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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

    Trena

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

  4. 5 out of 5

    Julie Chettle

    Interesting life story.

  5. 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!:)

  6. 5 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.

  7. 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!!

  8. 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 :)

  9. 4 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.

  10. 4 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.

  11. 5 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 4 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.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aileen

    I read to her. 2014. The Months and Dates are lost to me.

  15. 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

  16. 4 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.

  17. 5 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.

  18. 4 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!

  19. 5 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hayley Prior

    I absolutely loved this book. You think you know who he is but in actual fact Brendan has had it pretty tough....really is a rag to riches, laughs and tears all the way through, parts of it you can definitely hear Mrs brown coming through...."that's nice"

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lynda Prile

    That's nice!! This book is a tonic, from start to finish. It's nice to learn about how Brendan started out in life and all he has achieved . well done your mammy would be proud of you.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Denham

    Brilliant book that tells the story behind Mrs Brown. Well worth the read, I could hear Agnes Brown's voice every time she was mentioned.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Fiona Stewart

    What a fantastic read, really funny and a nice insight into the real Mrs Brown, cant wait to read the others now. If you want to have a good laugh out loud then this is a must read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Conor O'mahony

    Really interesting to read of the life story of this comedian and how many different careers and failures he had.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Derry

    I love Mrs Browns Boys so found this book fascinating -excellent and roll on Mrs Browns Boys De Movie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book was a great read. So much happened in Brendan's life and He has lead a very interesting life. This also includes great humour to the story.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jo Kitchen

    Surprising read. Enjoyed it more than I thought I would. What a nice chap that Brendan O'Carroll sounds! Family orientated and not money focussed.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Really enjoyed this book. Gave a very thorough insight of Brendan's life and was fairly easy to follow. Would definitely recommend to fans of Mrs Brown's boys.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Delyse Richards

    Having watched and loved the TV series Mrs Brown's Boys, I enjoyed reading Brendan's biography, his life in Ireland as a boy, and the ups and downs of his life associated with the stage.

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