Who are our favourite dads on television? It’s a question that’s likely to inspire debate among TV aficionados, especially as Father’s Day approaches (click here if you’re struggling to find a present). Here are six suggestions for perfect papas that have lit up our small screen.
Zachariah Bartholomew 'Zak' Dingle has now been on our screens for almost 22 years as a caring and loveable father figure who is not above throwing out the odd threat or fist here and there. Played by Steve Halliwell, Zak has let himself down in recent months by leaving partner Lisa, and who can forget some of his other storylines such as losing one son (Butch) and beating up another (Cain), while suffering a mental breakdown and trying to control his rebellious daughter Belle? Still, the Patriarch of the Dingles is still one of the soap’s more popular characters.
Robert Lindsay’s beleaguered father-of-three doesn’t have an easy life as the father of geeky Michael, boy-mad Janey and drifting but kindly Nick. However, he made it to series 11 of the long-running BBC series with wife Susan (Zoe Wanamaker) despite the numerous issues of pregnancy, funding through university, and bizarre incidents such as squatters and rich businessmen interrupting their lives and the joining of secret cults. Wanamaker claimed that the series was axed because it was ‘too middle class’, but maybe it was also because scriptwriters thought Ben was just too tired out by his crazy life.
As the Guardian noted, it’s amazing just how much mileage the writers squeezed out of a character who seemed to engage in, “nothing much: just Jim (Ricky Tomlinson), king of his castle, remote control of state in hand; a portrait of a family at peace, sated and insulated from the post-anything-goes world by booze, tea, biscuits, fags and mass entertainment TV. And yet it says just everything.”
Ok, he’s not a British dad, but since the first Simpsons episode to be broadcast in the UK was as far back as 1990 on Sky One we are probably just as fond of him as our cousins across the pond. Few dads can be as flawed and perfect in one package as Homer, whose quotes such as “You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try”, and “Movies are the only escape from the drudgery of work and family … No offense” have inspired a generation.
William Roache was there from the start in playing Ken Barlow in Coronation Street, from the first episode on December 9, 1960. Father to the predator that is Tracy, the studious and kind-hearted Barlow has let his perfect mask slip on several occasions, to the chagrin of his beloved late wife Deirdre. Numerous flings with characters, including Rita and Alma, don’t disguise the fact that he’s always been there for his belligerent daughter.
The newest character on this list of legends comes from Walford. Mick Carter, played by cockney treacle Danny Dyer, arrived on our screens on Christmas Day in 2013. His present to the Eastenders viewing public has been storylines such as overcoming his fear of water, the discovery that Shirley is not his sister but actually his mother, and coping with Linda's rape by his brother Dean – all while still remaining a decent bloke. Indeed, Dyer has admitted that the role virtually saved his career after a prolonged period of struggling to find work.