UNDAUNTED: In praise of Mrs Brown

Columnist Steve Daunt ditches his street cred to profess his admiration for Agnes

The fourth wall. It’s what any deep and meaningful drama student wants to break through. It's that invisible wall that's separating the audience from the actors. There’s nothing like seeing an audience jolted out of their complacency by an actor addressing them directly.

It is high art. All those mad young things pretending they're Bertolt Brecht or some other polo-neck-wearing ‘artist’.

When it comes to Television, we  only have to  think of Frank Underwood staring at us to know that, if used wisely, breaking the fourth wall can be quite chilling.

Or it could be used to show up how artificial making television is. How absurd it is, to coin a phrase.

Step forward Agnes Brown.

There now follows an admission that I am happy to make. I enjoy Mrs Brown’s Boys.

I remember the first time I saw Agnes. Yes, I saw the air turning blue as the double entendres added up. I knew we were back in the 1970s and yet I saw something more.

There was a live audience. That audience saw the flat screnery. Surprisingly the audience watching on the TV was allowed to see the shaky walls and when a line was fluffed, we saw the knowing look. It was this type of honesty that drew me into the show. I would go as far as using the word ‘sophisticated’ to describe it. The cast were having fun and it showed.

Cynics might say it is far too slick and packaged in order to maximise profits. That might be so.

I’m writing this the same week that Mrs Brown’s Boys was voted the Best Sitcom of the 21st Century in the UK. Yes, i know the competition wasn't exactly strong - I’m old. I like stuff like plots. And jokes - but Agnes ticks all the boxes for me. Don’t knock her. She’s our collective mammy. Remember how she voted yes?

There. I’ve outed myself and it feels great.

Thanks, Agnes.