
Dermot Morgan (left) with Father Ted co-stars Frank Kelly, Ardal O'Hanlon and Pauline McLynn

TV's Father Ted - Irish actor Dermot Morgan - has died at his home in London.

See Leo Enright's report in Real Video
His death, at the age of 45, was revealed by friends in Dublin just five days before the launch of the third Father Ted series on Channel 4.

Morgan's friend Gerry Stembridge: "He was an icon" (1'48")
As loveable rogue Father Ted, Mr Morgan was one of the funniest and best-loved comedy heroes of the 90's.

Mr Morgan lived in London with his partner Fiona and had three sons.

The actor is understood to have collapsed while at his home in Richmond, south-west London, while hosting a dinner party for friends on Saturday night. He died soon afterwards.

A friend of Mr Morgan's, writer Gerry Stembridge, told the BBC that the actor was "much more than an actor or a performer, he really was an icon."

Moving on

The Father Ted series was voted Best Comedy at the Bafta Awards and won Best Sitcom for two years running at the British Comedy Awards.

But just weeks before his death Mr Morgan said that he did not want to continue playing the role of Father Ted for fear of being typecast.

"I don't want to be the next Clive Dunn and end up playing the same character for years."

Mr Morgan had written a new TV drama series that was in the process of being made.

The quick-witted Irishman had spent years before he landed the sitcom role treading the boards as a stand-up comedian. The third series - due to hit the screens on March 6 - is billed as the funniest yet.

But despite finding fame and fortune as the dry-witted priest with the cheeky smile, Mr Morgan had been publicly critical of the church.

He was recently quoted as saying: "I don't believe in confessional, any of it.

"Fascists are people who dress in black and tell you what to do and priests, well, er ..."

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