Feck, Arse, G'day!; TEDFEST HEADS TO OZ

Tedfest is turning into Oz-fest  Down Under
(click here to see The Guardian's photos of the second annual Ted Fest)

The annual celebration of Irush cult comedy Father Ted, which starred the late Dermot Morgan and Ardal O'Hanlon, is going to Australia next Easter.

His Aussie fans will get a chance to enjoy the Lovely Girls Competition, Buckaroo Speed Dating and A Song For Europe in the one horse town of Parkes, New South Wales.

The first foreign Tedfest is appropriately taking place in a country famous for sheep and  WOOLLY JUMPER sales.

Traditional Aran sweater exports have fallen away in recent years (but the recession seems likely to bring them back) causing islanders to export their next most famous product.

 Cathal Jack O'Flaherty, CEO of the newly formed Aran Islands Export Agency said: "Sweater sales have declined over the last two decades and we needed to look at new industry."

"Tedfest has been a godsend to our economy in recent years." AIEA also hope to take Tedfest to such exotic locations as Latvia and Papua New Guinea.

After being rejected by RTE, the state owned Irish television channel, Father Ted ran on Channel 4 from 1995 to 1998, winning a BAFTA award, as did stars Morgan and Pauline McLynn.

Pauline this week recalled how food poisoning helped her get her Mrs Doyle role.

 "The upset stomach worked to my favour because I was grey and I looked older than I was at the time," she recalled.

Controversy contines to follow Father Ted.

The creators of the television series have denounced Ireland's proposed blasphemy laws as "insanity" and pledged to support a campaign to repeal them.

Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan backed moves by a group of Irish secularists to challenge the bill against blasphemy introduced in the Dáil last week. Atheist Ireland said this weekend that it will publish a statement blaspheming all the major religions in Ireland, including Christianity and Islam. The group said it would be a calculated challenge to the law.

Under the Irish constitution, the state is obliged to have blasphemy laws. The bill going through the Dáil would amend the Defamation Act of 1961, which includes blasphemy as a crime. To abolish blasphemy laws, the government would have to hold a referendum to amend the constitution. The duo, who wrote a host of other TV comedies such as Big Train, described the blasphemy law contained in the new bill covering defamation in Ireland as "a return to the Middle Ages".

Linehan told the Observer that the justice minister Dermot Ahern, who introduced the bill, should be challenged to define what he meant by blasphemy. "This is insanity. Please, Mr Ahern, define the things we can't say, please! Can we say, 'Jesus is gay'? Or can we ask, 'Is God in a biscuit?' Could he tell us what it means? It is just insanity. After all, there are things contained in the holy books of one religion that are blasphemy to another religion. The logic behind this comes from Alice in Wonderland." He said the Irish blasphemy law was part of a trend in the west where freedom of expression was being attacked "to placate the craziest people on earth".

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