Father Ted writer unveils new Irish comedy to rival Mrs Brown's Boys

Graham Linehan says new comedy will be less 'pantomimey'

The UK has already succumbed to the anarchic humour of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. Now the BBC is set to launch The Walshes, a new sitcom about an oddball Dublin family, as the search for comedy gold is increasingly leading broadcasters to cross the Irish Sea.

Graham Linehan, the writer of Father Ted and The IT Crowd, has returned to his native Dublin with a new sitcom, produced in collaboration with Diet of Worms, an Irish comedy troupe whose work he discovered through a series of YouTube webisodes.

The Walshes, which airs on BBC4 next month, follows the fortunes of the loud but lovable Walsh family, who live in the fictional west Dublin suburb of Strollinstown.

Wife Carmel is the “typical Irish Mammy”, struggling to maintain order over her “eejit” taxi driver husband Tony, dimwitted son Rory and aspirational daughter Amy.

The series, also broadcast on RTÉ, follows hot on the heels of the Irish broadcaster’s success with Mrs. Brown’s Boys, Brendan O’Carroll’s madcap sitcom about a foul-mouthed Irish matriarch, which became the most-watched programme on Christmas Day 2013, with 9.4 million BBC1 viewers.

Linehan, who co-created Father Ted in 1995, said The Walshes was a more naturalistic show than the “pantomimey” Mrs. Brown’s Boys, whose broad slapstick divides critics.

“Irish people are very witty, funny people but often that is not represented on Irish television,” Linehan said. “Often it’s very bland so it’s nice to put that cynicism and wit into a show.”

Although The Walshes features archetypal Irish characters like the “Mammy” (Philippa Dunne) and her naïve son (Rory Connolly), even the “eejit” Tony can be “sharp as a tack” when the occasion demands, Linehan said.

Linehan declined to make comparisons with Mrs. Brown’s Boys, which is set to spawn a feature film, game show and an animated spin-off, earning creator O’Carroll £16 million.

“It (Mrs. Brown’s Boys) is more pantomimey but I haven’t actually seen it,” he said. “I think it’s more larger than life than what we’re trying to do. I was never really a big fan of Brendan’s in Dublin so it probably wouldn’t appeal to me. It’s an interesting phenomenon. I don’t expect a mass migration from their show to ours. We’re probably aiming at different audiences.”

YouTube has allowed new Irish comics to build an online audience, bypassing the traditional talent-spotting networks. The five-piece Diet of Worms uploaded five webisodes of their online sitcom, A Taste Of Home,  supposedly shot by the family uncle on a shaky video-camera.

Linehan was so impressed with the webisodes, he agreed to help turn the concept into a television series, adding structure and a story arcs to the characters. With the BBC onboard, he directed full-length episodes which retained the web version’s “naturalistic” visual style.

YouTube also helped launch The Hardy Bucks, an Irish mockumentary series, which began as an online improvisation and was commissioned by RTÉ. Universal  Studios backed a €300,000 feature film, following the characters on holiday abroad, which became a box office success in Ireland following its release last year.

Damo and Ivor, a comedy duo portraying a pair of Dublin stereotypes, won an RTÉ series after an online pop video for their song “Everybody's Drinkin'”, went viral.

Linehan said: “You see a lot of individual sketches online that are very good. When I saw the Diet of Worms episodes I thought I had better pay attention as they were too good to ignore. They had a very strong visual comedy sense and strong characters. It’s unusual to find both in clips made by amateurs.”

Three episodes of The Walshes will be shown on BBC4 next month, with the cast hoping that a full series of six will follow. The BBC believes the “warm-hearted” comedy might ultimately repeat the success of The Royle Family.

The Diet of Worms troupe dismissed comparisons to the BBC’s current hit Irish sitcom. They had begun writing their series in 2010, a year before Mrs. Brown’s Boys had even aired, the comedy actors said.

Linehan, who co-wrote the cult sketch show Big Train with Arthur Mathews, called for a revival of the sketch series genre. He urged broadcasters to commission an “open house” show, giving young joke writers the chance to work with a team of established performers.

Linehan, 45, said he was inspired to write comedy as a child after watching the credits for the Alas Smith and Jones show and realising that anyone could send in material for submission.

Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform