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Diary: We went to BAFTA as fans - but we left as winners

Mrs Brown’s Boys team member Simon Carty on last night’s win: “The first hint that this might be our year came when the paparazzi on the red carpet told Ricky Gervais to make room for us…”

Simon Carty Specialist entertainment and media lawyer

LAST NIGHT, Mrs Brown’s Boys took the BAFTA for Best Sitcom – here, one of the team members writes his diary of the evening.

I SO WANTED to hear the words “…And the BAFTA for Best Situation Comedy goes to Mrs Brown’s Boy by Brendan O’Carroll…” that when I heard DCI Gene Hunt and his brother from Hustle made the announcement last night I was sure I had heard incorrectly and that I had just convinced myself we had won.

I told Brendan O’Carroll about this feeling late last night/early this morning and he said that when the award was announced he knew he had heard them correctly – but his worry was that he would run to the stage!

As usual Brendan remembered everybody and everybody made it to the stage to share in the amazing success of Mrs Brown’s Boys.

The show was also nominated last year for Best Sitcom and Brendan and his wife Jenny generously brought everyone to London to stay with them and accompany them to the BATFAs. They were wondering whether to do it or not this year but they knew what if – what if – they won a BAFTA. They wanted to share that with the team. While it is an honour to just be nominated we were a little disappointed not to win last year. Then two
weeks ago our wonderful and talented director Ben Kellet lost to something called “The X-Factor” in the craft BAFTAs.

Things were beginning to look ominous.

But this year was different.  With the Olympic spirit and Jubilee in the air it felt like this was the year fit for a queen and for one night that was going to be Mrs Brown.

This first hint that this might be our year became apparent when the paparazzi at the red carpet told Ricky Gervais to step aside to make room for Mrs Brown’s Boys.

“This win was the culminating journey for everyone”

And then the win! It’s not just for Brendan but for the aforementioned Ben Kellet; the visionary BBC producer Stephen McCrum; the legendary comic guru Paul Mayhew Archer; Mrs Brown’s Boys own Martin Delaney and the whole team – this win was the culminating journey for everyone.

It is hard not to get excited when you win but when surrounded by stars and heroes, the post awards dinner is a panic. Kissinger said that politics is showbiz for ugly people.   But believe me there are a lot of ugly people in showbiz and most of them are agents, lawyers and producers who last night formed a queue at Holly Willoughby’s table for a chat and a photo.

We got in the spirit not just as winners but as fans. Some of us went to meet Jennifer Saunders and her husband Ade Edmondson, who just in case he forgot, we happily reminded him he had been in the Young Ones. The Wire’s Dominic West (who won for his performance in an Appropriate Adult) told us about his time in Trinity – he and Dara O Briain went to college with most of us. And Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch graciously
posed for photos with everyone.

I spoke with the Hairy Bikers who told me about their diet (the Hairy Dieters?), the crew from the Great British Bake Off are just as much fun in real life, and we found out Keith Lemon of Celebrity Juice is a big fan of Mrs Brown’s Boys and the feeling is mutual by the way.

I spoke to another Irish winner, Andrew Scott (best supporting actor) who plays Moriarty in Sherlock.  He was very gracious as I became a blabbering fan and told him how much I loved his take on Moriarty and his performance was the best I have ever seen. As I talked more and Andrew looked like he wanted to call security.  All was fixed later when he joined some of us for a drink – we were winners but also the Irish contingent. Unfortunately the other Irish winner, Graham Norton (best entertainment performance), was away with the Eurovision.

“Not to be churlish but our Taoiseach rang Jedward to comiserate… but contacted none of the Irish BAFTA winners”

Ah, the Eurovision – not to be churlish but our Taoiseach rang Jedward to commiserate with them but he contacted none of the Irish winners at the BAFTAs last night, which is a little disappointing. There have been over a million DVDs of the first series sold in the last few months. When broadcast on BBC1 the series regularly gets over 8 million viewers and the series has been broadcast throughout the world. Versions of the series have been licensed to be remade in other countries.

The BAFTA clearly represents an acceptance of Mrs Brown’s Boys and Brendan, the most watched sitcom of the last year. On a personal level they mean more than that to me. Brendan has shown me never to give up and never stop believing in yourself. These are truisms at the best of times and worst of times but I have witnessed first-hand what it means to have faith in yourself and in the words of Mad Men’s Don Draper, to “keep moving forward”.

These are lessons that everyone could learn but Brendan and Mrs Brown’s Boys is not about strategy; no-one aimed to have the top rated BAFTA nominated BBC sitcom with a wildly successful sell-out live show. It would also be ridiculous to suggest it just happened. Brendan believed in himself, the show and the group and just kept moving forward bringing with him everyone who shared in Mrs Brown.

This makes it sound like a cult: it’s not. I am as cautious and cynical as anyone but Brendan who refused to be brought down by critics and begrudgers is one thing but when times were hard and money was tight and there was difficulties on every side he kept the ship afloat and in the direction it needed to go. Brendan did not chase the BBC; they approached him.

Last night belonged to Brendan O’Carroll. Without him there would be no Mrs Brown’s Boys and, no win or lose night at the BAFTAs and in typical fashion he brought everyone with him when he went up to the stage to collect the award.

Simon Carty is a solicitor and mediator who specialises in entertainment law and is a member of the Production Team for the BBC/RTÉ sit-com Mrs Brown’s Boys.

Read: Three Irish winners at last night’s BAFTAs>

About the author:

Simon Carty  / Specialist entertainment and media lawyer

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