Brendan O’Carroll responds to years of backlash over Mrs Brown’s Boys

 Comedian said that he ‘doesn’t care’ what the show’s haters think, as comedy prepares to return for a new Christmas special

With co-star and wife Jennifer Gibney

(BBC Studios / Elaine Livingston)

Mrs Brown’s Boys creator Brendan O’Carroll has shared the poignant reason he doesn’t pay attention to the show’s critics.

The Irish actor stars as the loud-mouthed titular matriarch in the BBC’s slapstick comedy series, which began life on the radio and has aired on TV since 2011.

In the 12 years of series and festive specials since, Mrs Brown’s Boys has been popular with viewers but maligned by critics and social media users, many of whom have branded the show “unwatchable” and called it the worst comedy on TV.

But speaking in a recent interview, O’Carroll said that he’d learnt not to take the critics “too seriously”.

“First of all, I’m well aware that comedy is very subjective,” he told the BBC (via the Radio Times). “What some people like, other people just detest. So I don’t take it too serious.”

O’Carroll said that what was far more important to him was the response from families with autistic children who said that the show had helped them over the years.

“When we started... by about the fourth or fifth episode, we got a couple of letters from people who had autistic children,” O’Carroll explained.

“It started as a couple of letters and it’s now been over 3,000. And they said that their kids watched Mrs Brown and they heard them laugh in context for the very first time. One woman said she was in the ­kitchen and heard her son laughing for the very first time.”

He added: “So when you get a ­letter like that, I don’t care what the critics say. That’ll do me.”

Starring Jennifer Gibney, Paddy Houlihan, Eilish O’Carroll, Dermot O’Neill and Pat Shields as Mark Brown, Mrs Brown’s Boys was initially one of the most popular comedies on TV when it first aired on the BBC.

The show reached a peak audience of 11 million in 2012 and 2013, but its viewership has sharply declined in the decade following.

Critics, however, have long derided the show. In his review of the 2022 Christmas special, which was watched by a comparatively small audience of 3.81 million, The Independent’s Sean O’Grady described the show as being “still worse than cranberry sauce and Whamageddon”.

“Incredulous and stony-faced, I’ve watched people weep with laughter at Mrs Brown’s Boys, and I can’t dispute its extreme and incredibly durable popularity (it started on the radio 30 years ago and has been a Christmas TV staple since 2012),” he wrote.

“It has successfully defied the critics, and it won over the acerbic and fastidious [satirist Victor] Lewis-Smith, which is quite the achievement and one to take seriously.

“I’ve made an effort to like it, I really have, and this year’s is better than most. I’ve given it another star this time round – but that’s the lot. Sorry, Victor.”

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