Mrs Brown’s Boys was nearly cancelled as producers had an issue with a rude word that was being used

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
3 Min Read

Brendan O’Carroll, the mastermind behind the beloved sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys, recently spilt the beans on how the show’s journey to television faced a precarious roadblock – a seemingly innocent four-letter word that nearly plunged the show into oblivion.

In his memoir, “Call Me Mrs Brown,” O’Carroll recounts the early days when Mrs Brown’s Boys was still finding its footing. The journey began with the radio, as O’Carroll reminisces about recording ten episodes for Irish radio in the 90s. The experience was “unexpectedly fun,” but fate had a curveball waiting.

Excitement turned to disappointment when a producer slammed the brakes on the radio run. The culprit? A seemingly inconspicuous word – “bum.” O’Carroll received a call from Gareth O’Callaghan, who loved the episodes but revealed his producer, Ian Demsey, had vetoed the show because Mrs Brown said ‘bum.’ Petty as it may seem, broadcasting that at four thirty in the afternoon was a no-go.

Undeterred, O’Carroll reveals in his book how Gareth promised to air the show if he ever became the producer. True to his word, Gareth played the episodes during his first week as producer, allowing Mrs Brown’s Boys to triumph over the censorship of a single word.

Mrs Brown’s Boys was first televised on New Year’s Day in 2011.

Brendan O’Carroll’s battle to get Mrs Brown’s Boys to air

Fast forward to 2009, when the BBC came knocking, eager to turn the stage success into a television series. However, fate had another twist in store. Comedians Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross caused a stir with their infamous prank call to Andrew Sachs, temporarily halting all BBC productions, including Mrs Brown’s Boys.

After the Sachs scandal, the BBC suspended ‘everything’ for six months, leaving O’Carroll in limbo. Only after this hiatus did Brendan receive the green light to resume production on the now-iconic show.

Despite these hurdles, Mrs Brown’s Boys prevailed and became a household favourite. Premiering over 20 years ago on British TV, the sitcom has garnered immense popularity, producing three series and multiple Christmas specials. In 2012, it clinched a prestigious BAFTA for Best Situation Comedy.

Addressing critics who accuse him of transphobia and cultural appropriation for playing a woman, O’Carroll remains defiant. In an interview with The Sun, he emphasized his focus on crafting the best show, transcending gender boundaries. With a touch of humour, he questioned whether Leonardo DiCaprio playing a carpenter sparked similar controversies, highlighting the absurdity of the criticism.

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