A BBC comedy about an oddball Irish family – sound familiar?
But this one is called The Walshes and its Irish creator Graham Linehan has revealed he has not even seen the smash hit BBC1 comedy Mrs Brown’s Boys, although he’s not a fan of the work of its creator Brendan O’Carroll.
In fact, Linehan – the Father Ted co-writer who has penned The Walshes with Irish comedy troupe Diet of Worms – would be quite happy for his show not to be compared to O’Carroll’s comedy phenomenon which was the BBC’s most watched programme over Christmas, with nearly ten million viewers.
Speaking at Monday’s press launch for The Walshes, Linehan added that while he hadn’t seen Mrs Brown’s Boys he felt confident in asserting that is was “more pantomime” than his own creation.
“I have not seen Mrs Brown’s Boys so I don’t really know. [Mrs Brown’s Boys] seems more larger than life. I was never really a big fan of Brendan in Dublin, so [Mrs Brown’s Boys] probably wouldn’t appeal to me.”
Linehan joked that he did not expect a large part of the audience to migrate from Mrs Brown’s Boys to The Walshes, adding that despite the presence of O’Carroll’s mother character in Mrs Brown’s Boys, he did not believe the Irish matriarch has ever been satisfactorily represented in homegrown TV shows.
“The Irish Mammy is something we all know but it’s not something represented on television,” said Linehan, later adding “Irish people are very witty, funny people and that’s not represented on Irish TV.”
The three part series The Walshes – a co–production between the BBC and Irish broadcaster RTE – is due to air on BBC4 next month.
It follows the tight-knit family from the West Dublin suburb of Strollinstown. Tony (Niall Gaffney) and Carmel (Philippa Dunne) are parents to Ciara (Amy Stephenson) and Rory (Rory Connolly), who have been forced home because of the state of the Irish economy.
Already, Linehan and the Diet of Worms have been sketching out ideas for a second series.
“What’s great is the characters are so clear to me,” said Linehan. “Hopefully we will get a recommission.”
He said the three-episode format worked as an extended pilot, adding: “Three-pilot runs should be done more – people often just see a pilot as something you do to try and get a full series. But the important thing is to see if the characters can be sustained.”
Philippa Dunne who plays the family’s matriarch Carmel said she would love The Walshes to be as popular as Mrs Browns Boys, adding: “We hoped people would say ‘that’s my Mam’, ‘that’s my Dad’, ‘that’s me’. We love the characters.”