A win for Mrs Brown's Boys at the National Television Awards is a vote we can afford to laugh off, even if Fleabag fans don't agree - Mrs Brown's Boys

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Sunday, February 2, 2020

A win for Mrs Brown's Boys at the National Television Awards is a vote we can afford to laugh off, even if Fleabag fans don't agree

Mrs Browns Boys won the comedy award at the National Television Awards, sparking a furious debate over whether or not it deserved the honour

The country is split in two, divided on faultlines of class, money and political point of view. Even though the debate has been won, acrimony and recrimination still rumbles.


Yes, the argument over Mrs Brown’s Boys winning at the National Television Awards (Tuesday, ITV, 7.30pm) pushed Brexit – almost – to one side.


Yet many of the arguments over the cross-dressing comic from the Emerald Isle beating critical darlings such as Fleabag, Netflix’s Sex Education and Channel 4’s Northern Ireland-set nostalgia-com Derry Girls have been heard many times over the past four years.

And all the subtext says Mrs Brown’s Boys is the Nigel Farage of comedy – for the uneducated, the right-wing, the person who ‘says what they like, and likes what they say’. This is opposed to Fleabag, which is for the intellectual, the forward-thinking, the one who really ‘gets’ culture. In short, a snob.

Yes, it appeals to the lowest common denominator, but I went to the panto this Christmas and laughed like a drain while a man dressed as a woman trotted out double – and often – single entendres.

The arguments used to denigrate Mrs Brown’s Boys ignore the fact that it is very, very popular and the NTAs are voted for by the public, so of course it’s going to win.

Meanwhile, polls where the public have the final say are always open to abuse, where one particular vested interest will mobilise an army of fans to vote for their favourite, just as Rage Against The Machine can beat a Simon Cowell pop puppet to the Christmas No.1.

So don’t be a snob about this – it’s only TV after all – save your ire for something more important, and if you don’t like the result, actually use your vote. And I expect to see Derry Girls win in 2020.

Among the many programmes marking Holocaust Memorial Day, two stood out.

The Windermere Children (BBC2, Monday, 9pm) was a moving drama based on the true story of hundreds of young people brought to England to begin a new life after the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps.

Meanwhile, Belsen: Our Story (BBC2, Tuesday, 9pm) featured the first-hand witness accounts of some of the survivors of Bergen-Belsen. Horrendous and heart-breaking but also somehow life-affirming, it was a fitting memorial.


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