Bishop Brennan

Bishop Brennan, as portrayed by Jim Norton.

Don't call me Len, you little prick! I'm a bishop!
~ Bishop Brennan, in season 3 episode 6 'Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse', in response to Dougal calling him by his first name.

Bishop Leonard 'Len' Brennan is a recurring antagonist in Irish comedy TV show Father Ted. He is the supervisor of Fathers Ted Crilly, Dougal McGuire, Jack Hackett, Dick Byrne, Cyril MacDuff and Jim Johnson, and hates his underlings with a passion.

Because of his high role, negative attitude towards his underlings and abuse of his power, Brennan can be viewed as the series main antagonist.

He is played by Jim Norton.


Despite holding high office in the Irish Catholic Church, Bishop Brennan often abuses his position (for example, in season 2 episode 6 'The Plague', he's shown having a bubble bath with a beautiful woman), and he also violates the rule of priests' celibacy (it's revealed in season 1 episode 3 "The Passion of St. Tibulus" that he has a girlfriend and son living in America, as shown when Jack takes a video tape from the Bishop's suitcase when he visits Craggy Island).

Brennan hates Ted, Dougal and Jack, referring to them as 'the cast of Police Academy' or 'the Three Stooges'. The reason why he hates them is a mystery, but it's implied he hates them for the misdemeanors which earned them the hell of preaching on Craggy Island (Ted stole money from an orphan due to visit Lourdes and spent it on a holiday to Las Vegas; Dougal performed a mysterious ceremony at Blackrock, leaving some people irreparably damaged; and Jack has his obvious alcoholism). He says that the three priests are staying on Craggy Island until he says so (which the audience and die-hard Father Ted fans view as never, because of Brennan's hate for the three).

Brennan suffers from a severe phobia of rabbits, relating to an unseen incident in New York, when he was trapped in a lift (with 100 rabbits) and 'they started nibbling at his cape'. Dougal and Jack aren't as scared of Brennan as Ted is, thanks to their respective stupidity and alcoholism; Jack even had the nerve to punch Brennan and leave him with a nosebleed. Dougal also often refers to the Bishop by his first name, to which he responds "Don't call me Len, you little prick! I'm a bishop!" or "You address me by my proper title, you little Bollocks!"

Appearances in Father Ted

Bishop Brennan appears three times in the show, one for each season. He appears in season 1 episode 3 "The Passion of St. Tibulus", season 2 episode 6 "The Plague" and season 3 episode 6 "Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Arse" (often styled as "Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Ar**" in reruns on More4).

The Passion of Saint Tibulus

The Pope dispatches Bishop Brennan to Craggy Island, in order to get Ted, Dougal and Jack to protest outside the screening of the eponymous blasphemous film 'The Passion of St. Tibulus'. Brennan is not happy about this, as he was on holiday in California but does as he is told, going so far as to send Ted and Dougal to the cinema, seven hours before the film is due to start.

After the priests' protest against the film turns it into a success (the local newspaper, the Craggy Island Examiner, says that visitors from Gdansk, Poland are flocking to Craggy Island to see the film, because of what the priests have done), Brennan threatens to send each of the priests to parishes much, much worse than Craggy Island (Dougal is to be sent to the Philippines, whilst Ted is to be chucked on an island off the coast of South America, where two tribes are at war with each other).

However, Brennan never gets to Jack, because despite Ted's warning he proceeds to wake a sleeping Jack and gets punched in the face, resulting in a nosebleed. Brennan promptly flees but promises that he will get Jack for this, as Brennan will dispatch him somewhere terrible. However, he soon changes his mind (albeit off-screen) about the fates of his underlings, when Jack (who stole Brennan's travel bag) shows Ted and Dougal a cassette about Brennan's girlfriend and son living in America, which they use to bribe him in exchange for their silence.

Mention in Think Fast, Father Ted

Bishop Brennan is mentioned in "Think Fast, Father Ted", where Ted is on the phone to Brennan, asking if the Craggy Island priests can hold a raffle to raise funds to fix the roof of Craggy Island Parochial House (where the priests live), which has started leaking. The Bishop gives his underlings the go-ahead for this, because (according to Ted) the Craggy Island records say that the last raffle was held in 1964, with the prize being 2 bags of coal. He also issues the priests with a blue Rover 213 car, which will be the raffle prize.

The Bishop is again mentioned when Ted and Dougal fall into hysterics about what will happen if he finds out that the car has been smashed up (the deed was done by Ted, with a tack hammer, in order to straighten out a dent in the bonnet of the car). Ted worries that Brennan will kill him, Dougal and Jack if he finds out (this is a mortal sin in the Catholic Church); he then asks Dougal to commit the 'lesser' sin of fraud, by borrowing the car of their friend, Father Liam Finnegan (also called the Dancing Priest), and then rigging the raffle so they win and can give Liam his car back. Ted says that committing fraud will save the Bishop's soul.

The Plague

In his second appearance, Father Jack has developed a habit of naked sleepwalking and has recently walked into Brennan's friend Brian Noonan and his family. Bishop Brennan hears about this, and thus flies out to Craggy Island to help Ted with the security arrangements to prevent Jack from doing it again. It's revealed here he suffers from his phobia of rabbits. Brennan's suspicions are aroused when he sees Ted behaving very strangely, in conjunction with there being lettuce under the coffee table, rabbit droppings on the floor and a hutch in the living room. After Mrs Doyle unintentionally destroys his car and fed up with Dougal repeatedly calling him Len, the Bishop goes to bed. Shortly afterwards, he turns on the light to find himself in bed with a naked Father Jack and a lot of rabbits. Brennan ends the episode by screaming at the top of his voice!

Mention in Escape from Victory

Bishop Brennan is mentioned in "Escape from Victory" when the series only cliffhanger appears: Father Dick Byrne sends Ted an 'Extra special forfeit', due to the latter cheating in the All Priests Over 75's 5-a-Side Indoor Football Challenge Match. Much to the shock of everyone the forfeit is to 'Kick Bishop Brennan up the arse!'

Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Arse

Bishop Brennan's third and final appearance is in the episode following "Escape from Victory", called "Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Arse". Near the start, the Bishop phones Ted, to announce he's coming over the following day, following a phone call from Father Dick Byrne. In the call, Dick said that an uncanny image of Bishop Brennan has appeared in the skirting board of Craggy Island (Dick Byrne lives on Rugged Island). True to his word, Brennan arrives on Craggy Island with his unimaginably sarcastic PA, Father Jessup.

It's revealed here that as Brennan has to go to Rome the following day, for an audience with the Pope, he can't stay long and wants to get the business out of the way. However, when everybody goes to see the Bishop's face in the skirting board, there's nothing there. Even worse, Ted can't bring himself to kick his superior and throws himself through the window when Jessup looks up. The Bishop goes downstairs and attempts to leave, but Mrs Doyle says that 'they've taken the roads in'.

Ted explains that the Bishop and Father Jessup have to stay the night (because the bad rains have required the roads to be taken in and stored in a warehouse on the west side of the island, and they'll be back out by the next day), to which the former replies 'Oh, bollocks!'
Bishop Brennan's likeness

The likeness, which was probably painted by Dougal.

The next morning, Ted attempts to show Bishop Brennan the likeness, while Father Jessup gets into a fight with Father Jack, on the grounds that Jack's stolen a bottle of wine from the bishop's suitcase. When Brennan bends over to examine the likeness, he sees "a very crude watercolour painting of a man in a bishop's hat!"
Ted carrying out his forfeit

The photograph of Ted kicking Bishop Brennan.

Ted then carries out the forfeit, which Dougal snaps a photograph of. This sends the Bishop into a state of shock. The Bishop leaves for his flight to Rome, and his state of shock means that he can only say 'what?' and 'no.' when questioned by the passport control lady and by an air hostess. Only when he is about to meet the Pope, does he snap out of his shock, shouting "He [Ted] did kick me up the arse!" and pushes the Pope over, before making a phone call, to get on the next flight back to Ireland.

The following morning, Ted has a hangover (he got very drunk the previous night, over carrying out his forfeit, and in his drunkenness over sparkling wine, ordered 200 copies of his forfeit photograph for all his friends, along with a 10x10 enlarged copy for himself).

He wakes up and starts to recover, only to find an enraged Bishop Brennan running towards Craggy Island Parochial House (where Ted, Dougal and Jack live, and also where the show is set), bellowing like an angry animal.

When Brennan reaches the house he smashes down the front door and the door to the master bedroom where Ted is hiding under his bed. The priest says the fluff particles from the mattress are forming another likeness of the Bishop. Brennan simply upturns the bed and starts to strangle Ted, who (following Dougal's advice to kick Bishop Brennan up the arse and carry on like nothing happened) manages to convince Brennan that Ted did not boot him up the backside and that the Bishop simply imagined it.

As a thoroughly confused Brennan starts to leave, it looks as though Ted might actually get away with it. However, on the way out, Dougal shows with the photos Ted ordered including a 10x10 foot photo (with Dougal having misinterpreted Ted's order). The Bishop, of course, sees this and realises that not only did Ted kick him, he tried to trick him. He proceeds to give Ted his comeuppance, chasing him partway across the field and then booting him up the arse, sending him flying a good 8 feet across the terrace.


  • Bishop Brennan is based in part on the real-life Bishops Eamonn Casey and Michael Cleary.
  • Jim Norton, the actor who plays Bishop Brennan, was given the job by Father Ted creators Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews cast Norton as Brennan after seeing him in a 1995 Frasier episode called 'The Club'.
  • Jim Norton also admitted in the Channel 4 anniversary episode, Small, Far Away; the World of Father Ted that he has never watched the episode Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Ar** because he finds it too painful given that Dermot Morgan (who played Father Ted) died before the episode could air.
  • Bishop Brennan is supposed to have an enemy in Father Jack, because Jack had the latter to become a bishop, but (due to his alcoholism) he failed where Brennan succeeded.