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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
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
    and  

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

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference