Mrs Browns Boys biggest scandals – co-star feud, pay row and devastating split

Mrs Browns Boys returns on Christmas Day with another festive special, following a spooky Halloween episode earlier this year.

Since the hit comedy arrived on our screens in 2011, it has spawned a feature film and over 11 million viewers watched the show at its peak.

However, more recent episodes have had much lower ratings, with only 3.6 million tuning in for the 2020 Christmas Special.

Mrs Browns Boys has also had its fair share of behind the scenes scandals in recent years too, and Daily Star has taken a look at some of the biggest, including pay row rumours, cast departures and a huge backlash following its 2020 win at the National Television Awards.

Co-star couple split after 15 years

Fiona O’Carroll split from her husband of 15 years Martin Delany, with who she co-starred with in the hit sitcom.

The acting pair play in-laws Maria Brown and Trevor Brown in the BBC comedy series started dating in their teens before tying the knot in 2006.

She revealed: "We wanted different things. I still have a lot of love for him and I only want the best for him and I think he feels the same way about me.

"There were no major fights, and nobody else was involved but it was a case of not being on the same page any longer."

Brendan O'Carroll sued

Mrs Brown's Boys actor Brendan O'Carroll was sued by former co-star Gary Hollywood, who played Dino Doyle.

Brendan faced claims of constructive dismissal and workplace discrimination after a row over pay.

Gary who quit the sitcom said: “I feel I wasn’t being paid equally and I wasn’t being given an explanation for decisions. When I tried to resolve it, nothing was done. I was just disregarded.

“But I won’t put up with it anymore. I won’t be ­treated like that. This has gone too far. They shouldn’t do this to people."

Gary was ­convinced he was paid less than his ­co-stars for spin-off show All Round To Mrs Brown’s.

He added: “I do feel there is bullying ­going on there because when that ­happens, you feel like you can’t speak up about stuff.

“I’ve known Brendan for 20 years. I very much looked at him as a mentor and I had a lot of respect for him. I always thought he had my back.

“But then the door shut and all I got from Brendan was a single text that said I was out of [a festive episode]. That hurt. Why did he not pick up the phone? This is ­extremely sad for me.

“This is a man who has been a father figure for me. I expected more. I was ­discarded."

Tax shame

Three members of the Mrs Browns Boys cast hit the headlines in 2017, when they were accused of 'diverting more than £2 million' into an offshore tax avoidance scheme.

The accusation was made as part of the Panorama Paradise Papers Leak, in which Martin Delany (Trevor Brown), Fiona Delany (Maria Brown) and Patrick Houlihan (Dermot Brown) were named.

In the papers, the three actors allegedly had their fees from Mrs Brown's Boys transferred to companies in Mauritius, before they received the money back in the form of a 'loan'.

It has since been confirmed that nothing they did was illegal, with cash was then sent to a trust set up by offshore law firm Appleby, with the trust taking 12.5 per cent.

Following the expose by Panorama, Mrs Browns Boys creator Brendan O'Carroll penned a letter to the BBC and explained that none of the cast had done anything wrong, and that they had always been upfront with viewers.

In the letter he said: "No-one involved with Mrs Brown’s Boys has done anything illegal. Everybody that featured in that show did what they did for completely different reasons.

"Paddy and Fiona wanted to regularise their income over a period of time so they could pay tax over a longer period of time."

Brendan also added that Fiona, who plays Mrs Brown's daughter Maria, was "left in tears" by the accusations, saying: "They scared the life out of her.

"Obviously I was angry. Fiona was in tears. I spent the whole day comforting her."

Pay row

Hairdresser Dino is one of Mrs Brown's Boys most beloved characters, but in 2020, actor Gary Hollywood quit the programme after 20 years of playing the character on screen and onstage.

It was reported that he and actor Damian McKiernan, who plays Rory, were furious when they discovered that they were paid less than their co-stars.

A source told Daily Star: "Gary and Damien were confused and hurt when they realised they were getting paid less than the others. When they raised the issue it did not go down very well.

"Gary was later told he would only be appearing in one of this year’s Christmas specials. That was the last straw, so he told them he was quitting.

"Co-stars including Jennifer Gibney tried to convince him to stay, but his mind is made up."

However, Brendan O' Carroll has since spoken out about the allegations that Gary Hollywood left because of a row over pay, saying instead that the decision to leave was "amicable."

He told Dublin Live: "Some people claimed Gary left because of a row over money but it wasn’t true. They didn’t know the full story and it was amicable."

Fan favourite quits the cast

A few years before Gary Hollywood left Mrs Brown's Boys, another longstanding fan favourite also quit the cast.

Rory Cowan played Mrs Brown's son Rory for over 26 years onstage and screen, but decided to leave in 2017 after he revealed he hadn't been happy for quite some time.

Despite accusations of a feud with other members of the cast, Rory said this couldn't be any further from the truth.

He told The Mirror: "I got tired of it, I haven’t been happy for the last two years working there.

"There was no row with Brendan, there was no dispute over money or anything, in fact quite the opposite, I got so well paid that it enabled me to be able to leave, I didn’t need to stay."

Rory also chose to leave the programme as his mother had become ill, with Brendan O' Carroll telling The Late Late Show in Ireland: "Rory’s mam has not been well for a long time and his life was around his mother.

"He worried about that. I was sorry to see him go."

Rory later paid tribute to his mum after she died in November 2018.

Swearing scandal

Anyone who has watched Mrs Browns Boys knows that Mammy certainly has some strong words to say at times.

However, writer and actor Brendan O' Carroll refused to tone down the swearing when asked to by BBC bosses in a meeting.

At a pre-screening of the 2018 Christmas specials, he told the audience that during a meeting with BBC boss Danny Cohen in 2018, he said: "You want me to stop saying 'f***' so you can put the show on at eight o'clock.

"The show is the show. Put it at eight o'clock, or put it on at half 10, put it on at half 12, the people who want to see it will find it.

"But the show is the show. I don't care when you put it on, we are not changing the show."

It is also reported that a number of US networks had asked if they could remake the programme in 2013, but requested that the swearing was removed, as US law states that certain words need to be bleeped out or not aired at all.

However, Brendan refused for the show to be changed, with actor Rory Cowan saying that he "sticks to his guns" and would not change anything about Mrs Browns Boys.

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