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'Covid wreaked havoc on Mrs Brown's Christmas' - Brendan

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Brendan O’Carroll said filming was ‘laborious’

Brendan O’Carroll said filming was ‘laborious’

Brendan O’Carroll said filming was ‘laborious’

Comedian Brendan O'Carroll has described how "laborious" it was filming the two Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas specials because of the BBC's strict health and safety rules.

The BAFTA-winning star and his wife, Jennifer Gibney, flew from their home in Florida to film the festive episodes at the BBC studios in Glasgow.

But he said making the 30-minute episodes was extra tough due to Covid-19.

"One of the things that stands out blaringly was one of the BBC guidelines - and we had 42 people between crew and cast - that if one person tests positive, the show stops, the whole thing would be closed down," he told the Herald.

"That meant there would be no show.

"We could be in the middle of a scene and someone would yell 'cut' and point out that two of the cameramen had come within a certain distance of each other.

"They would have to be separated and we would have to do the scene all over again.

"Then they'd have to re-choreograph the cameras so they didn't come close to each other.

"Then there had to be checks on the set because we'd have been halfway through the scene, we'd have to leave completely and the guys would come in and spray it down."

Separated

The creator of the hit series had eight coronavirus tests during his time making the two shows.

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Brendan O'Carroll with Danny O’Carroll and Jenny Gibney. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Brendan O'Carroll with Danny O’Carroll and Jenny Gibney. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Colin Keegan

Brendan O'Carroll with Danny O’Carroll and Jenny Gibney. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

At one point, filming had to be suspended after a Covid-19 scare on-set.

"We were lucky that we got through it," he said.

"What would usually be a two-hour recording to get your 30-minute show was a 12-hour day, and it was quite laborious.

"We were in the middle of one rehearsal and we had got tested the day before and we were waiting for the tests to come back. Eight of them, including my own, were 'inconclusive'.

"Everybody was immediately sent to their dressing room and locked in.

"We had to wait and be retested, and it all came back negative."

O'Carroll said there was an emotional moment when the two episodes were finally completed.

"I nearly cried when we finished the final scene and they said, 'That's it; we're done'. I got such a sense of achievement.

"I went 'there's going to be a Mrs Brown's on Christmas Day' and it was a weird feeling," he said.

"People really need a laugh at the end of 2020."

Airing on RTÉ and BBC on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, O'Carroll said there will be a "different" feel to the two shows this year but all the usual characters will be returning as viewers see how Mrs Brown and her crew are coping with life under lockdown.

Earnings

O'Carroll and his wife are keeping to their tradition of giving out Christmas Day dinners to disadvantaged families, as they do every year with St Vincent de Paul.

This year, they will help 2,482 families, who will each receive a Christmas card from Mrs Brown and a credit card to buy a turkey to feed seven people, a ham, a bottle of wine and treats for the kids.

"We've had no earnings this year, but we knew we had committed ourselves to doing it and it's going to be the same this year," he said.


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