Mrs. Brown’s Boys

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. 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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. @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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

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

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

    Keep it going Channel 7.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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 😉

  19. 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.

  20. 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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