BBC fans have been left fuming after discovering that controversial comedy series Mrs Brown’s Boys has a secret spin-off series.
Mrs Brown’s Boys, which is created by and stars Brendan O’Carroll, is famed for its production mistakes and tomfoolery.
Alongside Brendan as Agnes Brown, the series stars Brendan’s real-life wife Jennifer Gibney plays Agnes’ daughter Cathy Brown and his sister Eilish O’Carroll plays Agnes’ best friend Winnie McGoogan.
Other regular faces include Paddy Houlihan as Dermot, Conor Moloney as Father Damien and Dermot O’Neill as Grandad.
The series has aired on BBC One since 2011 and is broadcast internationally. It has been well received in countries like the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
In fact, the series has been so popular in Canada that it has been remade specifically for a French-Canadian audience.
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Mrs Brown’s Boys has a Canadian spin-off called Madame Lebrun
Mrs Brown’s Boys first premiered on BBC One in 2011 and has continued to release new episodes each year in the form of TV specials, usually airing on Christmas Day. However, over the years, it has become a divisive show, earning a controversial reputation.
This didn’t deter Canadian network Super Écran, though. In 2015, they launched the spin-off series Madame Lebrun based on the original show, which currently airs in Quebec and is also available to stream on YouTube.
Although not technically a secret, the series has only recently come to the attention of British viewers on social media.
Madame Lebrun seems to replicate storylines from the original series and features very similar sets.
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It also credits Brendan for creating the original series in the intro, however, he seems to be in no way involved with it.
In fact, the series features completely different actors from Mrs Brown’s Boys.
French-Canadian actor Benoît Brière plays Germaine Lebrun, the counterpart of Agnes Brown. Meanwhile, actress Sylvie Moreau plays Jennifer’s character and is Called Carole Lebrun, and instead of Winnie McGoogan, Madame Lebrun’s best friend is Margot Dufour, played by Pierrette Robitaille.
BBC viewers were shocked to discover the existence of the spin-off
“Is it funnier than the UK version??” one BBC viewer asked on X, formerly Twitter.
Another said: “I’m sitting here thinking ‘well they’ve synched his lips to French really well’ Took another look then realised it’s not even actually him.”
“I was exactly the same. Thinking – is it just dubbed into another language or are they completely different but frighteningly similar actors? Either way – Oh Mon Dieu!” agreed a third social media user.
Upon seeing a clip of the series, another user exclaimed: “That is outrageous!”
“OMG, make it stop,” a fourth said.
While another social media user sarcastically asked: “Is it also as funny as stabbing yourself with a fork?”
Why has Mrs Brown’s Boys sparked controversy?
The series has been accused of perpetuating harmful stereotypes, especially around LGBTQIA+ characters.
In the series, one of Mrs Brown’s sons comes out as gay.
“Sure, the moment she embraces her son when he comes out is a touching moment and one as a gay man I wish I could have shared with my own mother, but from there on in the gay son is used as the punchline,” one TV fan criticised.
Another added: “The portrayal of the characters is so far removed from any kind of reality that it’s painful to watch. The show is harmful to young LGBTQ+ viewers as it enforces archaic portrayal of gay men.”
Actor Rory Cowan is responsible for bringing Rory Brown to life and is proud of his role in the series.
In an on-air interview, he spoke about that time, saying: “I had often thought of coming out to them but had always held back. Why rock the boat?
“The stigma attached to Aids was still prevalent, not to mention that homosexuality was still a crime and discrimination against gay people ran high through Irish society.
“If I told my mother, I would imagine her saying afterwards to my father, when the two of them were at home alone: ‘A man? Rory is looking for a man? Where did we go wrong? He was such a good boy. How did he turn into such a pervert? He must get that from your side of the family. There was never anything like that in mine.’”
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However, Rory explained that his mum was more than supportive when she realised he was for real.
He recounted: “Mum said ‘I just want you to be happy and if you find a man that makes you happy, then bring him home here to meet me. It’s a pity you didn’t tell me years ago. It would have saved me running around trying to fix you up with a girl.”