Mrs. Brown's Boys
Mrs. Brown's Boys is a Irish television sitcom, created by and starring Irishman Brendan O'Carroll, and produced in the United Kingdom by BBC Scotland in partnership with BocPix and RTÉ. O'Carroll himself plays his drag persona, Agnes Brown, with several close friends and family members making up the rest of the cast. The show adopts an informal production style where production mistakes and tomfoolery, mostly instigated by O'Carroll, are edited into each episode. Despite being lambasted by critics, the show has become a ratings success in both Ireland, where it is set, and Britain, where it is recorded. It is also gaining[when?] increasingly higher ratings in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The show has won numerous awards.
|Mrs. Brown's Boys|
|Created by||Brendan O'Carroll|
|Written by||Brendan O'Carroll|
|Directed by||Ben Kellett|
|Theme music composer||Andy O'Callaghan|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||3|
|No. of episodes||34 (including 17 specials) (list of episodes)|
|Production location(s)||BBC Pacific Quay|
|Running time||30 minutes|
35 minutes (2013 Christmas Special, 2014–15 Specials)
40 minutes (2013 New Year Special, 2015–16 Specials)
|Production company(s)||BBC Scotland|
|Distributor||NBCUniversal Television Distribution (North America)|
|Original network||RTÉ One|
|Original release||1 January 2011 –|
|Related shows||All Round to Mrs. Brown's|
|Mrs. Brown's Boys at the BBC|
Mrs. Brown's Boys was developed from O'Carroll's works going back to the early 1990s. The character, Agnes Browne, first appeared in stage plays, radio plays, books, and straight-to-DVD films. For the sitcom, the spelling of Agnes's surname was shortened from Browne to Brown. A stage show has continued to run, and during February and March 2014 it toured Australia. A feature film, Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie, was released on 27 June 2014.
The original radio play version of Mrs. Browne's Boys (the e was later dropped) appeared first on Irish radio station RTÉ 2fm in 1992, then in a series of books written by Brendan O'Carroll from the mid-1990s onwards. The books, entitled The Mammy, The Chisellers, The Granny, and The Young Wan, were first published in Ireland, before being made available in the United Kingdom. In 1999, The Mammy was adapted into a film titled Agnes Browne with Anjelica Huston playing the title character. Following the film's success, O'Carroll wrote a series of stories adapted from the books, in which he played Mrs. Browne (now spelled 'Brown') and cast the rest of the family – including many of his own relatives as characters.
A series of seven film-like adaptations was made and went straight to DVD release, originally officially just for Ireland, and since re-released via Universal Pictures, as "Mrs Brown(e)'s Boys - The Original Series".
In turn, while these 7 straight-to-video features were released over the next few years, they would then also become adapted into the 7 stage plays later performed in rotation on the various tours, originally just in Ireland.
During this time, O'Carroll took the show on the road, appearing in a series of Mrs. Brown plays in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Outside of Ireland, the stage show got its big break at Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, where manager Iain Gordon liked O'Carroll's idea and decided to put it on, but the show didn't sell and O'Carroll suggested a 2-for-1 ticket deal, after which the show became a hit. For the next seven years, two different Mrs Brown's Boys shows were on for up to three weeks at a time. The Pavilion became known as "The Home of Mrs Brown".
There was also occasional video releases of the live theatre audience theatrical versions of the seven plays adapted from the original "The Original Series" features. These tour versions of the features are the video series referred to as the "Live Tour/Show", not to be confused with the live BBC/RTE tv broadcast episodes.
In early 2009 O'Carroll was approached by BBC Scotland producer Stephen McCrum to create a television series based on the stage show. O'Carroll recruited an expanded cast mainly from family members and wrote a pilot, but production was held back a year due to the Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand incident. The unbroadcast pilot was created in November 2009, and within three weeks of the pilot being submitted to the BBC, they commissioned a full series. Subsequently, RTÉ came on board to help produce the series in partnership with the BBC. The first series aired on RTÉ One from 1 January to 5 February 2011. In the United Kingdom, the BBC transmitted the first episode on 21 February 2011.
Following the success of the first series, RTÉ and the BBC commissioned a second, which began with a Christmas special broadcast on 25 December 2011 on RTÉ One, and the next day on BBC One. The latter was the most watched television programme in Ireland over the Christmas season. The second series began on New Year's Eve 2011 in Ireland, and two days later in the United Kingdom.
The BBC commissioned a third series in November 2011 a few weeks before the second series was broadcast. O'Carroll described the commission as "An extraordinary gift and we genuinely don't take it lightly. We're overwhelmed with the support of the audience and hopefully when they see what we've done with the second series they'll see that maybe the BBC is not totally mad." Whilst Cheryl Taylor, Controller, Comedy Commissioning for the BBC has also commented on the commission of a third series, "The new Mrs Brown's episodes are rip-roaring fun and will delight her ever growing army of fans. I am pleased as punch that we are commissioning series three – go Agnes!" Following two Christmas specials, the third series began on 29 December 2012 on RTÉ One and on 1 January 2013 on BBC One.
The BBC announced that they had commissioned two more Christmas specials for 2015, O'Carroll stated: "I have been commissioned to write another two Christmas specials and the BBC are expecting Christmas specials up until 2020."
According to Gary Hollywood, who plays Dino, on a radio interview, a Mrs. Brown's Boys Christmas Special for the year 2013 would be recorded in May 2013, due to a busy schedule of UK touring and the potential of filming the Mrs. Brown film (due for cinematic release in June 2014) from September to November 2013. On 30 January 2013, the BBC announced that two Christmas specials had been commissioned for 2013. In October 2013 The Mrs Brown's Boys Mother of all boxsets was re-released.
In January 2015, O'Carroll denied rumours that the series is ending, stating, "There is absolutely no truth in the story I am not writing any more Mrs Brown's Boys". However, there are no plans for a full series in the near future. Christmas specials for 2015 and 2016 are planned, and "the BBC are expecting Christmas specials up until 2020."
Mrs. Brown's Boys is recorded at the BBC Pacific Quay studios in Glasgow, Scotland and is recorded in front of a live audience, which is seen at the beginning and the end of each show. While a fictional storyline is the basis of each episode, the programme uses a laissez-faire style in which areas beyond the set, including equipment and crew, are sometimes seen and aspects of the show's production are lampooned within the fictional dialogue. The show takes a more irregular concept as bloopers such as characters getting lines wrong or corpsing; and set, camera, and prop faults are not edited out of the episodes.
At the beginning of each episode Agnes Brown breaks the fourth wall, with an introductory monologue. Each episode ends with Agnes again breaking the fourth wall to say goodbye. As the credits roll, the camera pulls out to see the audience and the cast of the entire episode lining up to take a bow. The finale of every series so far has ended with a music performance by the cast. "Who's a Pretty Mammy" ended with a performance of Auld Lang Syne, complete with bagpipes.
- Main cast (actor receives "Starring" credit that season) =
- Recurring cast (actor appears in two or more episodes that season) =
- = Guest (actor appears in only one episode that season)
|Series 1||Series 2||Series 3||Specials 2011||Specials 2012||Specials 2013||Movie 2014||Specials 2014-15||Specials 2015-16||Live special 2016||Specials 2016-17||Specials 2017-18||Specials 2018-19|
|Agnes Brown||Brendan O'Carroll||Main|
|Mark Brown||Pat 'Pepsi' Shields||Main|
|Rory Brown||Rory Cowan||Main||N/A|
|Cathy Brown||Jennifer Gibney||Main|
|Dermot Brown||Paddy Houlihan||Main|
|Trevor Brown||Martin Delany||N/A||Recurring||N/A||Recurring||Main|
|Betty Brown||Amanda Woods||Main|
|Maria Brown||Fiona O'Carroll||Main|
|Winnie McGoogan||Eilish O'Carroll||Main|
|Buster Brady||Danny O'Carroll||Main|
|Dino Doyle||Gary Hollywood||Recurring|
|Father Damien||Conor Moloney||N/A||Recurring|
|Father Quinn||Gary Lilburn||Recurring|
|Hillary Nicholson||Sorcha Cusack||Recurring||N/A|
|Bono Brown||Jamie O'Carroll||N/A||Recurring||N/A||Guest||Cameo||Guest||N/A||Guest||Main||Recurring|
- Rory Brown has been played by three actors with fellow Mrs Brown's Boys cast member Pat "Pepsi" Shields playing the role of Rory between November–December during the 2017 live tour. Damien McKiernan was then cast and first appeared in the 2017 Christmas Day special.
The series is also broadcast in:
- United States of America (BBC America and The Comedy Channel)
- Canada (BBC Canada)
- Québec (French version adapted for Super Écran under the title Mme Lebrun.)
- New Zealand (TVNZ 1)
- South Africa
- Australia (Seven Network in Australia, the series has secured nearly one million viewers.)
"The whole thing is entirely predicated on viewers finding a man dressed as a foul-mouthed elderly woman intrinsically funny", noted Bernice Harrison, TV reviewer with The Irish Times. "If you do, you're away in a hack, and the viewing figures are astronomical, but if you don't, and you think that died out with Les Dawson and Dick Emery, then it's a long half-hour." The Irish Independent said that Mrs Brown's Boys was the type of TV programme "that makes you vaguely embarrassed to be Irish". Noted Irish writer Graham Linehan has said he did not want his sitcom The Walshes to be compared with Mrs. Brown's Boys.
Outside Ireland, it has received similarly poor reviews. The Daily Telegraph's Sam Richards noted that the show's comedy has a "rudimentary nature", consisting of "an old-fashioned blend of silly voices and slapstick, played out in front of a live studio audience who collapse into giggles at the mere mention of the word "willy". Bruce Dessau in The Guardian described it as a "predictable, vulgar vehicle for Irish comedian Brendan O'Carroll", and in comparing it with other sitcoms said "No amount of 'fecks' are going to make Mrs Brown's Boys a classic like Father Ted". Grace Dent of The Independent remarked: "Once seen, it is rarely forgotten. To love Mrs Brown, one must be thrilled by a man in a hairnet and dinner lady tabard saying the F-word roughly once every ten minutes, egged on by a loyal studio audience so whipped to hysteria by him that one can hear pants being soiled and spleens exploding with mirth." Paul English of the Daily Record blasted the show as "lazy, end-of-pier trash rooted in the 1970s... One half-hour of this actually made me angry. Angry that the BBC seem to be abandoning quality in the pursuit of lowest common denominator ratings." Metro called it "jaw-droppingly past its sell-by date" and "not even remotely funny", saying that the BBC should "hang its head in shame" for showing "this RTÉ drivel".
A 2018 meta-review posited that the divide between the show's critical panning and audience success mirrored the Brexit divide between metropolitan elite remainers and provincial "left-behind" leavers. It pointed out the long history of such shows, starting with the early drag act Old Mother Riley by Arthur Lucan.
Mrs. Brown's Boys was a ratings success upon its initial broadcast in Ireland. Every episode aired won its timeslot for RTÉ, with an average viewership of 753,500 in January 2011. One episode's rating beat that of RTÉ's own ratings giant The Late Late Show, with 856,000 viewers tuning in to watch. The 2011 Christmas episode was the most-watched TV show in Ireland over the holiday season, with a 48.6% audience share. A year later the show again topped the Christmas ratings with "The Virgin Mammy" gaining an average of 972,000 viewers and a 47% share, and "Mammy Christmas" gaining an average of 851,000 viewers and a 51% share.
Its opening in the UK won 16.4% of the ratings in its Monday night slot and was received well by viewers. Despite the critical reviews, 2.9 million viewers had tuned in by the third episode.
- The 2011 Christmas Special achieved 6.61 million viewers, winning in its 10 pm time-slot, but did not make the top list.
- Consolidated figures revealed that the 2012 Christmas specials were the most watched programmes on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day:
- "Mammy Christmas" had 11.68 million viewers (41.3%)
- "The Virgin Mammy" was watched by 10.72 million (38.7%).
- The episode "Buckin' Mammy" was the most watched programme in the UK on Christmas Day 2013, with 9.4 million viewers.
- The 2014 Christmas special episode also topped the most viewers on Christmas Day of 9.7 million.
- The 2015 Christmas episode received 6.4 million viewers overnight and 9.49 million consolidated but was only the second most popular show.
- The 2016 Christmas episode received 6.1 million viewers overnight and 9.16 million consolidated after 28 days of catch up viewing making it the third most popular show on Christmas Day, despite airing in a late 10:30 pm slot.
- The 2017 Christmas episode received 6.8 million viewers overnight and 9 million viewers consolidated. This made it the second most popular show on Christmas Day, only beaten by Call The Midwife.
In 2011, Mrs. Brown's Boys was nominated for an award at the British Academy Television Awards. In February 2012, it won an IFTA for Best Entertainment Programme. At the 2012 BAFTA Television Awards, Mrs. Brown's Boys won the award for Best Situation Comedy, and Brendan O'Carroll was nominated for the BAFTA for Best Male Performance in a Comedy Programme but lost to Darren Boyd for his role in the Sky1 comedy series, Spy. In September 2012, the show won best comedy at the TV Choice Awards. At the 2012 British Academy Scotland Awards, Mrs Brown's Boys won the award for Best Comedy Entertainment Programme. For three consecutive years, in 2013, 2014 and 2015, Mrs. Brown's Boys won the award for Best Comedy at the National Television Awards. In Spring 2014 the series was nominated for Best Comedy at the Scottish RTS awards but lost out to Limmy's Show Christmas Special. In 2015, Mrs Brown's Boys was nominated for the BAFTA, best male performance in a comedy performance.
DVD and Blu-ray releasesEdit
More than one million copies of the first series of Mrs. Brown's Boys were sold on DVD in Ireland and the UK between October 2011 and February 2012. A complete series 1 and 2 box set was also released on 8 October 2012, containing the 2011 Christmas special as a content exclusive, meaning to own the special, one has to buy the box set.
Some of the episodes on the Series 1 DVD differ from their original broadcasts. Due to copyright issues, scenes where casts perform songs were edited out. These edits included a scene where Mrs Brown sings Altered Images' "Happy Birthday", the entire cast singing The Proclaimers song, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" in episode 3, and a scene in episode 6 where Buster sings the theme tune to Mission: Impossible. No changes have been made to the Series 2 episodes on their DVD release. A joke was made about being sued for singing a copyrighted song featured during the stage show Mrs Brown's Boys Live: Good Mourning Mrs Brown.
On 11 October 2012, Series 2 was released in Region 4 in both standard form and a limited edition. The limited edition version contained the Christmas special. The Complete Collection was also released at the same time, containing all 13 episodes.
A US DVD release of the complete series (which will also contain the first 7 Christmas specials and the unaired pilot) was released on 3 November 2015.
In North America, NBCUniversal Television Distribution handles distribution of the series.
|Title||# of disc(s)||Year||# of episodes||DVD release||Blu-ray release|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4||Region B UK||Region B AU|
|Series One||2||2011||6||TBA||3 October 2011||1 August 2012||3 October 2011||1 August 2012|
|Series Two||2||2012||6||TBA||8 October 2012||11 October 2012||8 October 2012||11 October 2012|
|Good Mourning Mrs Brown: Live Tour||1||2012||Live show||TBA||12 November 2012||7 April 2016||12 November 2012||7 April 2016|
|Series 1, 2 & Christmas Special||5||2012||13||TBA||8 October 2012||11 October 2012||8 October 2012||TBA|
|Series Three||2||2012/13||6||TBA||4 March 2013||6 June 2013||4 March 2013||6 June 2013|
|Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas Crackers||1||2011/2012||3||TBA||7 October 2013||7 November 2013||7 October 2013||7 November 2013|
|Mrs Brown's Boys Big Box
(Series 1–3 & 3 Christmas Specials)
|7||2011–13||21||TBA||7 October 2013||7 November 2013||7 October 2013||TBA|
|Mrs Brown Rides Again: Live Tour||1||2012||Live show||TBA||11 November 2013||1 May 2014||11 November 2013||1 May 2014|
|For The Love of Mrs Brown: Live Tour||1||2013||Live show||TBA||17 November 2014||TBA||17 November 2014||TBA|
|Mrs Brown's Boys: More Christmas Crackers||1||2013||2||TBA||6 October 2014||4 December 2014||6 October 2014||4 December 2014|
|Mrs Brown's Boys: Big Box of Crackers||2||2011–2013||5||TBA||20 October 2014||TBA||20 October 2014||TBA|
|Mrs Brown's Boys Live: Nice Big Box||3||2012–2014||3 Live Shows||TBA||17 November 2014||TBA||17 November 2014||TBA|
|Mrs Brown's Boys
|8||2011–14||25||3 November 2015||TBA||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Mrs Brown's Boys: Mammy's Tickled Pink & Mammy's Gamble||1||2014–15||2||TBA||5 October 2015||TBA||5 October 2015||TBA|
|Mr's Brown's Boys: Christmas Cracker'd Big Box||4||2011–15||7||TBA||5 October 2015||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Mrs Brown's Boys: Unplugged & Unleashed (Live Episode)||1||2016||1||TBA||10 October 2016||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Mrs Brown's Boys: Crackin' Christmas||1||2015–16||1||TBA||14 November 2016||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Mrs Brown's Boys: Cracking Big Box||4||2011–16||9||TBA||14 November 2016||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|All Round to Mrs Brown's Series 1||1||2017||6||TBA||16 October 2017||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Mrs Brown's Boys: Christmas Treats||1||2016–17||2||TBA||13 November 2017||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Mrs Brown's Boys: Christmas Box||5||2011–16||11||TBA||13 November 2017||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Mrs Brown's Boys: Really Big Box
(Series 1–3, 11 Christmas specials & live episode)
|12||2011–16||30||TBA||13 November 2017||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Mrs Brown's Boys: Christmas Surprises||1||2017–18||2||TBA||12 November 2018||TBA||TBA||TBA|
The first series of Mrs. Brown's Boys has been available on iTunes since 31 October 2011, including in High Definition. The two 2012 specials were released 11 November 2013. Additionally the Mrs. Brown's Boys Live Tour: Good Mourning Mrs Brown was also released 12 November 2012. Also, Mrs Brown's Boys Live Tour: Mrs Brown Rides Again was released on 11 November 2013. On 17 November 2014, Mrs. Brown's Boys Live Tour: For The Love of Mrs Brown was available to rent or buy.
Original series DVD releasesEdit
The original location films.
|Title||Set details||DVD release dates|
|Mrs Brown's Boys||Discs: 1||10 April 2006|
|Mrs Brown's Boys 2 – The Last Wedding Part 2||Discs: 1||11 May 2006|
|Mrs Brown's Boys – Believe It or Not – Part 3||Discs: 1||4 September 2006|
|Mrs Brown's Boys – Good Mourning Mrs Brown – Part 4||Discs: 1||16 October 2006|
|Mrs Brown's Boys – 1 2 3 4||Discs: 4||23 October 2006|
|Mrs Brown's Boys – Triple Trouble! – Part 5||Discs: 1|
|Mrs Brown's Boys – How Now Mrs. Brown – Part 6||Discs: 1|
|Mrs Brown's Boys – The Seven Year Itch – Part 7||Discs: 1|
|Mrs Brown's Boys – Mrs Brown's Bloomers||Discs: 1||18 October 2010|
|Mrs. Brown's Boys – The Original Series||Discs: 7||19 November 2010|
A film adaption of the series entitled Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie was released in cinemas on 27 June 2014. BBC Films is acting as its sales agent. In January 2014, whilst speaking to the Radio Times, Brendan O'Carroll said "We're already working on a sequel – Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie 2". In December 2015 it was confirmed that there will be a sequel.
In June 2014, it was announced that there would be two Mrs. Brown's Boys spin-off films. The first spin-off film is to be entitled Wash and Blow, set in the salon where Rory and Dino work. O'Carroll will write the film but rather than playing Mrs. Brown, he will star as the salon's owner, Mario. The second spin-off film in development is to be entitled Mr Wang, who is a character introduced in D'Movie. It was confirmed that English actor Burt Kwouk had been asked to take the title role but was unable to travel to Dublin, citing illness, so O'Carroll decided take on the role himself if the film gets produced. Kwouk died in 2016. It will also co-star Buster Brady and Dermot Brown working for him under a detective agency. It is currently not yet known when, or if, the spin-off films will be filmed nor released.
After starting the Ireland-only release of the original feature length episodes,that would become known as "The Original Series", on DVD, the adapted for the stage version of Mrs. Brown's Boys began as a theatre show in 1999 performing across venues in Ireland, Scotland and the North of England. O'Carroll wrote three stage plays entitled Mrs Brown's Last Wedding, Good Mourning Mrs Brown and Mrs Brown Rides Again. These three stage shows formed part of the Mrs Brown Trilogy and was toured for several years. After playing to acceptable sized audiences across Ireland and the north of England, O'Carroll decided to write a fourth stage play entitled For the Love of Mrs. Brown in 2007 he then recorded the live show and made it available onto DVD via his own website in a bid to increase the popularity of the stage show. In 2009, O'Carroll then decided to write a fifth stage play entitled How Now Mrs Brown Cow which later toured in 2010.
Since the show was picked up by the BBC in 2011 as a TV series, O'Carroll has decided to re-tour all these shows across the UK. In March and April 2014, the live stage show Mrs. Brown Rides Again was performed in theatres across Australia. Brendan O'Carroll announced at the end of each performance of Mrs Brown Rides Again that the cast would be returning to Australia and New Zealand in January 2016 for various performances of the live stage show Good Mourning Mrs. Brown. On 30 June 2014, it was announced that How Now Mrs Brown Cow would tour UK arenas starting in March 2015. Tickets for the shows went on sale on 4 July 2014.
In 2012, O'Carroll confirmed that a game show starring Mrs Brown was in development with production company 12 Yard called Mrs. Brown's Celebrities. A non-broadcast pilot was recorded in late 2012, A full series was due to be broadcast in 2013 but O'Carroll turned it down, stating that he did not need to water down the Mrs. Brown brand. The format was brought up again in 2014, this time entitled The Guess List with Rob Brydon now hosting the full series. O'Carroll has also confirmed that an animated version of the show is in development. In the Spring of 2012, O'Carroll turned down an offer to create a one-off special for HBO with the option of a full series if the show was well received as he wished to spend his time with family.
On 23 July 2016, Mrs. Brown's Boys had a one-off live episode, "Mammy Sutra", to celebrate 60 years of comedy on BBC. The show went live on BBC One and RTÉ One at 9:45 pm (BST) until 10:15 pm. The episode was then released on Mrs. Brown's Boys: Unplugged & Unleashed On Air Live DVD on 10 October 2016.
A new television chat show hosted by "Mrs. Brown" titled All Round to Mrs. Brown's began in March 2017. The show is hosted primarily by Brendan O'Carrol (as Mrs Brown) but also includes a segment titled 'The Cathy Brown Show' in which Cathy interviews celebrity guests in a talk-show like fashion. The show also heavily relies on audience participation with a member of the audiences 'Mammy' brought on set to participate in a game-show like segment.
In 2018, Brendan O'Carroll will be hosting a quiz show for the BBC called For Facts Sake as himself, with rotating members of the Mrs. Brown's Boys cast as team captains. The rest of the teams will be made up from members of the audience. 
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