I love Brendan O'Carroll. The creator and writer of Mrs Brown's Boys receives a lot of stick from the trendy 'right on' modern comedy set, but I make no apologies for enjoying his particular brand of comedy.
By The TV Grump @TheTVGrump
I have a bit of a confession. I love Brendan O'Carroll. The creator and writer of Mrs Brown's Boys receives a lot of stick from the trendy 'right on' modern comedy set, but I make no apologies for enjoying his particular brand of comedy.
Starting from humble beginnings on Irish radio, Mrs Brown has become a multimillion pound cash cow, encompassing endless arena tours, the hugely successful Saturday night BBC series, and even a big screen adaptation (although the less said about that, the better..) Suffice to say, slapping on a wig and a cardigan has made Brendan a very rich man.
However, all is not well in the land of Agnes and her family. After three series and a multitude of specials (of varying quality, it has to be said), it appears that this cash cow may be running a little low on milk.
Brendan's apparent reluctance to write a new series - the last being in 2013 - has meant only sporadic appearances for the Brown clan since. Usually a Christmas and New Year episode, and that's your lot for another 12 months.
So, perhaps encouraged by the success of Michael McIntyre's recent Saturday night Big Show, the BBC has tempted Brendan back for a new 6 part series - All Round To Mrs Brown's.
Borrowing heavily from McIntyre's show, along with nods to Mrs Merton, Noel's House Party and Saturday Night Takeaway, it's not so much a revolution, and more of an evolution.
Fans of the sitcom will immediately recognise the set, along with Brendan and his extended family making up the bulk of the cast. Some of whom can actually act. I've always found Buster, the local wheeling dealing wide boy - played by Brendan's own son Danny - the best of a decidedly mixed bag.
So what we have with 'All Round', is essentially a 'show within a show'. Mrs Brown's daughter Cathy (played by Brendan's real life wife Jennifer Gibney. Keep up) is hosting a chat show from the Brown residence. Quite why Pamela Anderson would find herself being interviewed in a terraced house in the back streets of Dublin, is not for us to ponder. Joining Pamela, and still ringing every last drop out of her Strictly stint, it's Judi Murray. I've no doubt she's a magnificent tennis coach, but made for chat show appearances, she's not. Brendan would have gotten more laughs from an ironing board. I did chuckle however, when Mrs Brown asked Judi "Do you ever fecking smile ?!?". If Pam's face still had the power of moment, I can only imagine how confused she'd look sitting through this.
We were treated to brief bright spot when Judi's mum appeared, with a definite twinkle in her eye, and enjoyed a little whiskey tasting with Brendan. Maybe humour does skip a generation after all (or possibly two in this case).
Aside from some genuinely fun interaction with the audience - I always think Brendan is at his best when not confined by his own script - we need to address the elephant in the room. No, not Grandad, he struck lucky and slept through the whole thing. I'm referring to Chef Ali and his cooking segments. Seriously, what was that all about ?!?! Talk about padding the fill the hour.
As a first episode, was it a success ? Probably not, but it does have potential. And with 5 million viewers tuning in for its debut, I doubt the BBC will be disappointed. I still think cutting it down to 45 minutes would improve things immeasurably, and the enjoyment of each show will rely heavily on the quality of guests booked. This Saturday appears to be Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, so good luck with that ..
It's good to see Brendan branching out though, even if that branch is more of a twig. More importantly for him though, he seems to have discovered a whole new untapped udder. So to paraphrase dear old Brucie, "Keeeeep milking!"