RTE Mrs Brown's Boys controversies - co-stars divorce, 'secret feud' and Brendan O'Carroll sued

 Sitcom Mrs Brown's Boys has won multiple awards since airing in 2011 and has since signed a deal to produce festive specials for Christmas day until 2026. However, the RTE sitcom has faced several controversies over the years.

Mrs Browns Boys lost actor Gary Hollywood who played Dino Doyle (Image: BBC)

The RTE comedy show Mrs Brown's Boys launched in 2011 and instantly became a rating sensation with an average viewership of 753,500 - and one episode even beating that of The Late Late Show.

Mrs Brown, the loud-mouthed Dublin matriarch, is played by Brendan O'Carroll, with the rest of the cast filled with his family and close friends.

The sitcom, commissioned by RTE and BBC, follows Agnes Brown who loves to meddle in the lives of her six children.

The popular series has won multiple awards in Ireland and the UK including the Irish Film and Television Award for Best Entertainment Program.

However, since airing, Mrs Brown's Boys has faced several controversies over the years.

UK ratings drop

Some stars of Mrs Brown’s Boys fear the comedy could on the verge of being taken off air in the UK after figures plunged by around a third. The show has seen BBC ratings slump and some cast members are worried its days are numbered.

One telly insider told the Daily Star: “There is a feeling among some of the cast that the show is not going to run for much longer. The ratings are down and it feels like viewers are getting tired of it.

“For many of the cast, this show is their main source of income, so it’s nerve-racking to think about it ending. But they are trying to be realistic.”

However, in December 2020, O’Carroll announced that additional Christmas specials had been commissioned up to 2026, stating: "This new deal we signed last week goes all the way to 2026, which means I will be able to grow into the part, and we’ve a clause in which guarantees Mrs Brown is aired at 10pm on Christmas night, or else we don’t have to make it."

Mrs Brown's Boys will be also be returning for a fourth series, marking the first new series in almost 10 years. It's due to be filmed this year.

'Murky' behind the scenes 'secret feud'

Gary Hollywood who plays Dino Doyle in the series quit the show in 2020 after alleged tension behind the scenes. It is reported the star quit after a row over pay.

In an interview, he declared he is glad to be off the show.

He said: “I’m getting on with my life. I’m out of the show now and to be honest, I am glad in a sense. I feel free from all the murkiness and what it is becoming.

“It’s very strange to not be on the show after 10 years of doing Christmas specials. People have been very supportive and asking if I’m okay.

"We have all grown up together. We have shared in success. So I don’t know why this had to turn out dirty and murky. It feels like a bad divorce."

O’Carroll admitted last year that he misses Hollywood on the show. Brendan said: “He was a great actor, and we miss him. He used to call me father. He was part of the family, and we haven’t spoken since and haven’t heard a word from him since.”

Brendan O'Carroll lawsuit dropped

Ex-Mrs Brown’s Boys star Gary Hollywood dropped his pay row lawsuit against sitcom creator Brendan O’Carroll in 2021.

Hollywood launched legal action against O’Carroll, the BBC and TV production company Hungry Bear Media Limited. He had cited discrimination and unfair dismissal. He withdrew all claims in June 2021 during a preliminary hearing.

In papers lodged with an employment tribunal, Hollywood said he was paid 25% less than his colleagues for his role in 2020's six-part chat show spin-off, All Round to Mrs Brown’s.

He claimed he was dropped from one of the two Christmas specials just days before filming started.

Brendan O'Carroll wins the Best TV Entertainment Programme award for 'Mrs Brown's Boys' (Image: WireImage)

But Hollywood withdrew his claims of unfair dismissal, discrimination and arrears in pay during a preliminary Employments Tribunal hearing in the UK by video link.

In the judgement, seen by this paper, during the hearing, Hollywood said that he believed that he had been induced to enter a contract, under which he agreed to receive a lower fee than his colleagues, because of a misrepresentation.

However, the Employment Tribunal ruled that “this is not a type of claim in respect of which the tribunal has jurisdiction. And therefore no dismissal order can be made”.

'Worst year of his life'

Gary Hollywood, known for his role as Dino Doyle, admitted to mentally struggling following his exit from Mrs Brown’s Boys and his traumatic family situation.

Hollywood played the hairdresser from 2004 until 2020.

After leaving the show, Hollywood was also carrying the agony of losing his brother and the anxiety of his son's premature birth.

He told OK! Magazine: “It’s absolutely been the worst year of my life.”

He added: “I’ve felt depressed – it was one thing after another. As a man, you’re told to 'man up', which makes things worse."

The star lost his brother Gerard after he had been in the hospital and was given the all clear from Covid, before suffering from two heart attacks shortly after his release.

“It still doesn’t make it any less painful, though, especially when you realise as time goes on that you’ll never truly get over the loss of a sibling,” Gary explained.

The actor also had to deal with the traumatic birth of his premature son, Ollie.

“He came a month early and weighed just over 5lb,” Gary said.

He added: “He was jaundiced and in an incubator, so we couldn’t hold him, which was heart breaking.

“But he’s thriving now and that’s the main thing.”

Co-star couple split after 15 years

Fiona O’Carroll has split from husband of 15 years Martin Delany, who she co-starred with in the hit sitcom.

The acting pair play in-laws Maria Brown and Trevor Brown in the RTE comedy series and started dating in their teens before tying the knot in 2006.

She revealed: "We wanted different things. I still have a lot of love for him and I only want the best for him and I think he feels the same way about me.

"There were no major fights, and nobody else was involved but it was a case of not being on the same page any longer."
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