TV review: Mrs Brown is the mother of all TV nightmares

Drink to forget Mrs Brown. Photograph: BBC
4 Feb 2013 @ 11.57 am
| Entertainment

lucy-bellerby-byline-photo-bwLucy Bellerby has a dire warning for anyone thinking of turning on the telly in the future…


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If you ever happen to be casually browsing through the channels on a Monday night, and come across BBC1 at 9.30pm, then turn the TV off, throw the controller away like a grenade and drop and roll behind the sofa, shielding your eyes and praying for morning.

If you haven’t seen Mrs Brown’s Boys (BBC1, Monday), let me sum it up for you: it is probably in the top one per cent of the worst programmes ever made. It is bewilderingly unfunny.

Creator/destroyer of souls Brendon O’Carroll stars as Mrs Brown, an overbearing Irish mammy with a woolly cardigan and a foul mouth. She and her family congregate in her depressingly brown and grubby kitchen and crack a series of poorly timed, offensive, and outstandingly bad jokes. Enter an overly camp son who’s at the centre of loads of cracks about being a fairy, and Mrs Brown reading 50 Shades Of Grey and mistaking it for a paint chart.

Drink to forget Mrs Brown. Photograph: BBC
Drink to forget Mrs Brown. Photograph: BBC

They’ve taken over the catchphrase “feck off” from Father Ted, but deploy it with none of the warmth and humour of the sadly departed Father Jack. The worst part is that O’Carroll clearly thinks he’s hilarious, and so must quite a few of the viewing public, as it’s on its third series.

I wonder who likes this kind of comedy; it has all the misogynistic, small-minded obviousness of those old school Seventies comedians. Since then we’ve matured to clever comedy like Peep Show and The Thick of It, and so a regression to something as poor as Mrs Brown’s Boys doesn’t make sense.

When I brought the subject up, one of my friends told me that he’d developed a drinking game; every minute of Mrs Brown’s Boys you manage to sit through, you have to do a shot. I only managed 20 minutes of the last episode, and I didn’t have to stop because I was drunk; but because I genuinely couldn‘t stand it, and I had to watch all of Curb Your Enthusiasm season 3 to recover.

I’ve been weirdly obsessed with My Mad Fat Diary (E4, Monday) since it started. It’s set in the mid-Nineties, oop north, and is soundtracked by many of the indie bands that I’ve spent most of my adult life being obsessed with.

Maybe I have the musical tastes of a middle aged man, but hearing Eels’ Novocaine For The Soul and Suede’s Trash on prime time telly is more than a little thrilling. Of course at the time – during the Britpop battles and rise of the ladettes – I was busy buying synthetic belly tops from Tammy Girl, collecting football stickers and playing with my Tamagotchi. My Mad Fat Diary includes a few of the pop hits from the time as well, Gina G singing Ooh Ah Just A Little Bit and House of Pain’s Jump Around, making me feel like it’s my 8th birthday again, off my face on party rings and dancing like maniac in my massive floppy velvet hat.

As for the show, it is actually quite funny – although Rae’s constant “hilarious” sexual euphemisms are pretty draining. It’s criminally overacted by some of the supporting cast, although it’s saved by the storylines being realistic and honest.

Finn (who weirdly used to be Newt in Hollyoaks) is all fit and Mancunian, Gallagher swagger and Lennon sunglasses, and Rae is flawed but likeable; although I do wish she’d not spend so much time shouting about how good Oasis are (they aren‘t). However, when I was 16 I was an absolute idiot so there’s hope for Rae yet.

I’ll be tuning in next week, probably complete with scrunchie and body glitter, mooning over Republica and writing Newt 4 Lucy in my diary, longing for it to be 1996 again.