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Mrs Brown’s Boys star Brendan O’Carroll refused to tone down swearing for BBC

Brendan O’Carroll said he refused to tone down his swearing (Ian West/PA)
Brendan O’Carroll said he refused to tone down his swearing (Ian West/PA)

Mrs Brown’s Boys star Brendan O’Carroll has said he was asked to tone down the show’s swearing by the BBC but refused, telling the corporation: “I don’t want to be a star”.

The comedian, best-known for his Dublin matriarch alter-ego, said during early meetings with the BBC he was asked to cut swear words from his scripts so the programme could be shown before the watershed.

O’Carroll, 63, said television executive Danny Cohen, who has worked as controller for both BBC One and BBC Three, told him he could become a star if his shows were shown earlier.

Brendan O’Carroll and Jennifer Gibney
Brendan O’Carroll and Jennifer Gibney star in the two Christmas specials (Artur Widak/PA)

O’Carroll was speaking at a pre-screening of this year’s two Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas specials – Exotic Mammy and Mammy’s Motel.

The comic said he had been invited in for what he called a ‘f***’ meeting, where he expected to be admonished for using foul language.

He said: “Danny Cohen had taken over as controller. I had been invited in for a ‘f***’ meeting. I went in with my producer. I arrived and Danny Cohen, he was mighty big and he was swinging in his chair.

“He spent the first 10 minutes telling me how lucky the BBC felt to have found me and the family, how wonderful Mrs Brown’s Boys was and how he liked that there was also pathos there and hopefully a message at the end – that families fall in and fall out but at the end of the day there’s always something that keeps them together. We were going through all of this stuff.”

He added that he had playfully asked Cohen to get to the point then explained that he would not change the show to attract more viewers.

He continued: “Now I’m getting f****** bored. I say: ‘Danny, can we cut to the chase? You want me to stop saying ‘f***’ so you can put the show on at eight o’clock.’

“And he said: ‘Exactly’. He said to me: ‘Look Benny, we want to make you a big star. We really do. The BBC want to make you a big headline star’.

“I said: ‘Okay, two things. First of all, I don’t want to be a big star. I never wanted to be a big star. I never did. Number two, the show is the show. Put it at eight o’clock, or put it on at half 10, put it on at half 12, the people who want to see it will find it. But the show is the show. I don’t care when you put it on, we are not changing the show.”

Jennifer Gibney, who is married to O’Carroll and plays Cathy Brown in the programme, said much worse than swearing already occurred before the watershed.

She said: “There’s things that happen pre-watershed that are four letter words like kill or hate. They are much more offensive than the word ‘f***’.”

The first Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special will air on Christmas Day on BBC One at 10.15pm. The second will air on New Years Day at 10pm on BBC One.

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