Mrs. Brown's Boys appeared first on RTÉ 2fm, an Irish radio station, in 1992 and 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 success of the film, 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 were made, which went straight to DVD release. 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.
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 One 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 will 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, 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.
The series is broadcast in:United States of America (BBC America and The Comedy Channel)
Canada (BBC Canada) [Also adapted for Super Écran in French version in Québec province with the title Mme Lebrun.]
New Zealand (TVNZ 1)
Australia (Seven Network) [Broadcast on the Seven Network in Australia, the series has secured nearly one million viewers.]
Although the show has had high viewership, it has received poor reviews from critics and has been dubbed the "worst comedy ever made".
"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 The Daily Telegraph's Sam Richards noted that 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." The 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".
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 respectively:
"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.
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 nomiated for the BAFTA, best male performance in a comedy performance.
Mrs. Brown's Boys is a British-Irish television sitcom created by and starring Irish writer and performer 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 increasingly higher ratings in Australia and Canada. The show has won numerous awards.
It debuted on RTÉ One in Ireland on 1 January 2011 and on BBC One in the United Kingdom on 21 February 2011. As of 1 January 2017, 30 episodes of Mrs. Brown's Boys have aired, including 12 specials.
Recorded in front of a live studio audience from September to October 2010, except for "Dermot's Dilemma".
Mammy Christmas was recorded in front of a live studio audience in October 2012. The Virgin Mammy was recorded in front of a live studio audience in November 2012.
Recorded in front of a live studio audience from October to November 2012.
The two episodes were recorded in front of a live studio audience in May 2013.
The two episodes were recorded in front of a live studio audience in October 2014.
It was announced that the show would continue with two Christmas specials every year until at least 2020, Brendan O'Carroll confirmed that there would be no fourth series and the show would only continue as specials. The 2015 Christmas Specials were filmed in front of a live studio audience on Thursday 24 September 2015 and on Thursday 1 October 2015.
Main article: Mrs. Brown's Boys Live (2016 episode)
It was announced in September 2015, that the show would return for a one off live episode in celebration of the 60th anniversary of sitcoms airing on BBC One. The episode was commissioned by Charlotte Moore as being the launchpad for BBC One's Landmark Sitcom Season airing in July 2016.
A cast and crew script read though took place on 13 July. A camera/sound rehearsal took place on 21 July. An audience recorded rehearsal took place on 22 July. The live studio recording took place on 23 July.
The two episodes were recorded in front of a live studio audience in October 2016.
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 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 as well.
A US DVD release of the complete series (which will also contain the first 7 Christmas specials and the unaired pilot) was released on November 3, 2015.
In North America, NBCUniversal Television Distribution handles distribution of the series.
The first series of Mrs. Brown's Boys has been available on iTunes since 31 October 2011, available 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.
The original location films, starring the same cast except Amanda Woods.
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, so O'Carroll will take on the role himself if the film gets produced. 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.
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.
When 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 23rd July 2016, Mrs. Brown's Boys hade a one-off live episode to celebrate 60 years of comedy on BBC. The show went live on BBC One and RTÉ One at 9:45pm (BST) until 10:15pm. The episode was then released on Mrs. Brown's Boys: Unplugged & Unleashed On Air Live DVD on 10th October 2016.
A new television chat show hosted by "Mrs. Brown" titled All Round to Mrs. Brown's began in March 2017.