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Making Mrs. Brown's Boys

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Steve Saul | 17:45 UK time, Friday, 18 February 2011

Comedy Producer Stephen McCrum (Mongrels, Coming of Age, Two Pints of Lager...) has an eye for spotting new talent. The mighty Mr McCrum tells us how he discovered outrageous Mrs. Brown and brought her to Sitcomland...

"This week has been so exciting.

Finally, after five years of what tv people call development hell, we get to put Brendan O’Carroll’s Mrs. Brown’s Boys in front of its audience – you – on BBC ONE.

I say "five years of hell". I lie. It was four years of funny stories (Brendan loves a good story), quiz nights (Brendan and family love a good quiz) and earnest script meetings in places as disparate as Derry in Northern Ireland and Epcot in Disneyland Florida (Don’t ask). And along the way I learnt a lot about hugging.

Yes, Mrs Brown’s Boys was never the standard development story. My Glaswegian friends Ian and Jeremy told me about this funny old Irish woman packing them in at the local theatre. One damp night in 2006, feeling pretty jaded from a day on the road, I tumbled, late and gently dripping, into the Pavilion… and was knocked sideways by a tsunami of mirth.

Two thousand women – almost all 60 and over – heads rocking like a field of silver cabbages in the gale of their own laughter. Then I saw the faces of the young ushers and knew I’d stumbled on a phenomenon. Despite themselves, the teenagers too were crying with laughter.

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Thanks to my friends I’d unearthed one of comedy’s hidden treasures: Brendan O’Carroll’s Agnes Brown. Up there with the greats of comic timing – the Paul Whitehouses, Dame Ednas, Billy Connollys. Queen/King of the visceral one-liner. Master/Mistress of the quick-fire ad-lib. And here on stage with him/her was a fully-formed sitcom that managed to engage you wholeheartedly in the lives of all its characters while mercilessly breaking the fourth wall.

Five million people might have queued to see the sell-out theatre shows before me, but in tv land this could count as a pioneering, once-in-a-lifetime discovery! I had to bring Mrs. Brown to the BBC. And fast.

Four years later, here we are. Back in Glasgow, recording the first series… with all the ad-libs, fourth wall breaks, and filthy language intact … and for BBC ONE!

Now it’s BBC Scotland’s talented crew who are warmly embracing the show. And Brendan and family are embracing them warmly back.

Yes, Mrs. Brown’s Boys was not just one of the most enjoyable shows to produce ever. It’s also – thanks to Brendan and family – the one with the most hugging.

Thanks for watching. We all hope you enjoy the show. Do please tell us what you think."

Mrs. Brown's Boys begins next Monday, at 22.35 on BBC One. Here's our preview of the first episode.

Got a question for Mrs. Brown? Don't miss your chance to #AskMrsBrown.

From the BBC TV Blog, Brendan O'Carroll on the influences behind Mrs. Brown.


  • Comment number 1.

    Where is Dino ? He is not in the picture with the rest of the cast !

  • Comment number 2.

    So funny REALLY enjoyed this great new show even laughed at the same time as my husband - thats the first time we have done anything together for years, infact the last time was when we caught slight of each other - naked so at least 1982 !! thanks bbc whens the next show !

  • Comment number 3.

    This first series has already aired on Irish television. It recieved huge audience figures and it gets better with each episode. Enjoy it folks Mrs Brown is the quintescential irish mammey

  • Comment number 4.

    just sky + for next week I can sleep now well once I've stoped laughing

  • Comment number 5.

    This is the worst most outdated comedy I have ever seen and I will watch anything! How it was commissioned is beyond me?????

  • Comment number 6.

    This is the best thing I've seen on TV for a long time - laughed so hard I could hardly breath - whilst crying at the same time. Thank you so much! can't wait to see the next show.

  • Comment number 7.

    OR DO I ????

  • Comment number 8.

    Luv'd it. Haven't laughed so much in ages and I certainly haven't heard my 20 year old University student daughter laugh so much whilst watching a sitcom! It was like Father Ted on steroids! Brilliant stuff - and well done to the BBC for commissioning it. Can't wait for the next instalment.

  • Comment number 9.

    GREAT STUFF! At last a sitcom that had me laughing so much I had tears running down my face. Absolutely brilliant from start to finish, lets have more like this please BBC. The cast were brilliant, it was Bread meets Father Ted but funnier.

  • Comment number 10.

    Brilliant to see the show on T.V. I have seen all of the shows on the stage at Newcastle, some more than once and each one is different. Even the rest of the cast don't know what Brendan will do next.

    Hope this is the start of many more shows.

  • Comment number 11.

    Absolutley brilliant....never laughed so much at a programme for years.
    This is the type of comedy that has been missing on TV,
    good old fashioned laughs much better than this alterative comedy rubbish.
    Well done BBC....lets have more programmes like this

  • Comment number 12.

    my how i laughed..i have read most of his books..and having lived over here a long time i really missed his comedy...so i was glued to the tv and laughed myself sore god how i have missed dublin humour...thank you for making a tough long hard day end on one major fit of giggles..

  • Comment number 13.

    What a great comedy sketch just what is needed on the t.v these days. Myself and my husband have never laughed so much in ages, to the point where we couldn't even speak about it without continued laughing. Well done to the BBC keep it coming.

  • Comment number 14.

    The BBC is a truly astounding organisation - without doubt the best broadcaster in the world. We should be proud of just how good it is - most of the time.

    Like all entities it has its bad moments - Mrs Brown's Boys is one.

    Mr McCrum(my) has shown himself to be a purveyor of turgid comedy aimed at the sort of people who look forward to The Inbetweeners coming out on DVD.
    He, Mr McCrum(my), appears to possess the perfect eye for the drivel that fills the schedules of the once enjoyable BBC Three. This is where Mrs Brown's Boys belongs. I'm not saying do not show it - just show it on the channel where it belongs.

    When original comedy has had have to fight its way from radio, through BBC Three/Two to the dizzy heights/holy grail of BBC One, why oh why is this dismal effort afforded a slot on BBC One. Whoever allowed this to happen should hang their head in shame.

    I do not mind swearing - it has its place but sadly when bombarded with the F word in such an unfunny manner it just becomes tedious. It was almost as unbearable as the 'Mammy'.

    Lazily written and with acting worse than any Australian soap, it was a very discomforting experience. Nepotism gone mad. I am sure that there are many Irish actors/actresses incensed by the idea that this is what the country has to offer. There are people who can act in Ireland. Living in Ireland it is comforting to know there is a sizeable amount of people who recognise it as the embarrassment it is.

    I hope Paul Whitehouse and Dame Edna are not unhappy to learn that their names have been mentioned in the same breath as this show. Perhaps they are fortunate enough to avoid such chilling news.

    BBC,you are a wonderful treasure for us all. Thank you for offering us a complete range of programming to enjoy and the ability to turn over to something else when you slip up and broadcast something as awful as this.

    I'll still happily pay my licence fee but just please do not spend it on any more of this drivel. I would rather see it spent on more glue to keep Brucie's wig stable when he does his terrible dancing than on this - that's how bad it is!

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm sorry but i need to disagree - this is a fantastic sitcom, and needs to be recommissioned for the next series now. if we have to put up with 12 series of my family, then we deserve 24 series of Mrs Brown's boys to make up for it!

    p.s. i registered to make sure that the beeb actually did something right by renewing this series now!

  • Comment number 16.

    Absolutely fantastic,I have not laughed so much for years,we need more good comedies like this,the timing and dialogue was brilliant,can`t wait for next week!

  • Comment number 17.

    I absolutely loved this show and have never laughed so much in ages, as a huge fan of the live theatre shows I wasnt disappointed with the BBC - amazing and captured the atmosphere and laughs perfectly!


    ...It makes a refreshing change to have something on tv which really does make you laugh from beginning to end - I hope mrs brown and the gang have a very long spell on the BBC it really is amazing :)

  • Comment number 18.

    Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. Witty, sharp and cruelly entertaining from the first minute to the last. I am addicted. I must have more! Congratulations BBC, it's worth the license fee for this series alone.

  • Comment number 19.

    I am really disappointed that in2011 we have commissioned a series so awfull as this. What a waste of bbc money, talentless rubbish, purile comedy of the lowest quality.
    As the producer admits 'appeals to grey-hared over 60s', so not for the average intelligent viewer of bbc1.
    It is sexist, ageist, racist, everything I hoped the bbc was against?.
    Please can someone explain how this filth is chosen above other new comedy??.

  • Comment number 20.

    Mrs Brown is the funnist show that I have seen on the BBC since the best days of Only Fools and Horses. Just what we need in this time of austerity.

  • Comment number 21.

    This show is mindbogglingly unfunny.
    A man dressed up as a woman and swearing a lot is just not funny whatsoever.
    Whoever commissioned this garbage should hang their head in shame.

  • Comment number 22.

    Nothing makes me laugh like the antics of Agnes Brown and her brood! Always knew that someone would eventually see sense and put this brilliantly funny work on the television. We have been "meeting" regularly with the Brown family - every time they come to Glasgow, we go along and see the show. Have also met Brendan (the funniest man alive!)and his lovely wife, Jennifer in person and they are smashing people. I am so glad the show is going to light up the lives of a nation and I wish Brendan and the whole cast and crew the very best of luck with the rest of the programmes. Hope this is the first series of many!

  • Comment number 23.

    I absolutely love this programme. I cannot think of another programme on at the moment that makes me laugh so much. The other good part of this show is that it is just good fun comedy, you do not have to analyse it or work it out, it is just funny and there is no harm in that, I just wish more people would write and perform like Brendan does. Thank you Brendan.

  • Comment number 24.

    A real breath of fresh air, stunningly funny, quick wit, add libbed to perfection.
    This production looks as if it is as funny to be in as it is to watch.
    May it go on for many more series.

  • Comment number 25.

    I love this show. Its not often a show comes along and breaks all the rules, so it's fantastic when it does. To all the people below who have complained about it, if you dont like it they'res a simple alternative - turn it off. By the looks of it, lots of people love it, myself included and as an irish girl, it sounds like a proper old irish family to me :)

  • Comment number 26.

    I love this show!! but only 3 more to go! hope there is more to come.
    Well done BBC.

  • Comment number 27.

    I just love Mrs Brows boys. laughter is good for you. oh yes lifts my spirits after some trying weeks of my husband having cancer treatment. will have wait for him to watch it as his stitches will burst, if he laughs as much as I have. keep it coming. just look forward to the next show. The best.

  • Comment number 28.

    Mrs Brown's Boys is a breathe of fresh air - Not everyone enjoys the alternative comedy considered -modern - This at least is actually funny. And I am not a grey haired over 60's pensioner - I totally disagree with the comments made earlier - "not for the average intelligent viewer of bbc1." How insulting to those of us with the common sense to see it for what it is clever, witty light hearted entertainment. Keep up the good work BBC.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    What a brilliantly funny programme - Bread with attitude :-)

  • Comment number 31.

    Just watched the third episode in the series, -what can I say another outstanding performance by Mrs Brown, family and friends. -Never have I laughed so honestly and whole heartedly. I missed the first one and caught up on Sunday, and watched the second one again. ..When's the DVD out cos I need the fix.......I've watched my fair share of comedy in my lifetime but this beats all hands down. You can often find yourself following like sheep, the laughter of the audience, not so with Mrs Brown. I was in tears this week when watching the bikini wax dialogue. Sad it may seem, given how old I am, but I actually now know what it feels like to "Split my sides laughing" - your show blows the Monday Blues away, and I can't wait for more......When's the DVD out again...lol

  • Comment number 32.

    Utterly fantastic and totally hilarious! Thank you BBC and BOCpix for such a funny production. I laughed so much I cried at Mrs Browns Waxing episode in the cupboard. It won't be everyones cup of tea but by god you are going to need a big pot because it certainly is a refreshing brew for many!
    D Stanley - Manchester.

  • Comment number 33.

    This is the best comedy on BBC since Still Game. Told everybody I know to watch it. It's so good I even overheard people in store while shopping laughing about it. It's the highlight of my week.

  • Comment number 34.

    Am loving the condensed version on BBC1 of the 4disc series that was shown years ago in Ireland, the Beebs version is much shorter and has basically mised all the long (but still enjoyable) serious parts of the show, like the dress that Agnes want's for the wedding and we actually had location shots.
    As for folk saying it's crap well I say get a life, the swearing is not offensive like it is in other "so called modern teen comedy" shows and it is how the Irish talk anyway, also it's said with an "e" in it and when they say it with the "u" in they actually change it to "bucking" so where's the offence in that?. I have seen the live show and that is mega hilarious and my wife bought me the live DVD (money well spent) and all I can say is "BEEB MAKE SURE YOU DO ANOTHER SERIES AND DO NOT LEAVE IT TOO LONG BEFORE SCREENING"
    It is so much better than inbetweeners, the office (that was utter drivel) fiday night dinner and numerous others that should not get air time.
    Keep rockin Brendan (and Family) and record more shows ASAP.
    PS To those that don't like it turn over or turn off

  • Comment number 35.

    After five years of development hell it's still a pile of unfunny dated drivel, for people who think that a man in a dress swearing is inherently amusing. Les Dawson is turning in his grave! Cut this rubbish and lets get something decent, innovative, modern, and above all, funny.

  • Comment number 36.

    just watched last weeks episode, laughed till I cried. don,t think |I'll be able to keep straight face again, when I see someone using wax again. I'm hoping to catch this at the theatre soon.

  • Comment number 37.

    At last, the seeds of a revolution. Sick of all the "politically correct", "alternative comedy" as pumped out by the limp wristed brigade who love to put "ist" on the back of any joke about race, colour, sex , religion, etc etc. For once the BBC has had the balls to put on something funny. This is an absolute gem of a programme. I know of nobody who has seen it and not laughed out loud. As for all the poor old protesters who cant remember how to laugh, or are perhaps scared of being labelled something "ist" Go hug a tree. Aaah, I remember funny...

  • Comment number 38.

    Absolutely Fantastic, I cried with laughter.
    What is surprising is that such a wide range of ages love the show, from my 30 year old partner to my 75 year old parents. Fine some people won;t like it, but then it is probably not made for you, programmes can't please everyone. There are many comedy programmes that I don't enjoy, but I certainly don;t come here to berate them, I just watch something else. To all those complaining, just switch channels and let the rest of use enjoy Mrs Brown!

  • Comment number 39.

    i love theatre and amatuer dramatics and mrs brown has that feel, as though you're there watching with the live audience. that and the fact it is so "laugh out loud" funny makes me wish it was on every night. most comedy on tv i find amusing and is very good, but this has me crying. it really is a tonic. well done bbc again for airing a cracker. more series please. don't let it stop after this one of six. love it. gwynctid

  • Comment number 40.

    iv never seen anything on tv for a long time that is so funny ...well done mrs brown and family ..keep it up ..everyone is talking about this show and we all smile when we start chatting about it ..its absolutely fantastic...well done brenden and team ....ann

  • Comment number 41.

    The best thing on tv. How can you not find this funny, just whats needed after a day at word. Should come with a health warning though, trying to keep breathing whilst laughing so hard.

  • Comment number 42.

    absolutely great. The missus and I would go to bed after each show and laugh for ages. Get on with another series please. We cant wait. A word for the supporting cast. We hope you all stay together because you really do support in every way. Well done and many thanks......Dave Winter

  • Comment number 43.

    this is one of the best comedies I've seen. Why wasn't this talent discovered sooner! none of the people mentioned in the article above come even close to how funny Mrs. Brown is. I hope the show carries on for a long time, because it is always funny and entertaining. I can't believe anyone could write anything negative about this show!

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    Only just found Mrs Browns Boys on the 3rd episode but glad I did. Better late than never as they say. I think its one of the best things on tv and told loads of my friends about it. Hope there are more episodes on their way

  • Comment number 46.

    WoW.. i love Mrs Brown..the funniest thing in comedy i have ever seen..my friend told me to watch and that when i did i would literately pee pee my pans..well sure enough the very first episode i watched i laughed soo had i actually did go in my pan..lol..can't wait to watch another series of mrs brown..PLEASE hurry and get it on again..thanks..again best show i have ever seen.

  • Comment number 47.

    mrs browns boys is the best thing i,v seen on bbc1 for a long time

  • Comment number 48.

    Loving the show great comedy in laugh the whole way through it

  • Comment number 49.

    This is the first time I have logged onto this. It is the funniest thing since Father Ted. When the show has ended my jaws and head are aching with laughter. It is also the first time I have seen what Brendan looks like as himself and he is lovely. Please keep Mrs Browns boys going as I have just watched the last of this series when Dermot,s wife has the triplets. Ahhhhh. Thankyou for a wonderful show.

  • Comment number 50.

    Mrs Brown's Boys is truely a breath of fresh air to the BBC... PLEASE PLEASE say there is going to be more of this wonderful comedy. I have'nt laughed so much in such a long time. This is good old fashioned comedy at it's best. Lets see this back on our tv pronto; Come back Mrs Brown, I miss you and your family already... :( (by the way where is this series recorded, cos I want to go )

  • Comment number 51.

    How anyone cannot find Mrs Browns Boys funny must have no sense of humour, or they are the type or person who find Celebrity Juice, Harry Hill and Ricky gervais funny, the three shows I have just mentioned are the most unfunny rubbish on TV at the moment.
    Mrs Browns Boys is enjoyed by my 83 Year old Mother who is in tears watching the show.
    At last we are not having to watch another PC program, bring back Love thy neighbour I say, but not much chance of us ever seeing that classic back on our TV's.


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