SHE dresses in dowdy cardigans and granny knickers, but groupies are desperate to date Irish comic Brendan O’Carroll’s alter ego Agnes Brown.
The cross-dressing star of hit BBC sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys reveals how male admirers from both sides of the Atlantic turn up to his tours to try to meet her.
In an exclusive interview, Brendan, 66, told The Sun on Sunday: “Elderly men have turned up with flowers looking to see if they can hook up with Mrs Brown.
“We have had them at the stage door from all over the world.
“I don’t want to embarrass anybody so I just get the theatre staff to say, ‘Thank you very much but Mrs Brown doesn’t do that. She doesn’t go for a drink, but I’m happy to pass the flowers on. Thank you very much, but let’s just leave it at that’.”
The show, created by Brendan, centres on loud-mouthed Irish matriarch Agnes, whose favourite pastime is meddling in the lives of her six children.
It has been named the best British sitcom of the 21st Century and versions have aired in Romania, Mexico, America, Australia, South Africa and Iceland.
It has also been slammed as politically incorrect, with critics calling it “infantile, entirely unfunny” and “lazy, end-of-pier trash rooted in the 1970s”.
‘Ignore the critics’
But the Dublin-born actor, comedian, director, producer and writer is unrepentant.
He said: “If you go to a comedy show looking to be offended, I swear to God you’ll find something that offends you.
“It’s impossible to do comedy without offending f***ing somebody.
“Mrs Brown is Mrs Brown. She is what she is. And if you can’t take it, you can’t take it.
“If you think you can do it better, you should do it yourself.
“I honestly just ignore the critics. There will always be a donkey telling the racehorse how he should run the race.
“But to say that criticism is water off a duck’s back would be a lie. When you’re doing your best at something and somebody tells you that you’re s**t, that is really disappointing.”
Brendan also dismisses accusations of homophobia because of the portrayal of Rory — Mrs Brown’s third son — whose sexuality she describes as an “illness”.
He explained: “The thing is, Mrs Brown doesn’t understand any of that.
“She has a gay son, but she doesn’t really know what gay means, or about gay culture.”
Brendan once rejected a lucrative licensing deal in Russia after being told he would have to remove Rory from the show.
Critics have also accused him of reinforcing negative gay stereotypes by portraying Rory as camp, but the star disagrees.
He said: “I remember doing a radio show and a gay chap rang in saying the portrayal of gays in comedy is terrible, the way that comedians do an effeminate voice when they’re doing a gay joke.
“I said, ‘They’ve got to put the picture in people’s minds. And sometimes the only way you can really portray somebody gay is to have an effeminate voice’.
“And he said, ‘I just don’t think it’s funny’.
“So, I said, ‘Can you tell me a gay joke that you would not find offensive?’. And he said, ‘Two gays mug an old woman. One holds her down and the other one does her hair’.
“I f***ing pissed myself laughing and said, ‘That’s funny, but here’s the thing. Holding down an old woman isn’t f***ing funny. Mugging an old woman isn’t f***ing funny.
“Not all gays are hairdressers, and not all hairdressers are gay. Where do you want me to stop?’.” He is similarly unapologetic about accusations of racism.
Brendan was accused on Twitter of making a “blatantly racist” joke about black US actor, director and producer Tyler Perry when they appeared on BBC’s The One Show to promote their Netflix comedy A Madea Homecoming, which was released in February.
When asked if Tyler could appear on Mrs Brown’s Boys, he commented: “He’s very expensive, and so far we haven’t had anyone of his colour in there.”
He was asked by the BBC if he wanted to apologise.
Brendan said: “I didn’t. The essence of the movie is that Mrs Brown doesn’t understand colour.
“You’d never see a person of colour in her environment. Tyler got it. He laughed. I laughed.”
The star remains pals with Tyler, 52, who has now introduced his work to some of his high-profile friends.
Brendan said: “When we were doing the movie we were sitting having a cup of coffee one day and Tyler said, ‘Oh, I sent Beyonce that clip that we did, and she thought it was hilarious’. And I’m going, ‘F***ing Beyonce!’
Queen also a fan
“I thought it was pretty cool that all his friends saw it, Oprah, Chris Rock, Obama.”
The Queen is also a fan of Mrs Brown and sees the Christmas specials before they are released.
Brendan explained: “The very first time it happened I got a call from the BBC to say, ‘We just want to run it by you that Buckingham Palace has asked for an advance copy of the Christmas special’, and did I have a problem with that?
“And I said, ‘Of course not, no way’, and ever since, the Queen has got advance copies.”
His own queen is second wife Jennifer Gibney, 58, who plays Mrs Brown’s daughter Cathy and lives with Brendan in Florida.
They married in 2005 and she is now stepmother to his three grown-up children, Fiona, Danny and Eric, who have all appeared in the show.
So does he like dressing up in women’s clothes?
He said: “Before Mrs Brown, not once have I dressed as a woman. Never. Even for a party. No. never. I’d never donned a frock. Not once.
“The first time I was made up as Mrs Brown, I looked in the mirror and there was me mother looking back. It was shocking. “But when I go I want to be on stage, laid there, wearing Mrs Brown’s bra.”
- Brendan is on a nationwide tour of Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Live Show. For ticket information see mrsbrownsboys.com/pages/