Interview: Brendan O'Carroll - Mrs Brown's set for her own TV series

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MRS AGNES BROWN is not the first person to have a trilogy boasting more than three parts dedicated to them.

Robert Rankin did it with his eight-part Brentford Trilogy and Douglas Adams did it with The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, a trilogy in five parts.

That said, neither Brentford nor Hitchhiker 'trilogies' carried the preamble, 'Warning: Use of strong language – not for the easily offended!' Mrs Brown's, on the other hand, does.

For The Love of Mrs Brown, the fourth installment of Brendan O'Carroll's five-part play series, swoons into the Edinburgh Playhouse next week, as Dublin's favourite foul-mouthed mammy falls under the influence of Cupid's arrow.

Right now, however, O'Carroll has some breaking news about his comic creation: Mrs Brown has just been commissioned to star in a new BBC sitcom. Indeed the pilot episode is already "done and dusted."

"The BBC were so pleased with it that it's going to be the first episode of the series," reveals O'Carroll, who not only created the character, but plays her too.

While the BBC may be over the moon with the pilot, O'Carroll concedes that when they first realised that he wanted the series to capture all the anarchy and mayhem of a live show – a cross between a play and a stand-up routine – producers were sceptical.

"I wanted to retain something of the theatre element in the sitcom." he explains. "And they pointed out that the sitcom format was invented for a reason. In the end they let me break that reason and think outside the box."

Consequently, in the sitcom Mrs Agnes Brown frequently steps out of the action to address the viewer directly.

O'Carroll explains, "There's a scene in which Agnes goes to answer a knock at the door. At that point in the script I just wrote 'B.O.B.' That means 'bit of business'. You see, I just know that Agnes will do something on the way to the door – I don't know what she will do because it changes every night, but I know she will do something.

"I wanted to give the audience at home a chance to see that what they were watching was really happening – we didn't shoot it 20 times to get it right.

"For example, at one point her son shouts, 'Mammy, what are you getting involved for? Why don't you just mind your own business!' He slams the door and walks out, leaving Agnes standing on her own.

"As one, the entire studio audience went, 'Aww.' I just turned to them and said, 'Come on, I'm a man dressed as a woman for f**k's sake.' It brought the house down and the camera caught it.

"When the BBC producers realised what B.O.B. meant they went, 'Oh jeez'. In the end all they could do was put one camera on Agnes the whole time. That gave me the freedom to do whatever Agnes would do at any moment."

See the results when the series is broadcast in January next year, but before that O'Carroll is back at the Edinburgh Playhouse, where his ageing heroine is discovering internet dating.

"For The Love Of Mrs Brown is set around Valentine's Day and is a combination of two things. First, the family is starting to comment on the fact Agnes is a bit overweight.

"Now, Agnes has never considered herself fat. She considers herself Rubenesque, but not fat. However, they convince her to diet and take up exercise and her daughter sets her the goal of getting into a dress that doesn't fit her to go on a date."

Despite her family's protests, Agnes arranges a night out with a man she knows only as Hairy Harry 25, a date she is determined to see through.

"Now obviously Agnes can never have sex, not as long as I draw breath," laughs O'Carroll. "And of course it all goes wrong with the usual hilarious consequences."

For The Love Of Mrs Brown, Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, Tuesday-Saturday, 7.30pm, 16-25, 0844-847 1661

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