Ardal has come a long way since starting on tiny stage

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Father Ted star Ardal O’Hanlon says that his character Father Dougal was partly based on a puppy!

The Irish stand-up comedian, who is appearing tonight at Sheffield City Hall as part of the city’s Last Laugh comedy festival running all this month,

He talked about the inspiration for his brilliant creation, the daftest of the trio of priests living on Craggy Island.

He said: “I didn’t think about it too much. I’ve always had the philosophy that less is more. By over-analysing something you could mess it up.

“I used to think of dogs a lot. Dougal has a very canine quality. He’s very loyal, obedient and enthusiastic.

“I thought of dogs that I had growing up. He is a cute puppy.” There was also a human inspiration: “One of the writers was a very intelligent man. He is kind of naiive in some ways. I would bring him into my head. He used to do really gormless double takes.”

Though no-one should go to see Ardal expecting Dougal. He is a witty man who keeps audiences entertained talking “a bit about politics and sport and the puny concerns I’ve been ranting and raving about.

“What other job provides you with a fantastic platform to get all that stuff off your chest?”

Ardal has been a stand-up for 25 years now, starting off in a tiny Dublin comedy club that he helped to set up while at university.

He said: “There was a terrible recession in Ireland at the time, no job prospects whatsoever. It was a dreadful time to be leaving university.

“A lot of the Irish comedians started on this tiny stage. Very few people came to see you. We got better at it.”

He likes coming to Sheffield but does have a dark secret: “I am a Leeds fan and used to go to Leeds a lot. Where I grew up all the kids had to have an English football team.

“I have one friend who is a Sheffield United fan…”

Ardal O’Hanlon is at Sheffield City Hall tonight but the show is sold out.