Mrs Brown’s Boys star talks about following up comedy’s massive success with new BBC quiz show For Facts Sake
HE WON more than 10 million viewers by breathing new life into the studio audience sitcom and he even conquered the world of chat shows.
But after dominating telly comedy for most of the decade, Mrs Brown’s Boys creator Brendan O’Carroll is turning his eye to a new quiz show.
And he is bringing his family to the party once again.
O’Carroll created and developed his multi-award-winning sitcom in Scotland and it is filmed in the heart of Glasgow.
He is heading back to the city to shoot quiz show For Facts Sake, which starts on Monday.
In the series, Brendan, who appears as himself, rather than his caustic alter ego, will preside over team captains made up from his Mrs Brown cast, including his wife Jennifer Gibney, son Danny and daughter Fiona.
Brendan said: “I am a stand-up comedian so going in front of the live audience was fantastic.
“But as we record For Facts Sake in the same studio that we record Mrs Brown’s Boys, it did feel strange walking around the studio without high heels. I’m really excited to be doing a show where I don’t have to wear a bra.
“When we did the pilot, it was great fun. If we can capture that on the screen, we are all in for a good time.”
Brendan added: “It’s an idea I have had for a long time. I am a fact and trivia nut and one of the things about the show that has always interested me is how a false fact often gets more traction than a true one.
“So I thought that if we could do it like a game night at home, then add the magic ingredient of audience members, we just might have some fun. We did – lots of fun.”
Brendan, 63, made his name when he first launched Mrs Brown as a radio programme in 1992 and then a touring stage show in 1999.
The sitcom, which is populated by his family and friends in supporting roles, built up an incredible audience all over Ireland and the UK.
With a particular following in Scotland, television producers approached O’Carroll after a gig in the Pavilion in Glasgow, and in 2011, the
BBC sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys hit screens and became an instant sensation.
Three series followed, along with several festival specials and a hit film Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie.
The touring shows are still massively successful. On top of that, Brendan launched chat show spin-off All Round to Mrs Brown’s last year.
Working closely together, he admits the O’Carrolls are a very competitive family (“When playing Trivial Pursuit in our house, you need to say the answer exactly as it is on the card,” he said.)
Audiences will see that spirit at play when battle erupts between his wife and kids (who play Cathy, Buster and Maria in the sitcom) in the new series.
Danny said audiences are in for a treat. He added: “Out of all the people that dad could have asked to be a team captain on his panel show, I still wonder why he asked me.
“I think viewers will finally see that there’s not much acting involved when playing the part of Buster Brady.”
Cast member Paddy Houlihan said: “Fiona is competitive but I didn’t feel a rivalry as such. I just didn’t think she was capable of beating me. Rumours of her cheating are untrue... probably.
“If she defeated me, it was fair and square... probably.
“Myself and Danny have never had any rivalry. We first met as 10-year-olds while fighting each other. Even then, Danny was cheering for me to win (which I did). But with this, he was a different animal. We haven’t spoken since.
“Nobody likes losing but Jenny takes it to another level. I was reliably informed she asked for a full recount of all scores in the hope of securing the win.”
Danny disagreed, saying: “We’ve been best friends since we were 10 years old. I know and he knows that I could never beat him in a general knowledge quiz but he also knows that he could never beat me in any sport.”
Fiona hopes viewers connect with the mad family rivalry and fun they all had during the shoot. She said: “Brendan (aka dad) makes a great host anywhere, although on this show I’m sure he probably felt more like a referee at times. We are all pretty competitive but against each other, it’s really just a bit of fun. It allows for some good banter.
“There are too many funny moments. The most awkward moment was when dad and I had to be birds and I had to do a dance to try to attract him. It was just weird and totally cringey. “
Jennifer said it was illuminating to get into the spirit of the properly trivial pursuit.
She added: “I would describe it as a fun television show about all of the trivial stuff in my husband’s head.
“He is very entertaining and he was in his element swinging on his chair, calling all the shots. I loved having members of the audience as team-mates.” Brendan said his family had become trivia kings after filming. When asked for an interesting or unusual fact, Siri and Alexa couldn’t compete with the quickfire answers that came next.
Brendan said: “Oh my God, where do I start? I have a head full of trivia.
“One fifth of all the fresh water in the world is in Canada... In 1898, the German pharmaceutical company Bayer trademarked ‘Heroin’... Crayola make enough crayons each year to circle the earth six times... Earth is at its closest to the sun every January 2-3... George Washington is the only president to unanimously win every electoral college vote.”
But how would his famous alter ego Mrs Brown get on with the quiz challenges?
“Terrible. Agnes thinks manual labour is the Spanish ambassador,” he said.
For Facts Sake starts on BBC1 on Monday at 9.30pm.
THAT’S NICE Brendan as Agnes Brown and, below, with wife Jennifer