Tuesday, 29 November 2011

More Than A Game...

I found out that Dermot (Morgan) had died the day after we filmed this, a show we had already decided would be the last Father Ted. The shock was indescribable. I had to call Arthur (Mathews, "Father Ted"'s co-creator and writer) and tell him and a few days later we had to edit this episode, still reeling. Dermot was great in this episode, probably the best I've ever seen him, and I think on some unconscious level he was keeping himself going until the end of the series (in the same way that people often get sick at the end of a long location shoot). It's still unbelievable to Arthur and me that he's not here anymore.

-- Graham Linehan, 1999

When the news broke to me about Gary Speed's death (on Facebook, of all places!) it was very difficult - nay, impossible - for me not to think of the above quote. Because I'm struggling to recall being as shocked, or staggered, about the death of a famous person since Father Ted star Dermot Morgan collapsed and died the very day after the show finished filming for good. And, in many ways, the quote does relate to Gary Speed. For there he was, with Dan Walker on the BBC's Football Focus merely a day before, in "great form". Just like Dermot Morgan was the day before he lost his life.

Now is not the time to dwell on what could have possibly caused this sudden turn of events. But what I will say is that, to me, he was the Welsh Gareth Southgate - a natural leader, a good, honest pro and a role model to everybody. He was even capable of proving me wrong too, as he overcame a shaky start with our distant black and white neighbours to become a driving force in their midfield during the Bobby Robson years. What's even sadder is that he still had potential to fulfil - there were signs that he was going to do for Wales what Lawrie Sanchez did for Northern Ireland, if not better.

RIP Gary Speed. You will be missed.

(Click here to read a blog by the BBC's Dan Walker which says it better than I ever could.)

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