Biggest behind-the-scenes controversies from Mrs Brown’s Boys - Mrs Brown's Boys

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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Biggest behind-the-scenes controversies from Mrs Brown’s Boys

 Tax  allegations, bitter pay disputes and now a shock split from two of the main stars – Mrs Brown’s Boys is full of behind-the-scenes drama.


Brendan O'Carroll to play the titular Mrs Brown in Mrs Brown's Boys. Picture: Channel 7.


Mrs Brown’s Boys has been entertaining – and infuriating – viewers for the last 10 years, 


Despite having millions of viewers every week and even a smash-hit movie, Brendan O’Carroll – who created the controversial Irish mammy – has had to defend the show on many occasions and received scathing reviews The Sun reports.

And, while Mrs Brown and her clan – played by Brendan’s real-life family and friends – are always having a laugh on-screen, backstage is a different matter.


The cast has been rocked by a $3.7 million tax, a row over pay and one former cast member’s departure due to the “gruelling” nature of the show.


And it’s sure to be even frostier now, as Brendan’s daughter Fiona O’Carroll – who plays Maria Brown – has split from her husband Martin Delaney, also on the show, after 15 years.

Here, we take a look at the rows and scandals behind one of the biggest comedies of the past 10 years.

Quit over pay gap row


It didn’t go well for two members of the Mrs Brown’s Boys cast, Gary Hollywood and Damien McKiernan, when they confronted bosses after discovering they were being paid less than their co-stars.

After the row, Gary – who played Dino – was told he’d only be appearing in one of the show’s Christmas episodes, and Damien’s character, Dino’s husband Rory, was promptly written out completely.

A source told the Daily Star last year: “Gary and Damien were confused and hurt when they realized they were getting paid less than the others. When they raised the issue it did not go down very well.

“Gary was later told he would only be appearing in one of this year’s Christmas specials. That was the last straw, so he told them he was quitting.

The news was worse for Damien who, according to the newspaper, was given some “heartbreaking” news.

The insider added: “He was simply told he is being written out. They are both heartbroken that things have turned out this way. Work on two festive episodes has already started without the pair.”






Formerly married pair Martin and Fiona Delany and Patrick Houlihan – who plays Dermot Brown – allegedly had their fees from the show transferred to companies in Mauritius, before receiving it back in the form of a “loan”.

However, nothing they did was illegal, as cash was then sent to a trust set up by offshore law firm Appleby, with the trust taking 12.5 per cent.

The trio reportedly all had individual trusts, which they were the self-employed contractors of, meaning they had to “recommend” that their earnings be sent back to the UK in the form of loans.

Patrick claimed he was introduced to the scheme by Roy Lyness – the accountant linked to a tax avoidance scheme used by Jimmy Carr – but he insisted he “never knew what the f**k was going on.”

Brendan launched a passionate defense of his daughter and son-in-law and attacked the BBC’s Panorama for the way they treated them.

In a long, blistering letter, he raged: “She is not an oligarch laundering money through Greek banks, nor does she deal in the arms trade, deal drugs or traffic people.

“She has never committed a crime in her life, she doesn’t have a private yacht or own a collection of luxury cars. She drives a Kia people carrier which is necessary if you have four toddlers.”

He continued: “There seems to be an effort going on to tarnish the name of the show. But I’m sure the viewers know us better, that we are upfront, and always have been.

“No-one involved with Mrs Brown’s Boys has done anything illegal. Everybody that featured in that show did what they did for completely different reasons.


Brendan O'Carroll has filled the cast with family members – but that hasn’t stopped some leaving. Picture: Channel 7.



Before Damien played Rory on the show, Rory Ewan was in the role from its conception.

But, he quit in July 2017, confessing: “I got tired of it, I haven’t been happy for the last two years working there.

“There was no row with Brendan, there was no dispute over money or anything, in fact quite the opposite, I got so well paid that it enabled me to be able to leave, I didn’t need to stay.”

Speaking on The Late Late show in Ireland, Brendan added that Rory left as “he found touring gruelling. All my family go on the road”.

Despite leaving on “amicable” terms, Rory has since said he no longer speaks to his former colleagues.

In 2019, he told the Independent: “I get texts from Brendan every few months saying there are repeat fees from the TV series going into my account, but that’s it really.

“But I wish them all the best and I’d imagine they wish the same for me. But we don’t see each other anymore. That’s the same in any job really.”

Sweary rows

Mrs Brown’s Boys is known for its foul language and Brendan has repeatedly refused to tone down the swearing in his show – even by the show’s network BBC.

During early meetings with the channel, he was asked to cut swear words from his scripts in order for the show to be aired before the watershed.

Television executive Danny Cohen, who worked as controller for BBC One at the time, told him he could become a massive star if his shows were shown earlier.

Brendan said he told him: “The show is the show. Put it at eight o’clock, or put it on at half 10, put it on at half 12, the people who want to see it will find it. But the show is the show. I don’t care when you put it on, we are not changing the show.”

Brendan had a similar request from US TV networks in 2013, when some contacted him to give them permission to remake the hit sitcom for audiences over the pond.

At the time, Rory Cowan said: “By law if there is any swearing it has got to be beeped – and not just change the words. Brendan won’t agree to that at all.

“Brendan would stick to his guns. He would rather not change anything.”

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