Making Mrs. Brown's Boys
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.
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.
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.