Wednesday 18 October 2017

Mrs Brown's fans not amused at 'excessive' Mandela coverage cutting into TV time

No joke: Fans of Brendan O'Carroll's 'Mrs Brown' complained to BBC
No joke: Fans of Brendan O'Carroll's 'Mrs Brown' complained to BBC

Liam Fay

Fans of Mrs Brown's Boys, Brendan O'Carroll's defiantly retro sitcom, are often accused of living in the past.

However, some of the show's devotees actually seem hyper-alert to contemporary cultural trends, not least the vogue for narcissistic sentimentality.

Almost everyone now agrees that the publicity surrounding Nelson Mandela's death and obsequies has been OTT -- but, well before the story degenerated into a fiesta of sanctimony, schmoozing and celebrity selfies, ardent Mrs Brownites were the first to cry foul.

BBC's interruption of an episode of MBB with breaking news of the South African statesman's demise antagonised a sizable section of the show's British audience. Over the ensuing days, the BBC received a hefty volume of complaints from viewers who believe that its coverage of Mandela's passing had been "excessive". Many of these complaints cited the disruption of O'Carroll's sitcom as evidence of the perceived over-reaction.

No doubt, crankiness, provincialism and maybe even intolerance of uppity Africans played a role in the backlash. In some cases, however, the complaints had more substance.

Public irritation with aspects of the TV coverage -- for example the relentless presentation of Mandela as a mix of saint, luvvie and codger -- is entirely justified.

Mrs Brown's most dedicated followers may be getting on a bit, but not all of them are off their rockers. If TV is determined to package Mandela's life and death as knockabout entertainment, why shouldn't viewers express a preference for the more conventionally clownish work of the Finglas matriarch?

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