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Bless Me Father

an Episode Guide
by Russell Wodell

Last updated:
Sat, 14 May 2005 02:00

Cast Photo
aired from: Sep 1978 to: Sep 1981 21 eps LWT 30 min mono ______________

regulars:

  • Arthur Lowe as Father Charles Duddleswell
  • Daniel Abineri as Father Neil Boyd, his new curate (based on Peter de Rosa)
  • Gabrielle Daye as Mrs. Pring, their housekeeper

    recurring characters:

  • David Ryall as Billy Buzzle, the bookie next-door neighbour
  • Patrick McAlinney as Dr. Daley, Fr. Duddleswell's alcoholic oldest friend
  • Sheila Keith as Mother Stephen, Fr. Duddleswell's nemesis
  • Derek Francis as Bishop O'Reilly
  • Geoffrey Drew as Mr. Pinkerton, the Anglican curate, Fr. Duddleswell's secondary nemesis

    production credits:

  • Peter de Rosa, writer
  • David Askey, director

    Produced by London Weekend Television, this series was written by Peter de Rosa and is based upon his autobiographical novels written as "Neil Boyd". The series is an engagingly idiosyncratic situation comedy based on the post-war experiences of a young priest sent to the parish of St. Jude's in the London suburb of Fairwater in 1950. Although it is not necessary to understand the sociological underpinnings to enjoy the comedy, the series gains extra bite from the relatively embattled situation of the parishioners as (mainly Irish) Catholics in a firmly Protestant Britain just recovering from the war and still smarting under Government rationing and other restrictions. (It should also be noted that St. Jude is the Catholic patron saint of lost causes...) Period detail is understated but convincing, particularly the hideous clothes worn by the pious women.

    The core of the series is naive and rather shy, Father Boyd's education at the hands of Father Duddleswell, an experienced parish priest whose staunch faith occasionally seems dangerously old-fashioned to Father Boyd but is usually revealed to be tempered by shrewd common sense and genuine goodness. Veteran character actor Arthur Lowe is quite magnificent in the role, conveying Father Duddleswell's limitations as well as his strengths, and making the growing affectionate bond between the two priests convincing and subtly moving. It is Father Duddleswell's nemesis Mother Stephen (head of the local convent) and Bishop Reilly who embody the hidebound and sometimes cruel aspects of the Church hierarchy. (It should be noted that novelist de Rosa is a formerpriest himself.) Daniel Abineri is convincingly earnest and gauche as the newly ordained curate embarrassed by his own good looks and appeal for the female members of the congregation. (So far as I know this is the only series Abineri appeared in.)

    Sharp-tongued housekeeper Mrs. Pring has a love-hate 40-year relationship with Father Duddleswell which produces some delightful insult matches, as does his conflict with next-door neighbour Billy Buzzle, a Cockney bookie and black-marketeer. Most of the Irish ethnic comedy is embodied in Doctor Daley, usually seen downing a whiskey with a fag end still in his mouth while reminiscing about the Connemarra childhood he shared with his oldest friend.


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      1st Series 1978

    1. "Baptism of Fire"
      gs: Kevin Collins [ Jeremy ], Susan Sheridan [ Child at Confession ]

      Father Duddleswell welcomes his new curate, the recently ordained Father Neil, with a teasing baptism of fire, which opens the young priest's eyes to the complex nature of his parish duties and responsibilities.

      b: 24 Sep 78
    2. "The Bells of St. Jude's"
      gs: Derek Francis [ Bishop O'Reilly ], Oliver Maguire [ Monsignor ]

      rc: Bishop O'Reilly, Billy Buzzle, Dr. Daley

      Father Duddleswell plans to install a new church bell.

      b: 1 Oct 78
    3. "The Parish Bazaar"
      gs: James Duggan [ Tim Fogerty ], Ann Wrigg [ Sarah Sneezum ], David Cross [ George Lloyd ], Nora Connolly [ Maureen ], Neil Hayden [ LIttle Boy ]

      rc: Dr. Daley, Billy Buzzle

      Father Duddleswell refuses to make bad-weather plans for the annual bazaar.

      b: 8 Oct 78
    4. "The Doomsday Chair"
      gs: Peter Bowles [ Fred Bowlby ]

      Father Duddleswell decides to disprove the curse of a doomsday chair.

      b: 15 Oct 78
    5. "Father & Mother"
      gs: Clive Swift [ Fred Dobie ], Timothy Kightley [ Auctioneer ]

      rc: Bishop O'Reilly, Dr. Daley

      Father Duddleswell accidentally damages the hideous portrait of the founder of the local convent, uncovering a concealed French masterpiece.

      b: 22 Oct 78
    6. "The Tennis Match"
      gs:

      rc: Mr. Pinkerton

      Father Duddleswell enters a tennis match against the Anglican clergy.

      b: 29 Oct 78
    7. "The Seal of Confession"
      gs: Patrick Newell [ Bottleford ], Dorothy Fiere [ Miss Flanagan ], Pamela Ruddock [ Mrs. Rollings ], Jeffrey Segal [ Conroy ], Primi Townsend [ Nellie ], Elizabeth Morgan [ Mrs. Conroy ]

      rc: Doctor Daley

      Father Neil tries to modernize with a P.A. system and soundproof confessionals.

      b: 5 Nov 78

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      2nd Series 1979

    8. "Blessings from Heaven"
      gs: Shay Graham [ Canon Mahoney ], Rosie Collins [ Young Lady ]

      rc: Dr. Daley, Mother Stephen, Billy Buzzle

      Synopsis needed

      b: 11 Nov 79
    9. "Father Neil's First Miracle"
      gs:

      rc:

      Synopsis needed.

      b: 18 Nov 79
    10. "Fatal Lady"
      gs: Unknown [ Miss Davenport ]

      rc:

      Father Neil receives embarrassing attentions from Miss Davenport, which he must tolerate because she is a generous benefactor of the Parish.

      b: 25 Nov 79
    11. "The Heart of a Curate"
      gs:

      A beautiful nurse helps Neil recover from an appendectomy.

      b: 9 Dec 79
    12. "All at Sea"
      gs: John Bryons [ Captain Kent ], Geoffrey Drew [ Pinkerton ], Geoffrey Palmer [ Freddie Williams ], Andrew Downie [ Skipper ]

      rc: Dr. Daley

      Father Duddleswell tries to arrange a burial at sea.

      b: 16 Dec 79
    13. "The Season of Goodwill"
      gs: Charles Lamb [ Mr. Wilkins ]

      rc: Billy Buzzle, Dr. Daley

      Even at Christmas, Father Duddleswell can't keep out of trouble.

      b: 23 Dec 79
    14. "A Back to Front Wedding"
      gs: Charles Pemberton [ Cinema Manager ], Penny Ryder [ Cashier ], Derek Hollis [ Best Man ], Alan Cheeseman [ Richard Faber ], Rowena Roberts [ Wanda French ], Anne Robson [ Mrs. Faber ], Ruth Holden [ Mrs. French ], Polly Miller [ Maid ]

      rc: Dr. Daley

      Exhausted from performing several marriages, Father Duddleswell takes Father Boyd to the pictures as a treat -- where they are paged to return to the parish to perform one more forgotten wedding. After placating the angry families and seeing the young couple off on their honeymoon, Father Duddleswell realizes that he performed the ceremony after 6 pm, and therefore the bridge and groom are not legally married.

      b: 6 Jan 80

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      3rd Series 1981

    15. "Things Are Not What They Seem"
      gs: Michael Troughton [ Unknown ], Diana Weston [ Unknown ]

      Father Neil offers advice to a woman with marital problems and thereby provides a field day for gossips.

      b: 5 Jul 81
    16. "Women"
      gs: Carolyn Pickles [ Mrs. Rollings ], David Ryall [ Unknown ]

      rc:

      Synopsis needed.

      b: 12 Jul 81
    17. "Beddings and Weddings"
      gs:

      rc:

      Synopsis needed.

      b: 19 Jul 81
    18. "Fire & Brimstone"
      gs: Pamela Ruddock [ Mrs. Rollings ], Caroline Goodman [ Mrs. Hughes ], Mark Burdis [ Child in Church ], Natalie Collins [ Child in Church ], Joseph Daniels [ Child in Church ], Sam Davies [ Child in Church ], David Doyle [ Child in Church ], Anna Hayes [ Child in Church ], Mark Luxford [ Child in Church ], Mark Manero [ Child in Church ], Digon Murray [ Child in Church ], Melissa Wilks [ Child in Church ], Ernest Jennings [ Mr. Bingley ], Linda Renwick [ Mrs. Baxter ], Gerald Cross [ Mr. Probble ], Geoffrey Drew [ Mr. Pinkerton ]

      rc: Billy Buzzle, Mother Stephen

      A family deals with an irreverent grandfather.

      b: 26 Jul 81
    19. "A Legend Comes to Stay"
      gs: Peter Copley [ Father Abe ], Mischa de la Motte [ Lord Mitchin ], David Purcell [ Fireman ]

      rc: Mother Stephen, Billy Buzzle, Dr. Daley

      When he was young, Father Duddleswell was curate to a legendary eccentric. Now, 40 years late, the old man has come to stay just when Father Duddleswell is incapacitated with lumbago, and manages to turn the parish upside down -- including locking Fr. Neil in the church with Mother Stephen.

      b: 2 Aug 81
    20. "Porgy & Bess"
      gs: Dave Calderhead [ Greg Summers ], Vyvian Hall [ Mr. Tippett ], Arnold Peters [ Judge Turnbull ], David Beale [ Mr. Flack ], Lennard Pearce [ Clerk of the Court ], Richard Syms [ Mr. Banks ]

      rc: Billy Buzzle, Dr. Daley

      When Billy Buzzle sets up a pig-sty in his back yard to accommodate Porgy and Bess, two pigs he has received from a defaulting better, the resultant stench proves too much for Father Duddleswell, who desperately resorts to pig-napping, stealing Porgy by dead of night and taking him to a nearby farm. When Porgy subsequently dies, Billy takes Fr. Duddleswell to court, but the judge, while berating Fr. Duddleswell for his transparently dishonest testimony, rules in his favour. Then Bess appears to be succumbing to the same sickness, but Dr. Daley reassures everyone that she is only in labour...

      b: 9 Aug 81
      "A Mixed-Up Marriage"
      gs: Cyril Shaps [ Rabbi Emmanuel Rosen ], Benny Lee [ Mr. Goldman ], Julia Chambers [ Christine Hammond ], Gary Brown [ Isaac Rosen ]

      rc: Mother Stephen, Mr. Pinkerton

      Mother Stephen demands an audience with Fr. Duddleswell over a serious problem: Christine Hammond, a war orphan brought up in the convent, has fallen in love with Isaac Rosen, the elder son of the local rabbi. When the priest and the rabbi meet, they immediately agree that the marriage is impossible; so the young couple decides to ask the Anglican vicar to marry them. When Mr. Pinkerton insists that they wait two weeks before making a decision, the couple come to see Fr. Boyd, who suggests a "naughty" plan: Christine and Isaac announce that they have already been married in the registry office. Both Fr. Duddleswell and Rabbi Rosen are overcome with joy and wish them happiness -- whereupon they confess they were only testing them to see who would treat them with greater kindness. Fr. Duddleswell invites Rabbi Rosen to dinner (which Mrs. Pring supplies from a local kosher caterer), and we learn that the wedding did indeed take place in the registry office, as Fr. Boyd leads a toast to the happy couple.

      b: 16 Aug 81

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    NOTES


    Disclaimer: We have no connection with the show. We are just providing information, which we hope other fans will find useful. Any corrections, updates or other comments about this guide may be sent to: Russell Wodell rustle49@hotmail.com.
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