The Real Mrs. Brown
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Who'd have thought a potty-mouthed Dublin mammy with a cream cardigan and elasticated tan tights could storm British TV screens and leave a nation helpless with laughter?
Brendan O'Carroll performs to tens of thousands of people a night in packed-out stadiums across the country. In the last four years his TV show has become a number 1 ratings success and he's even making a movie.
But Brendan has had to battle hard for success. The youngest of eleven children, his mother was Maureen O'Carroll, a former nun who went on to become the first woman to be elected to the Irish parliament. Brendan adored his strong, widowed mother - and she later became the inspiration for his indomitable character Agnes Brown.
However, the family endured poverty reminiscent of Angela's Ashes and Brendan saw no option but to leave school at 12 to work. He married young and for decades struggled to make ends meet. Eventually, bankrupt and desperate, Brendan went to see a fortune teller who told him she could see his future achieving worldwide success as a comedian and actor. At first Brendan laughed at the notion, but then he thought of how much his friends loved his gags, and decided to give it a go...
This is the magical story of how a loveable Irishman with a wig and a wit as caustic as battery acid surprised everyone - most of all himself - by becoming one of the best-loved comedians in the world.
It is a story of hardship, heartbreak, and talent and will remind readers afresh that sometimes the facts can be even more extraordinary than the fiction.
at home, Doreen was supportive of Brendan’s bid for fame, but the relationship, he says, wasn’t going well. Brendan was spending so much time on the road; he certainly wasn’t the husband Doreen had married. But, in November 1991, the marriage was truly tested. Doreen announced she was pregnant again. ‘This was nine years after Danny was born and I was taken aback, largely because at this time things weren’t good between us. ‘But I came round to the idea. Then, very quickly, within two weeks,
almost taste the desperation in her life. The Mammy certainly suggested Brendan had a dark comic mind. The story is set in Dublin in the Sixties and features Agnes, the mother of seven kids, who lives in The Jarro (a fictitious amalgam of areas such as Summerhill and Stoneybatter, which would later lead to confusion when American tourists tried to find it), and gets up at 5 a.m. to work at a fruit stall in Moore Street. The tale begins just hours after the death of Agnes’s husband, Redser,
campaigned against high prices and black marketeering in the aftermath of the Second World War. It’s an angry, argumentative approach to life that Mrs Brown also manifests. It wasn’t such a huge surprise when the Irish Labour Party asked her to run for parliament, the Dáil Éireann. But it was a surprise when she won in the General Election of 1954 for Dublin North Central. There had been other female Teachta Dála’s (TDs, the Irish equivalent of an MP) elected to Parliament, but only as part of
Enniskillen. ‘So, at midday, I was waiting for a call from the bank. And I asked everyone to stop for the minute’s silence. ‘And I looked across at Jenny. And she was as worried as me, knowing we desperately needed the money. And the silence over, I got back to shooting the scene and she waved over and gave me a thumbs-down sign. The money hadn’t arrived. ‘One day, I asked Robert Quinn, who was my first assistant director, now a great director, to get all the heads of department together. I
Brendan’s first home and built around a tiny medieval hamlet that dates back to Cromwell’s time in Ireland. It was reinvented in the 1950s to house the Dubliners decanted from crumbling homes in the city centre. The idea, as was the case with many such schemes in the UK, was sound in theory. The small red-brick semis had gardens and were surrounded by green fields; perfect for playing football and producing stars of the future such as Liverpool’s Ronnie Whelan. Brendan invited me over to