Scouse Bird Problems – Interview: Chatting to the man behind Mrs Brown

As if attending the St Patricks Day festival in Dublin wasn’t fantastic enough, this year it was being hosted by the international sensation Brendan O’Carroll AKA Mrs Brown. I was lucky enough to get the first interview of the day with him…

[The full video of the interview should be available on Youtube in the next couple of days where you can catch me saying ‘erm’ and ‘yes’ a lot and generally being a really fucking annoying interviewer. At least I have some notes for next time :)]

Today people all over the world come together to celebrate all thing Irish, well we say that but it’s basically an excuse to get pissed… Like we need one. How did it feel being chosen to lead the famous St Patrick’s Day parade with all eyes on Dublin? 

If you can believe it it’s only really impacting on me today. I was very busy at the time so when they asked me I gave them a very casual yes, not realising what a big deal it was at the time, but it’s a huge deal. The chairman of NBC in LA put it into perspective for me when I got an e-mail congratulating me on being asked to be grand marshall and he said i know you guys don’t do knighthoods but this is as close as it gets and he’s right. That’s what it feels like.

Having played a woman for so long do you think now you’ve got a better understanding of the issues women face on a day to day basis? Eg bad hair days?

I have but I wasn’t waiting on this. I grew up in a big family, my dad died when I was very young so I was raised by my mother with five sisters so I’ve always had a female perspective, I never really knew what sexism was. The female perspective is actually much easier to understand than a male perspective, it’s much less complex Can I get an amen?? but yes I do understand the bad hair days, even with this *points to own hair and laughs*

I do undertsand the problems women face and one of the ones which is coming to light at the moment is violence against women and the more we highlight that and the more we encourage people, women in particular, to speak about it because men won’t speak about it and a lot of the time the victims in some cases don’t even realise they’re being abused. my mother used to have this thing that if you ever think about doing something to a women she’d say ‘Imagine it was your sister, that’s the way to treat people’ When you see abuse and you imagine it’s your sister you just want to kill them.

That’s a great way to be raised. If you or anyone you know may be a victim of domestic abuse you can find more information on how to get help here.

How do you get into character?

It’s the walk. Honest to god it’s the walk. She’s got a bad hip. She walks a bit like Norman Wisdom. Once you get that walk and i put on the wig and glasses she just falls into place. I look in the mirror and say ‘Hellooo’ and there she is.

I kind of play an online character – an exaggerated version of a typical Liverpool girl. 

Is there such a thing??

Exactly! People often get confused between me the real person and her the character. You and Mrs brown are so synonymous with each other, despite the difference in gender do you ever find people confuse you and the character? And does it ever get you into trouble?

The one thing i definitely have in common with Mrs Brown is I just say it. it’s not that I don’t have a filter it’s just I don’t suffer waffle. I just say it and get it out there. The good thing about that is that I’ll never tell you a lie. I’ll always mean it in the context of being helpful or good but I certainly have that in common with her. I can probably spend 2 minutes with someone before I can say ‘Listen, it’s great talking to you’ or ‘Would you just fuck off?’ (Pronounced in the lovely Irish lilt as ‘fuck arrrff’ of course).

I’d been chatting to him for about 6 minutes at this point so hopefully I was doing ok. Despite the yes’s and erms.

How do you deal with critics of the show and do you ever take it personally?

It’s hard not to take it personally, I think it was Maeve Binchy (a great chick lit author by the way if you’re after any pool reading this summer) who describes writing a book or a script as probably the closest thing a man will get to having a baby. You’ve been nursing this thing along and working your ass off and then you put it on the stage or on tv and you’ve delivered this baby, then someone turns round and says ‘your baby is ugly’ and it’s a horrible feeling. That being said, whenever you actually meet the critics they haven’t got a clue, not a clue! My mam had a great saying, there’ll always be a racehorse telling a donkey how it should have run.  *Everyone looks puzzled* Oh sorry! Always a donkey telling a racehorse how it should’ve run… me mam was dyslexic.

Would you ever try and replicate the success of Mrs Brown with another character?

Yeh well although Mrs Brown is probabaly the quintessential thing, especially in the UK it’s not the most successful thing I’ve done. The most successful thing I’ve done is probably my first play ‘The Course’  which is about this guy who’s giving out a positive mental attitude course to these idiots. I play Joe Daly who is the course director and we’re doing a pilot of that this year with the BBC. Im looking forward to playing that. I always love playing characters. It’s hard to replicate succes, honestly I had no idea that Mrs Brown was going to be what it is, honestly no idea, we were just doing what we do for a living putting on a show. It really was a happy accident and all of a sudden you get people coming up to you going ‘I know her, I know a woman exactly like her’ but I didn’t know, I wasn’t clever enought to sit down and deliberately write a character which was going to be universally like. 

Guinness or a whiskey man?

I don’t drink. *I look shocked* Oh fuck arrrf of course I do! I’m neither, I’m a vodka man.

Finally, other than today, what’s been your most memorable Paddys day?

I’ve got two is that ok? In 2000 I was at the New York St Patricks Day and it was a really great day. We said we wouldn’t drink but i don’t remember what happened after that! I was on a book tour at the time doing 24 stops in 30 days and we were knackered by the time we got to New York. I’d booked 3 days off and the whole family flew out and we hadn’t seen them in ages so all the kids we there so we just had a great family day.

Then in 2010 we were in Toronto for the parade and we got to put a Mrs Brown float in the parade and the highlight of the parade was that our eldest grandson was on the float with us and her thought the whole parade was for him – we just had the most wonderful day with him.

They were probably my two favourites.

Thanks very much & I hope I’m saying this right! “lah leh PAH-drig SUN-uh gwitch” (Happy St Patricks Day)


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