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The Real Mrs. Brown: The Authorised Biography of Brendan O'Carroll

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Who'd have thought a potty-mouthed Dublin mammy with a cream cardigan and elasticated tan tights could storm British TV screens and leave a nation helpless with laughter? Brendan O'Carroll performs to tens of thousands of people a night in packed-out stadiums across the country. In the last four years his TV show has become a number 1 ratings success and he's even making a Who'd have thought a potty-mouthed Dublin mammy with a cream cardigan and elasticated tan tights could storm British TV screens and leave a nation helpless with laughter? Brendan O'Carroll performs to tens of thousands of people a night in packed-out stadiums across the country. In the last four years his TV show has become a number 1 ratings success and he's even making a movie. But Brendan has had to battle hard for success. The youngest of eleven children, his mother was Maureen O'Carroll, a former nun who went on to become the first woman to be elected to the Irish parliament. Brendan adored his strong, widowed mother—and she later became the inspiration for his indomitable character Agnes Brown. However, the family endured poverty reminiscent of Angela's Ashes and Brendan saw no option but to leave school at 12 to work. He married young and for decades struggled to make ends meet. Eventually, bankrupt and desperate, Brendan went to see a fortune teller who told him she could see his future achieving worldwide success as a comedian and actor. At first Brendan laughed at the notion, but then he thought of how much his friends loved his gags, and decided to give it a go... This is the magical story of how a loveable Irishman with a wig and a wit as caustic as battery acid surprised everyone—most of all himself—by becoming one of the best-loved comedians in the world. It is a story of hardship, heartbreak, and talent and will remind readers afresh that sometimes the facts can be even more extraordinary than the fiction.


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Who'd have thought a potty-mouthed Dublin mammy with a cream cardigan and elasticated tan tights could storm British TV screens and leave a nation helpless with laughter? Brendan O'Carroll performs to tens of thousands of people a night in packed-out stadiums across the country. In the last four years his TV show has become a number 1 ratings success and he's even making a Who'd have thought a potty-mouthed Dublin mammy with a cream cardigan and elasticated tan tights could storm British TV screens and leave a nation helpless with laughter? Brendan O'Carroll performs to tens of thousands of people a night in packed-out stadiums across the country. In the last four years his TV show has become a number 1 ratings success and he's even making a movie. But Brendan has had to battle hard for success. The youngest of eleven children, his mother was Maureen O'Carroll, a former nun who went on to become the first woman to be elected to the Irish parliament. Brendan adored his strong, widowed mother—and she later became the inspiration for his indomitable character Agnes Brown. However, the family endured poverty reminiscent of Angela's Ashes and Brendan saw no option but to leave school at 12 to work. He married young and for decades struggled to make ends meet. Eventually, bankrupt and desperate, Brendan went to see a fortune teller who told him she could see his future achieving worldwide success as a comedian and actor. At first Brendan laughed at the notion, but then he thought of how much his friends loved his gags, and decided to give it a go... This is the magical story of how a loveable Irishman with a wig and a wit as caustic as battery acid surprised everyone—most of all himself—by becoming one of the best-loved comedians in the world. It is a story of hardship, heartbreak, and talent and will remind readers afresh that sometimes the facts can be even more extraordinary than the fiction.

30 review for The Real Mrs. Brown: The Authorised Biography of Brendan O'Carroll

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    "Brendan O'Carroll has the ability to make you feel like you're the most important person in the world." "In February 1955, Maureen O'Carroll had real reason to take to her bed. The 41-year-old mother of nine felt sick. She had serious stomach problems. And she worried there was something badly wrong. Or perhaps she was going through the change? Her doctor examined her. That night she went home and wrote in her diary: 'Went to see Dr. Carney today. I'm either pregnant or I have a growth. (Please, "Brendan O'Carroll has the ability to make you feel like you're the most important person in the world." "In February 1955, Maureen O'Carroll had real reason to take to her bed. The 41-year-old mother of nine felt sick. She had serious stomach problems. And she worried there was something badly wrong. Or perhaps she was going through the change? Her doctor examined her. That night she went home and wrote in her diary: 'Went to see Dr. Carney today. I'm either pregnant or I have a growth. (Please, God it's a growth.)' Seven months later, on 15 September, the growth arrived weighing nine pounds three ounces. She called it Brendan." Brendan O'Carroll is a remarkable man. The youngest (and perhaps cheekiest) of 10 children, his belief in himself has put him where he is today. From drawing on his memories of own mother Maureen - a strong-minded, independent, hard-working woman who would do anything for her children - he has created a character that has brought laughter to millions of people. A Positive Mental Attitude course he took a few decades ago has reaffirmed what he has always believed - that if you really want to, you can fly. I really, really enjoyed this book. Brendan is an extremely intelligent and quick-witted man, and has had some incredible ideas throughout the years. But where would he leave it - his politician mother Maureen was instrumental in politics in 50's Dublin - campaigning tirelessly for women's rights, for example getting the word 'illegitimate' remvoved from birth certificates. She became not only the first female Chief Whip in any political parliament, but also Labour's Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. Even when Brendan was down on his luck, or made poor investments, he still remained positive. "The world turns every twenty-four hours, so relax and let it happen. And if there's a problem you have to find a solution. But if you try, the solution will find you." He is much, much more than just "a crude little boll*x" as some critics have christened him. Even if Mrs. Brown and her boys are not your cup of tea, this is a fantastic story of a man who will try and do his best at whatever he does - be it comedy or waiting on tables. He believes in the people around him, and they in him.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lyn Battersby

    I am currently at the tail end of judging the Children's section of the Aurealis Awards and was in the need of an 'adult' read. Fortunately my beloved husband had given me this biography on that holiday that occurs towards the end of the year and the time in which to read it. I'm so glad he did. I took a day and a half out of my judging schedule, lay on the couch with various cups of coffee/glasses of wine and settled down to be entertained. And entertained I was. This work was a wonderful insigh I am currently at the tail end of judging the Children's section of the Aurealis Awards and was in the need of an 'adult' read. Fortunately my beloved husband had given me this biography on that holiday that occurs towards the end of the year and the time in which to read it. I'm so glad he did. I took a day and a half out of my judging schedule, lay on the couch with various cups of coffee/glasses of wine and settled down to be entertained. And entertained I was. This work was a wonderful insight into the legend and the people, past and present, who helped make the man who became Mrs Agnes Brown. As a huge Mrs Brown fan, I went into this book hoping to gain some gossip about the show and the tight family that make up its cast and I was not disappointed. As a writer and matriach to a large family, I not only enjoy seeing how people tick, I love seeing how they tick when exposed to family, friends, enemies, joys, adversity and life in its multi-coloured and multi-layered forms. A joy to read, especially as it reinforces the notion that today's failures set you up for tomorrow's successes, just so long as you're willing to get up and keep moving forward. Of particular joy to me was reading about Maureen O'Connor, a woman who seems to have changed the social play of Ireland singlehandedly. Talk about working-class hero, Brendan's mother it seems, was a force for good in a repressed society and we get to see how she reshaped the structure of the system, bringing it into a modern setting. So, why 4 stars and not 5? Because, like the play and the TV series, there are bits in the book I've read elsewhere, usually in a newspaper report. When you read certain sections word for word that have appeared elsewhere in print, it's easy to wonder which came first, the article or the bio? But, despite these minor reservations, this was a fantastic read nonetheless.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I have really enjoyed this book (not read much just lately due to frenzied activities in other quarters). Brendan O'Carroll seems a thoroughly kind, hardworking and genuine man. A family man at heart and a man you'd want to have as a friend. A truly heart-warming story. I have really enjoyed this book (not read much just lately due to frenzied activities in other quarters). Brendan O'Carroll seems a thoroughly kind, hardworking and genuine man. A family man at heart and a man you'd want to have as a friend. A truly heart-warming story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Pauline

    an interesting book im not sure I could have had the courage Brendan had to keep going through all the knock backs he took but he is a surviver good on him

  5. 5 out of 5

    Trena

    What an amazing life this man has had.I enjoyed the journey through his world looking forward to seeing him live

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julie Chettle

    Interesting life story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    This was a great bio - didn't take long to read as it was very interesting and I couldn't put it down!:) This was a great bio - didn't take long to read as it was very interesting and I couldn't put it down!:)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kate Sanderson

    Whether you are a Mrs Brown's Boys fan or not this book is worth a read! Brendan O'Carroll has had a super interesting life so far with crazy highs and lows. Whether you are a Mrs Brown's Boys fan or not this book is worth a read! Brendan O'Carroll has had a super interesting life so far with crazy highs and lows.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

    I loved the book did not know he had such a interesting past i guess you never really think about celebrities coming from rags to riches

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hayley

    I love Mrs Brown’s Boys and have from the moment I first saw it. Agnes Brown represents a certain genre of Irish women and my Nan was one of them. Women who did not compare themselves to others, had no time for low self esteem and petty vanity. Women who were not fearful of disciplining their own children nor anyone else’s proving that boundaries not spoiling is what shows a child they matter. Women who do not run down the road to meet trouble but refuse to run from it when it arrives. I couldn’ I love Mrs Brown’s Boys and have from the moment I first saw it. Agnes Brown represents a certain genre of Irish women and my Nan was one of them. Women who did not compare themselves to others, had no time for low self esteem and petty vanity. Women who were not fearful of disciplining their own children nor anyone else’s proving that boundaries not spoiling is what shows a child they matter. Women who do not run down the road to meet trouble but refuse to run from it when it arrives. I couldn’t believe someone could capture that essence so perfectly but Brendan O’Carroll nails it. And now having read his story, I admire him more than I thought possible. I could not put this book down. Brendan proves that nothing is impossible and even when you reached rock bottom, you can claw your way back to the top with the right attitude. Brian Beacom does a grand job of telling this fabulous rags to riches to rags to riches to rags and back to riches story. I love it!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amber Hassen

    My mother loves Mrs Browns Boys so I wasnt surprised when she told me I needed to read this autobiography on Brendan's career. The book initially tells the story of Brendans childhood and the strong bond he had with his Mammy. It then goes on to tell of all of the job opportunities he takes (and some that he wishes he didnt take). The story really starts to show direction when on-the-fly Brendan is asked to think of an idea for a radio skit. This is where Mrs Browne (later to drop the 'e') was bo My mother loves Mrs Browns Boys so I wasnt surprised when she told me I needed to read this autobiography on Brendan's career. The book initially tells the story of Brendans childhood and the strong bond he had with his Mammy. It then goes on to tell of all of the job opportunities he takes (and some that he wishes he didnt take). The story really starts to show direction when on-the-fly Brendan is asked to think of an idea for a radio skit. This is where Mrs Browne (later to drop the 'e') was born. This fictional character, who is every bit as sassy as his own mother, would eventually turn Brendans world up side down. Filled with wonderful people, this book lets you see into the world of a budding actor/producer/writer. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the show. I think I might go watch an episode of this show myself :)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gerard Reilly

    Very interesting family life. I always find it so refreshing to read a biography about some “superstar” celebrity who isn’t too impressed with their celebrity status. I’m sure his family upbringing will bring lots of connecting memories to many who grew up within the same confines. It seems to me that growing up without too much, and having a solid moral compass, leads to an adult who can really appreciate the things that really matter in a happy, decent life. (And obviously recognize, and point o Very interesting family life. I always find it so refreshing to read a biography about some “superstar” celebrity who isn’t too impressed with their celebrity status. I’m sure his family upbringing will bring lots of connecting memories to many who grew up within the same confines. It seems to me that growing up without too much, and having a solid moral compass, leads to an adult who can really appreciate the things that really matter in a happy, decent life. (And obviously recognize, and point out, all the shite that doesn’t matter.) GREAT READ.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jim affleck

    Cleverly written autobiography. Having just read Lee Jack's autobiography, I found myself slightly disappointed with Brendan's. There was nothing wrong with content, but because it was written in the third person style, it did feel as though it lacked that very special personal touch. That is only my opinion though, and I feel sure Mrs Brown's fan base will not be disappointed to learn much more about the man himself, behind the much loved comedy face. Cleverly written autobiography. Having just read Lee Jack's autobiography, I found myself slightly disappointed with Brendan's. There was nothing wrong with content, but because it was written in the third person style, it did feel as though it lacked that very special personal touch. That is only my opinion though, and I feel sure Mrs Brown's fan base will not be disappointed to learn much more about the man himself, behind the much loved comedy face.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Loved every page, not normally a biography fan, but was interested in reading about the mind behind Mrs Brown. So pleased I did, he has had a really interesting life so far and the reason for the 5 * review - I love how it's his positive mental attitude that has helped him through out all his life and now brought him success too. Loved every page, not normally a biography fan, but was interested in reading about the mind behind Mrs Brown. So pleased I did, he has had a really interesting life so far and the reason for the 5 * review - I love how it's his positive mental attitude that has helped him through out all his life and now brought him success too.

  15. 4 out of 5

    A P Howard Pm P

    A great lesson in the harder you work the luckier you get. With laughs A well written autobiography which kept me turning pages and making me irritable if I had to leave it to do ,stuff,! With humour and pathos it paints a wonderful picture of a brilliant comedian and his years of struggle to achieve overnight success.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Darla Ebert

    An interesting read. I was hoping for a bit more substance as far as background, information about the author's growing up years. There was some, but maybe I was expecting too much, wanting the book to be a memoir of things past when the author focused more on events leading up to his (very talented) personification of Mrs. Brown. Still, a fast, enjoyable and easy read. An interesting read. I was hoping for a bit more substance as far as background, information about the author's growing up years. There was some, but maybe I was expecting too much, wanting the book to be a memoir of things past when the author focused more on events leading up to his (very talented) personification of Mrs. Brown. Still, a fast, enjoyable and easy read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    stephen smitten

    Would have preferred if Brendon had written it himself. The book was quite good, not the best autobiography I have read, I skipped a bit in the middle regarding Brandon's problems with different ventures as it was a bit long winded. But I read it to the end. Would have preferred if Brendon had written it himself. The book was quite good, not the best autobiography I have read, I skipped a bit in the middle regarding Brandon's problems with different ventures as it was a bit long winded. But I read it to the end.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kylie

    It had moments of brilliance then lots of ‘yawn’ moments. Maybe one day I’ll finish the last 1/3. Probably not.

  19. 5 out of 5

    tammy harris

    Great If you are a fan of the show in sure you will enjoy reading this. Great insight to the man behind Mrs Brown

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    I loved it. A very good read and very funny

  21. 5 out of 5

    Indya

    To this day, I have not read a biography/autobiography/memoir/etc that I have not liked. I love getting an inside look at people's lives, especially their pasts. I love knowing what people have been through in order to get where they are. I love Mrs. Brown's Boys. There are not many TV shows that I will bother to buy on DVD (partly because of my short attention span, partly because I don't like re-watching something I've already watched, unless I LOVE it), but I own all the seasons Mrs. Brown's To this day, I have not read a biography/autobiography/memoir/etc that I have not liked. I love getting an inside look at people's lives, especially their pasts. I love knowing what people have been through in order to get where they are. I love Mrs. Brown's Boys. There are not many TV shows that I will bother to buy on DVD (partly because of my short attention span, partly because I don't like re-watching something I've already watched, unless I LOVE it), but I own all the seasons Mrs. Brown's Boys, plus the Christmas specials. Comedy is a wonderful thing that I have appreciated since I was young. People often shrug off comedians because they're not "serious", but those people don't realise how great a thing laughter truly is. When something makes you laugh, it transports you to another place. It's able to distract your mind, even if only for a few moments, and for someone whose mind is always full speed ahead, it's a wonderfully feeling. People underestimate the feeling of not thinking, and just enjoying, and that's what comedy can do. So of course I was going to read about the backstory of this hilarious man, and I'm so glad I did. He has lived an incredibly rich life, well before he made his millions. He is such a genuine person with a big heart, who loves his family and friends more than anything else, and most definitely deserves everything he has worked so hard, and so long, to achieve. But alas, putting my biased opinion of how great Mrs. Brown's Boys is aside, I do believe this book would interest anyone who enjoys reading biographies, having a few laughs, and learning about how a man who was once too poor to even go to secondary school, grew up to be one the most famous comedians of the 21st century.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    If you have ever seen the television programme, “Mrs Brown’s Boys, (it’s a man dressed up as a woman for goodness sake!) you may have wondered about Brendan O’Carroll – I mean really, that sort of comedy is old-school, very unsophisticated compared to today’s humour. But actually O’Carroll is a bit of a surprise and funnily enough “Mrs Brown’s Boys” has been enormously successful. The youngest of eleven children, O’Carroll left school at age 12 to work. The family was very poor, his father having If you have ever seen the television programme, “Mrs Brown’s Boys, (it’s a man dressed up as a woman for goodness sake!) you may have wondered about Brendan O’Carroll – I mean really, that sort of comedy is old-school, very unsophisticated compared to today’s humour. But actually O’Carroll is a bit of a surprise and funnily enough “Mrs Brown’s Boys” has been enormously successful. The youngest of eleven children, O’Carroll left school at age 12 to work. The family was very poor, his father having died at an early age. O’Carroll’s mother, a former nun and the first woman to be elected to the Irish parliament, was a huge influence on him. In fact she is the inspiration behind the Agnes Brown character. “Mrs Brown’s Boys” started out as a 5 minute slot on the radio. From there, O’Carroll developed the character, creating 3 best-selling novels about her and her family. This led to a stage show which toured around Ireland, Scotland, and part of the US during the late 1990s. The show was then televised and now there is a movie. It is purely by chance that O’Carroll ended up playing the Mammy – the woman who was going to do it refused to work weekends so Brendan stepped in at the last minute – and there he’s been ever since. And it is very much a family show – O’Carroll’s friends and family make up the entire cast. The popularity of the Agnes Brown character is not because she’s a man dressed as a woman, it’s more that ‘Agnes’ has is a little bit of everyone’s ‘mammy’ inside her.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Louise Armstrong

    I enjoyed this book, and I liked the way the author's contribution matched seamlessly with the biography. It was more interesting than many biogs & gave a reasonably clear picture with enough information to make it worthwhile. I was fascinated by the encounter with a medium. O'Carroll went to a medium who told him truly convincing details (not just cold-reading or lures that bring out information that is then used). He was so impressed he got other people to visit her - only to find that all who I enjoyed this book, and I liked the way the author's contribution matched seamlessly with the biography. It was more interesting than many biogs & gave a reasonably clear picture with enough information to make it worthwhile. I was fascinated by the encounter with a medium. O'Carroll went to a medium who told him truly convincing details (not just cold-reading or lures that bring out information that is then used). He was so impressed he got other people to visit her - only to find that all who went to see her experienced bad luck for 5 years afterwards. He was told later by a gypsy that the 'curse' that had been laid on him was nearly over. This is mentioned, but not explored in any detail. I think authentic supernatural encounters often go this way - people seem to recoil from them, like having an electric shock. It's too spooky. It doesn't make sense. There's a feeling of breaking taboos and bringing bad luck and let's not talk about it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    A remarkable book about a remarkable man. Brendan O'Carroll has had such a busy life, not only keeping himself in work but many of his family and friends. I hadn't realised that Mrs Brown and Brendan O'Carroll were one and the same when I saw the tv series. I had read his books a couple of years ago and loved them. The book itself is an easy read, you feel like you are inside the family in the way it was written. Congratulations to the author and thank you for a brilliant read. A remarkable book about a remarkable man. Brendan O'Carroll has had such a busy life, not only keeping himself in work but many of his family and friends. I hadn't realised that Mrs Brown and Brendan O'Carroll were one and the same when I saw the tv series. I had read his books a couple of years ago and loved them. The book itself is an easy read, you feel like you are inside the family in the way it was written. Congratulations to the author and thank you for a brilliant read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sudakshina Bhattacharjee

    I don't usually read biographies, unless they are on people I really have immense admiration for. Brendan O'Carroll is one of them and my, oh my, what a life he's had! His comedy has struck chords in audiences not just in Britain, but around the world. Not bad for a man who emanated from humble beginnings. I don't usually read biographies, unless they are on people I really have immense admiration for. Brendan O'Carroll is one of them and my, oh my, what a life he's had! His comedy has struck chords in audiences not just in Britain, but around the world. Not bad for a man who emanated from humble beginnings.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leila

    Loved it! Brendan has gone through some very hard times to reach the top as a much loved comedian. He has never given up through all the set backs. He's a fighter. I found his story extremely interesting and heart warming too. I know it is often said in reviews but I have to say it too - "I couldn't put this book down" Recommended! Loved it! Brendan has gone through some very hard times to reach the top as a much loved comedian. He has never given up through all the set backs. He's a fighter. I found his story extremely interesting and heart warming too. I know it is often said in reviews but I have to say it too - "I couldn't put this book down" Recommended!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Fiona Wilson

    I absolutely loved this book. An insight into the life of a truly remarkable man. He is the most generous man I have read about in a long time, he looks after his friends, his family is THE most important thing to him. That includes not only his actual family, but his TV family too. A brilliant read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Mcfall

    Feck me! What a life Brendan has lived - it reads more like fiction than biography at points. He's come through a lot to become the man (and woman) we know and love today. Very interesting read from page one! Feck me! What a life Brendan has lived - it reads more like fiction than biography at points. He's come through a lot to become the man (and woman) we know and love today. Very interesting read from page one!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Loved this book what can I say it's full of ups and downs comedy and turmoil which has lend Brendan on the path to giving us the best loved mammy from Dublin! Whilst at the start when he's talking about his mammy I can just picture mrs brown well worth a read. Loved this book what can I say it's full of ups and downs comedy and turmoil which has lend Brendan on the path to giving us the best loved mammy from Dublin! Whilst at the start when he's talking about his mammy I can just picture mrs brown well worth a read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Gordon

    what an insightful book, everytime Brendan was knocked down and there were many times he got back up and faced the world, interesting, funny and thought provoking, enjoyed being transported into a different life that wasn't as easy as you might think. what an insightful book, everytime Brendan was knocked down and there were many times he got back up and faced the world, interesting, funny and thought provoking, enjoyed being transported into a different life that wasn't as easy as you might think.

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