Does anyone remember Leave it to Mrs. O’Brien?
It’s Ironic I start this blog about British culture with an article on Irish TV! I live in Ireland, but through my good friend Matthew Coniam, he told me of his childhood recollections of a show on Channel 4, lunchtime filler from Ireland, a sitcom called Leave It to Mrs. O’Brien starring Anna Manahan (My Mammy, Clash of the Titans) as a Dublin housekeeper looking after some priests. Although it may sound like Father Ted, trust me, it ain’t. Written by a Dublin housewife, it is extremely rare and has never been released on DVD or video. It was shown on RTE Two from 1984 to 1986 at primetime, and was heavily criticised. I have never seen it, apart from a few clips that show why it hasn’t been repeated. It’s not very good. It is barely a comedy. RTE are much criticised in Ireland for comedy. Even Manahan, a stage legend and marvellous actress has trouble with the amateurish scripts. In the clips that I have seen, she can convey the eccentricities of the character in a big coat, but is clearly not helped by the ‘talents’ of fellow actors Pat Daly and Philip O’Sullivan. Humour seems to derive from someone singing badly or people sitting about, going mad. It at times resembles a Play for Today, a serious, tough ultra-dramatic thing about the doubts of Dublin priests in hiring an incompetent housekeeper. RTE did other series like Upwardly Mobile and the ridiculous Extra, Extra Read All About It (marketed as a drama, but with silly wigs and dancing in a newspaper office to the Sailor’s Hornpipe, not even the addition of acclaimed actor Norman Rodway from Orson Welles’ Chimes at Midnight could not save it), all of which were rubbish. Now, there are more comedies on RTE, but I shall speak of them later.