Mrs Brown's Boys has finally revealed its new Rory, quite literally unveiling him during the BBC comedy's Christmas special.
Original actor Rory Cowan announced he was leaving the show in July 2016, leaving creator Brendan O'Carroll with a quandary – how do you replace someone who's been key to the show since the beginning?
The answer? Plastic surgery.
The Christmas Day storyline saw Mrs Brown's son Rory return with bandages round his head, and it was only in the final moments that Doctor Flynn removed the strapping to reveal a brand new face - and a brand new actor to boot.
- Brendan O’Carroll says Rory Cowan's Mrs Brown’s Boys departure is "like Ronaldo Leaving United"
- 'Unhappy' Mrs Brown's Boys star Rory Cowan quits the comedy after 26 years
But who is this new Rory? And is he one of the O'Carroll clan who make up the majority of the cast already?
Who is the new Rory in Mrs Brown's Boys?
The new Rory is played by Damien McKiernan.
Don't worry if you're not familiar with the name, chances are you've never spotted him on TV before now - at least not as an actor anyway. McKiernan was a professional snooker player back in the day, and it was during that time that he first met Brendan O'Carroll.
He tells RadioTimes.com that O'Carroll quite simply called him up one day to offer him the role.
"Brendan sent me a text asking me could I take a FaceTime call. 20 minutes later, he calls me, 'Hi Omen'. That's the nickname he has for me, which I love. He then disappears looking for his tea which he can't find. He’s saying 'where the hell is it, I definitely made a cup', he then realises that his phone is leaning against his cup so he didn't see it, it was so funny."
After a fifteen minute conversation O'Caroll told McKiernan he thought he'd be great for the role and to have a think about it and let him know.
"I literally fell off the bed!" says McKiernan. "I was soooo excited, I thought about it, discussed it with my wife and my two boys, my wife couldn’t stop laughing and once she stopped she told me to go for it. So a few days later I texted Brendan and asked him if he could talk. He said 'yes, ring me'. I said 'no I'm outside your room in Newcastle!'. I wanted to see him and Jenny face to face to accept and to give them with a big hug!"
Keeping his new role a secret was tough, especially when he had to dye his hair blonde: "I just said I wanted a new look!"
The Dubliner admits that he was very nervous to join the cast for rehearsals. "It felt like I was jumping without a parachute, it was then I realised that OH MY GOD this is serious. I was so nervous" he explains.
"I just didn’t want to let anybody down. They are all such fantastic people with such warm hearts and I felt so much pressure to repay their belief in me."
And when the time came to record the episode, he said everything felt "surreal".
"My nerves played a huge part and I was just trying so hard not to make a mess of anything but they supported me and they dragged me over the line. I don't think I was breathing at the time."
How difficult was it for him to NOT laugh at his old friend, who has a habit of making his co-stars crack up? "Well all Brendan has to do is look at you and that's enough to set you off laughing" says McKiernan.
"He has this way of saying things to you without opening his mouth.So yes very very difficult but it kind of calms you down as well knowing that at any time he can say or do something that will crack you up."
And what about Rory Cowan? Has he given his successor any advice?
"I actually have never met him but I admire him greatly for all he has achieved", McKiernan reveals. "It's a difficult thing to do taking over from someone who has really excelled in a part, but I will try my best."
Is the new Rory related to the cast of Mrs Brown's Boys?
Nope, McKiernan, much like Rory Cowan before him, is not a member of the family. But if you want to find out about all the family connections in the show, check out how the cast of Mrs Brown's Boys are related here.
This article was originally published on 1 January 2018