Mrs. Brown’s Boys

By David Knox on June 27, 2012 / Filed Under Reviews, Top Stories 29

When I first saw a bit of Mrs. Brown on YouTube I had a great chuckle.

I thought it was an old British comedy from the 1970s. The bloke in the frock was giving Dick Emery a run for his money and the studio audience was roaring at all the gags.

But then there were a few swear words being dropped. Including some absolute clangers. Was that “feckin'” or “f*ckin”? Or both?

Mrs. Brown, it seems, is a character created by Irish writer / performer Brendan O’Carroll starring in a 2011 series, after previous incarnations on radio. She is a proudly working class, nosey matriarch who has an opinion on everything. Usually found in her kitchen, living room or the local pub, Agnes “Mummy” Brown is generally attached to an iron, vaccum, telephone, pint of beer or the ear of a no-good son. And swearing like a trooper the whole time.

The premise of Mrs. Brown’s Boys takes a back seat to the punchlines and knockabout comedy of its star performer. O’Carroll is very skilled at his character in the great British tradition of drag comedy: Dick Emery, Danny La Rue and Lily Savage. He also displays such terrific comic timing, that it leaves you wondering why we haven’t seen more of him as an actor outside of his frock.

The combination of man-in-frock and outrageous language will probably have its appeal to some. Whereas Dick Emery would tell us “You are naughty, but I like you,” Mrs. Brown just barges right in and drops the F word. Saying such socially unacceptable words as a ‘woman’ and as a senior, is where this show seeks to derive its humour. You can expect to hear all manner of gags about willies, knickers, arses, condoms, vibrators, porn and more….. And then hear them all over again. It will be interesting to see if Seven ends up censoring any words, despite being MA rated after 9pm.

For three minutes on YouTube it’s funny stuff. As a half-hour comedy (and Seven is airing two back to back) it’s infuriating. Added to this, the supporting cast of family, neighbours and the local doctor, get no character development or sub-plots. They are there to facilitate the punchlines of O’Carroll. Most are played by O’Connell’s actual family.

There is the curious inclusion of breaking the fourth-wall, with Mummy talking to camera (even turning to the audience exasperated saying ‘I’m a man in a dress!”), wandering off the set and seeing co-stars ‘going up’ (ie. breaking into laughter). Haven’t seen some of those ideas since Maddie and David stormed off the set of Moonlighting.

The writing aspires to the work of Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft (Are You Being Served?Allo’ Allo’) but with less plotting. At times it feels more like ‘Andy Millman’ in When the Whistle Blows -the comedy parody that featured in Ricky Gervais’ Extras. Catherine Tate also had a similar character, sensibly confined to shorter sketches. Mrs. Brown would probably have Mrs. Slocombe as a neighbour were she still alive with her pussy in 2012.

None of this will prevent Mrs. Brown from having her devotees. There will be those who wee themselves (gawd, I’m doing it now) with laughter. There will be those who are shocked and appalled. And there will be those, like me, who are just bored after ten minutes of gagging on one gag.

Mrs. Brown’s Boys airs 9pm Wednesdays on Seven.


  1. Quinno January 2, 2013 at 3:30 am -

    Its Irish not British or English!!! Brendan O Carroll is Irish and all the other actors are Irish not British like everyone keeps saying!!! Its a completely different country!! Educate yourselves please!!

  2. David Knox September 29, 2012 at 9:49 am -

    Minor spoiler?

  3. bloocat September 29, 2012 at 9:14 am -

    The brilliance of Mrs Brown is that it breaks rules that have come to obsess TV executives and congrats to Seven for running it. The ratings even after three slot changes are just reward. Yes, it has a formula but then turns viewer expectations on their heads. In the final 2012 episode, ‘Mammy’ substitutes ‘gonorrhea’ for ‘gondolier’ – when the script obviously showed something different – and left the actor playing Rory catatonic with laughter for a full minute while the cameras kept rolling. Have a shot at making that work for you, Charlie Sheen.

  4. snoopy888 September 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm -

    This show is excellent and makes your Mother and Son/Everybody Loves Raymond look so last Century.Pleased to see another Network being bold and daring to try something new.

  5. Trev1 August 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm -

    To be honest like you David i am not the kind of person who like to many f;;;; words in any comedy or movie.But lets be honest these are hard times for all and their is nothing better than coming home sitting down and having a good laugh watching Miss Brown.So from a working mans point of view you are way out and need to be a little happier when you give your reviews
    Go Miss Brown.Aslo would encourage eveyone to watch this it might just cheer you up.

  6. dwest August 23, 2012 at 10:08 pm -

    Feel the need to clarify that it is not a British sitcom, it is an Irish comedy based in Dublin. Also to point out mrs brown is referred to as Mammy not Mummy as this is in reference to an Irish Mammy. Very rarely do we say Mummy.

  7. Klamps July 28, 2012 at 6:07 pm -

    Eveyone is entitled to their opinion – my opinion is I just love Mrs Brown. I must admit the show’s seems to start slow but for those who doen’t give it a go hang in there as the slow start is only setting up the main issue/theme that always ends up with side splitting comedy. The irony is Brendan O’Caroll is only parodying the lives of people.
    Mrs brown keeps happy for days. It sure beats the hell out of politics, results of terrorism and people suffering and cooking shows.

  8. snoopy888 July 17, 2012 at 11:18 pm -

    It’s great if a little politically incorrect.Try thinking a British Kingswood Country or A My Two Dads/My Two Wives clone but for the 21st Century

  9. David Knox July 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm -

    Benling: I’m normally pretty amused by anonymous attacks of this kind, but this is just a bald-faced lie. If you wish to remain commenting on this site get your facts right or take it elsewhere:
    Pictures of You
    Downton Abbey
    Once Upon a Time
    The Amazing Race Australia
    All Saints
    The Pacific
    Teen Wolf
    My Kitchen Rules

    …and I won’t even begin to list Nine’s shows that have had less than glorious reviews.

  10. benling July 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm -

    @Tony Bee
    Do not expect fair reviews from channel 7 programs. This is a pro 9 site.

  11. Jacqueline July 13, 2012 at 6:40 am -

    I love it, swearing and all, I`m not usually a fan of the ‘F’ word but it`s not offensive at all in this series. Have not laughed like this for a very long time. The English sure do know their comedy and how to make it work.

  12. Kylie July 10, 2012 at 11:53 am -

    @Tony Bee – that is what a review is – someone’s opinion. You don’t have to agree and what one person thinks is funny, someone else may not.

    David’s review is not way off the mark – it is his opinion.

  13. lynie July 7, 2012 at 10:00 am -

    Begging Channel 7 to please show the first episodes again, I just happened to catch some of last nights show and loved it! Couldn’t stop laughing.

  14. Katie June 30, 2012 at 8:05 pm -

    I found Mrs Brown hilarious. I agree that this program is going to divide opinion. I love the earthy humour and Mrs Brown reminds me on one of my Aunts. The name is Brendan O’Carroll not O’Connell.

  15. Guy June 30, 2012 at 5:04 pm -

    One of the best British comedies i have seen in some time. It was feckin’ awesome. I loved it but my sister hated it so i guess it depends i guess like David said.

  16. David Knox June 30, 2012 at 3:25 pm -

    I don’t mind people disagreeing but it seems there are divisions of opinion, which is kinda what I said in the final sentences.

  17. Tony Bee June 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm -

    Sorry, but this review is way off the mark. This is one of the freshest and funniest comedies around!

  18. Rayne June 30, 2012 at 10:31 am -

    I LOLed a lot and that’s more than I can say for much of the so-called “comedy” offerings on FTA. I did have a little trouble with the accents sometimes though. Go Mrs Brown!

  19. Robert BA June 29, 2012 at 2:37 am -

    I absolutely loved it:):):)
    Oh the humourality:):):)

    Cant wait to buy the DVD’S of this splendid comedy.

    Keep it going Channel 7.

  20. spiro June 28, 2012 at 9:46 pm -

    Sorry David but this time we might have to agree to disagree. I have always been a fan of British comedy and I love this one. The use of the fourth wall and clearly throwing the cast with unscripted asides makes it even funnier to watch.

  21. Moanique June 28, 2012 at 11:29 am -

    There were definately a few lol moments, but I couldn’t help comparing Mrs. Brown to Catherine Tates “Nan” character and thinking that Mrs. Brown was a poor copy. I watched until about halfway through the second episode and then got bored.

  22. Lyn June 28, 2012 at 11:18 am -

    It did nothing for me at all.
    But I did wonder if I’d step back in time … :/

  23. Sanndy June 28, 2012 at 10:46 am -

    Did nothing for me. Under 1 million viewers!! How many times do we need 2 hear the F word..

  24. joeline June 27, 2012 at 11:58 pm -

    Well done channel 7. I hve not laughed so hard in a long time. Brilliant show. About time we had a show like this.

  25. robfrost June 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm -

    I liked what this was trying to do, and agree that it’s good Seven are taking the risk. But it wouldnt keep me for more than 15 minutes either…And very much like When the Whistle Blows!

  26. OnePotChef June 27, 2012 at 12:21 pm -

    I thought it was hilarious. Admittedly, it’s not the most sophisticated comedy in history, but everyone I know who has watched it has enjoyed it thoroughly.

    I’m sure there will be a few who “don’t get it” or just don’t find it funny – but that’s the nature of comedy.

    Give it a go, you’ll either love it or hate it ;)

  27. Jennome June 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm -

    The Brits obviously haven’t got over their penchant for lavatory humour. I’ve hated the bits I’ve seen – it’s soooooo 60s/70s

  28. Mr. J June 27, 2012 at 11:54 am -

    i’m not getting it, i’ve watched a lot of youtube clips and promos and didn’t think they were that funny, it seems like 2.5men humour which i never got either. but i guess a lot of others did.

    the UK needs to create the next vicar of dibley, that show was excellent.

  29. pm1989 June 27, 2012 at 9:39 am -

    Im an in the boat where I watched all of season 1 back to back for three hours and was wetting my self for the entire time. Hilarious!

    But I agree with your review, may be very divisive. Still, glad Seven is taking the risk here though I am not expecting it to break any ratings records.

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