Father Jack Hackett is a fictional character in the Channel 4 television series Father Ted. The character (played by Frank Kelly) is the deeply alcoholic, and at times violently psychopathic, third priest in Father Ted's household. According to one of Graham Linehan's former peers at Catholic University School in Dublin, Fr. Hackett has been based on one of the former resident priests at the school.
Through much of the series he is comatose in his chair and most of his waking moments are spent calling for alcohol. Despite his appearance, he is capable of impressive feats such as stealing drink at seemingly impossible speeds. Jack is also able to tell the vintage and variety of wine just from the sound of the bottle clinking, and shows a great aptitude for driving and some proficiency with firearms.
Jack is a chronic alcoholic and is in a constantly inebriated state. As a result of this, his speech is crude and limited. The few words he speaks occasionally are "Drink!", "Feck!", "Arse!" and "Girls!", though occasionally he blurts out nonsensical comments like "Are those my feet?", "I like cake!" and "I'm a happy camper!". Once, Father Ted tried to improve father Jack's speech with some success; he taught Jack the phrases "Yes!" and "That would be an ecumenical matter!" so that he could communicate at a basic level with three bishops that were guests on Craggy Island. Jack uses his alcoholism to escape from his depressing life on the island; on one occasion during Lent, he became sober and was shocked to learn that he was "still on that feckin' island!" Father Ted described Jack's sobriety in that episode as being 'like some weird hallucinogenic trip to him'. Ted also stated that Jack had not been sober for twelve years.
His alcoholism has progressed to such a degree that he will drink many household cleaning products. On one occasion, he consumed a bottle of floor polish and was pronounced dead. However it transpired he had only "the symptoms of death" - including rigor mortis and decomposition. In one episode he also drinks the household cleaning product Toilet Duck and embarks on a hallucinogenic trip. His abuse of household substances is apparently very common: for example, in the first-series episode "Entertaining Father Stone", Fr. Hackett is dragged into Craggy Island Hospital by three doctors; they tell Ted that they "believe that today it's a mixture of Babysham and Harpic."
Although sometimes seen in a wheelchair, Father Jack seems capable of independent movement when the mood takes him, and frequently escapes from the parochial house. Father Dougal often takes him out in his wheelchair and sometimes forgets to come back with him.
An interesting physical trait belonging to Jack is his heterochromia: while one of his right eye is brown, his left eye is light blue (sometimes milky white). There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with said eye as an optician stated that even though Jack was short-sighted, he is capable of seeing with both.
Jack is also very violent, although it is not clear if this is a consequence of his alcoholism or his personality. He regularly attacks people, but although he apparently gave Father Dougal a "kick up the arse", it is Father Ted (whom he usually addresses as "gobshite") who gets the worse treatment. On various occasions, he has smashed Ted over the head with an assortment of blunt instruments, thrown him through a window and even once ran him over with his car. He once threw a teacup in the direction of an oblivious Mrs. Doyle when she failed to get the message that he didn't want a cup of tea (despite a growing pile of ignored teacups and saucers she had left beside him). Once when asked "And what do you say to a cup?", his succinct response was "Feck off, cup!!!". He once attacked Bishop Len Brennan, being the only person in the house who doesn't fear him. He has to be restrained regularly due to his violence; his bed is surrounded by bars and barbed wire and he has to wear a straitjacket when in bed.
Every now and then Jack becomes very calm, cheerful and pleasant and likes to commune with nature. The reason for this is a mystery but it may be connected to lunar cycles. Particular reference is made to the "changing of the seasons during leap years."
In the episode called "And God Created Woman", Jack tries to attack a female writer who is staying in their house. Ted wants Dougal to give him some colourful flash cards saying "Dougal! The cards!". Dougal replies "which one?" and Ted says "Blue!". As soon as they put the blue coloured card in front of Jack, he becomes calm and entranced and they get him out of the room. Father Ted then explains to the writer that "blue has a strange calming effect on him (Jack)".
On a visit to the mainland he accidentally walks into an AA meeting only to later have a chance encounter with one of the other members in a pub who is carted away in an ambulance in the mistaken belief that Father Jack is reneging on his sobriety. As a result Father Jack is arrested and locked up in a cell. On the same occasion we learn that crows are responsible for Father Hackett's constantly disappearing spectacles.
His personal hygiene is dubious. He has a constant ring of scabs around his mouth and his hair is wiry, wild and, evidently extremely thick, since he once failed to notice that the top of his head had ignited after attempting to light a cigarette in the household fire. His entire head once went septic and in one episode he contracted a strange disease that caused hair of great length to grow all over his body ('the Hairy Hands Syndrome' necessitating a stay at St Clabberts, a hospice for priests with this ailment.) He keeps a terribly malodourous underpants hamper in his room, which was used to imprison Bishop Brennan's assistant, Father Jessup. Whenever his nails have to be cut, people have to wear protective safety gear, such as helmets, to protect against being injured by his incredibly strong nails. In the episode The Passion of St Tibulus Father Jack has also been called a "one man candle factory" by Father Ted as his ears produce enough wax to make vast quantities of candles (Father Ted remarked that they "almost have enough for a papal funeral").
Father Jack has had an interesting past. Flashbacks show him standing next to Eva Peron and Hitler. His own personal favourite memories seem to involve him supervising sports lessons at a girls school on warm days when the girls were permitted to 'take their tracksuit tops off'. He was a fire and brimstone priest and seems to have done some religious teaching, putting the fear of God into his young charges. The cause of Father Jack's exile on Craggy Island, apart from his alcoholism and violence, seem to be a wedding he performed in Athlone. No details are given but a shot of his face shows a lecherous expression, suggesting he may have acted in a manner sexually inappropriate for a priest, or perhaps been carried away by his own alcoholism. Jack has a phobia about nuns...in the episode, Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading he throws himself out of a window rather than meet one.
In New Jack City he is sent to an old priests' home filled with priests with identical mannerisms to him.
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