In 2001 and 2002, Ship of Fools ran two highly successful Ned Flanders Night shows at the Greenbelt arts festival. In the 2001 show, a queue of 1,500 people were turned away at the door.
The shows paid ironic tribute to The Simpsons character Ned Flanders, Homer’s born again and highly nerdish (but theologically interesting) next door neighbour.
The revue-style shows included Simpsons clips, ‘write a song on the spot’ competitions with celeb musicians, a sofa interview with Tony Campolo, ironic worship songs, a short lecture on religion in the Simpsons, tacky religious merchandise sold from the stage, a time of ministry with Rev Gerald Ambulance, and music from our house band, Ned Zeppelin.
The Church Times dubbed it ‘the runaway success of the weekend.’ Possibly the most bizarre sight of a bizarre night was seeing a crowd of worshippers moshing to the strains of a full-blooded rendition of ‘Smells Like Holy Spirit.’
The show attracted significant media attention and led to an appearance of a troop of Neds (supplied by Ship of Fools) on the Graham Norton Show.