Mrs Brown’s Boys is a show that’s always divided opinion.
Some viewers are put off by the cheesy, old-fashioned gags (in all honesty, myself included), while others just enjoy the programme’s down-to-earth, uncomplicated comedy. In fact, in 2016 it was voted the top comedy of the century in a Radio Times poll so it clearly has something going for it.
But now the show’s creator Brendan O’Carroll has given us a very good reason to give the show another watch – after he revealed that he turned down a lucrative Russian TV deal because they wanted him to remove an openly gay character.
O’Carroll, who plays Agnes Brown on the BBC programme, told Irish broadcaster RTE: “They didn’t want any gay [content], in Russia in particular. It would have been a nice little deal.
“It’s a big country and so the fee you’d charge for the licensing is audience-related, so it’s a big audience and it would have been a nice fee. But [they said] no gay, absolutely no gay. So I said no gay, no show. And that was it.”
Until this year, the show featured openly gay character Rory Brown played by actor Rory Cowan, who is also gay in real life.
Russia is well-known for its rampant homophobia, especially since the introduction of the so-called ‘gay propaganda law’ in 2013.
LGBT+ people in the country have faced harassment, violence and intimidation under Putin’s rule. And in the Russian state of Chechnya, gay men were rounded up, tortured and in some cases killed earlier this year because of their sexuality, in what were described as modern concentration camps.
Quite frankly, what Brendan O’Carroll did was pretty admirable and let’s hope more people have the courage to stand up to bigots and homophobes around the world.
And I’ll definitely be tuning to the Mrs Brown’s BoysChristmas special airing Christmas Day at 10pm on BBC One.