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The mystery of Mrs Brown's Boys: how did a show nobody likes become so popular?

Brendan O'Carroll as Mrs Brown
Brendan O'Carroll as Mrs Brown

In 2006, years before anyone in the UK had heard of Mrs Brown’s Boys, comedian Brendan O’Carroll was grilled by two puppets on Irish television. Podge and Rodge were potty-mouthed alter-egos of the Big Breakfast’s Zig and Zag (they were voiced by the same performers) and had a well-deserved reputation for cutting their interviewees to the bone. 

O’Carroll was introduced as “the equally annoying, equally successful” creator of Agnes Brown. The stereotypical Dublin “mammy” was already the star of sell-out tours around Ireland alongside four bestselling novels (and a bizarre 1999 Anjelica Huston movie featuring Ray Winston as loan-shark). 

It took a few minutes but eventually Podge (perhaps it was...

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