It’s time to come clean about a guilty pleasure I’ve kept hidden for too long now – a wicked habit born of momentary weakness since magnified into a passionate addiction way beyond my control. It’s an older woman, God help me, a bewitching, dominating dame whose encounters leave me helpless and exhausted on the sofa.
Her control is total, as I count the endless hours in anticipation of our next uninhibited rendezvous. Is it her mellifluous Dublin accent, I ponder, or the lurid cardie and bloomers that trap me in such thrall?
And though my love is but an unrequited teardrop in the ocean of her admirers, still I breathlessly await those thrilling words that bring tingles to my manly places – “That’s nice, ya feckin’ eejit.”
Agnes Brown and I have a thing going on, you see. A rude and crude love affair that time will not wither.
Ready or not, Mrs Brown’s Boys returns to TV screens next Friday with a one-off live Halloween special to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary.
First aired in 2011, this madcap comedy has become a global phenomenon everywhere from Sydney to Vancouver, trailing awards and plaudits, including ‘best sitcom of the 21st Century’. So popular is creator Brendan O’Carroll – the former waiter, milkman and decorator – that he’s booked up for Christmas specials until 2026. That’s nice in anyone’s bad language. However, not everybody harbours the same affection for Agnes as yours truly, with some reviewers declaring the show “infantile and talent-deficient”, as well as “sentimental to retching-point, homophobic and itch-lousy”.
Well, you’re entitled to your feckin’ point of view, I suppose. Similar to Father Ted and The Young Offenders, the wit and wisdom of Agnes Brown is an acquired taste – a dish sprinkled with a sauce too tart for delicate palates. Crass and coarse she may be – but, really, who else would you want at your table for the Friday night pub quiz?
On the surface, Agnes Brown is the Irish Mammy revved up to rocket speed – a font of shrewd common sense, buttered in a soapy lather of pratfalls, wise-cracks and Benny Hill brio. Yet beneath the bravado, she is the essential Molly Malone – a salty Dub tigress who thrives on adversity, prowling her domain with sharp claws hidden beneath a furry coat.
Knowing Agnes was largely inspired by O’Carroll’s mother Maureen – a nun turned Labour TD and champion of the oppressed – explains much about the universal appeal of somebody we’d all like as a next door neighbour.
Dreamed up during the 1994 World Cup while following ‘Jack’s Army’ in Florida, O’Carroll saw mirror images of his mother in the national spirit Charlton had awakened. “Jack gave us belief in ourselves as a nation – a sense that we could take on the world. And we did.”
Agnes Brown didn’t only hit a universal feelgood funnybone in breaching television’s fourth wall, she did it wielding the F-word with a swashbuckling bravado few could resist. As for the naysayers?
Feck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.