Brendan O’Carroll to Receive the IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award for Comedy

The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) is delighted to announce that Brendan O’Carroll will be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Comedy at this year’s IFTA Gala Television Awards which will take place on Thursday 22nd October 2015.

Brendan follows in the footsteps of previous IFTA Academy Lifetime recipients such as Maureen O’Hara, David Kelly, George Morrison, Cathal O’Shannon, Neil Jordan, Morgan O’Sullivan, John Boorman, Gay Byrne, Niall Toibín, Fionnula Flanagan, President Michel D. Higgins and Jim Sheridan.

Brendan O’Carroll is being honoured for his outstanding achievement in Comedy and his incredible contribution, influence and leadership in the craft.  Comedy has always been at the heart of O’Carroll’s passion, writing and performance for the past three decades and he is widely considered an original comic voice and a pioneer of his craft.   

O’Carroll has crafted and honed his comedy skills from his early funny-man stand-up routines, to his development of the cheeky matriarch character that is Agnes Brown in the enormously popular television sitcom, Mrs. Brown's Boys that reaches 15.5 million viewers in the UK and now extensively tours Ireland, UK, Australia and the USA.   O’Carroll has also shown his creative versatility over the years across writing, acting, directing and producing in his journey to success; he has written seven novels, made four top-selling  videos, produced an international box office hit comedy Movie and a bestselling music record. 

Having tasted the rewards of his success, O’Carroll has not been left wanting in his support for local charities and also his ambition to support young upcoming Irish comedy writers and performers through the Learning Programme of events with the Irish Film & Television Academy.

The Lifetime Award will be presented to Brendan at the IFTA Gala Television Awards ceremony on Thursday night October 22nd with Gay Byrne leading a host of Irish and international guests paying tribute to Brendan for his outstanding achievements.  The ceremony will be broadcast on TV3 the following night on Friday 23rd October at 9pm.

Brendan O'Corrollon receiving the lifetime award "To receive such an accolade in my home town is sensational. I am proud to accept this award, especially when I see the list of those whom have already been so awarded.. including Jim Sheridan, whose work I so admire and who has done so much for young Irish actors, writers and indeed the whole industry. To be considered in that league is the premiership. Thank you IFTA"

Áine Moriarty CEO of the Irish Academy said:  “Brendan O’Carroll is quite simply a creative genius, his comedic style is accessible, immediate and outrageously funny.  You don’t need to be a Mrs Brown fan to recognise this man’s brilliance and his absolute skill and craft that is inspiring young Irish comedy writers and performers to find their own unique voice”.

Roddy Doyle who wrote ‘The Van’ which featured Brendan, said “Brendan has a universal quality, when he does something funny ... it’s funny, funny all over the world

Joe Duffy broadcaster said: “It’s hard to believe that a boy from Finglas has dominated the UK’s biggest night of the year ‘Christmas night’ every year.  It is an incredible achievement.

Angelica Huston who played the lead in Brendan’s film ‘Agnes Brown’ said: “Brendan O’Carroll is a born storyteller and a cross between Robin Williams and Billy Connelly

About Brendan O’Carroll

Brendan O’Carroll was born in 1955 in Finglas, in Dublin, the youngest of eleven children by Maureen, a Labour TD, and Gerard, a carpenter.   His family experienced much poverty and he left school at the age of 12 to start work (however in later years, it was discovered that Brendan has an IQ of 156 and he became a member of Mensa). 

The young O’Carroll had a string of occupations, including a waiter and milkman but it was comedy that eventually captured his attention.  Fascinated by Irish comedian Hal Roach, Brendan fastidiously studied his comedy stand-up routines and shortly thereafter got a job working for comic Brendan Grace as his personal assistant.

Displaying the characteristic tenacity and self-belief that would later make him a success, O’Carroll spent some time honing his craft in smaller gigs before he moved on to bigger shows – a veritable turning point in Brendan’s comedy career coming with his first appearance on Gay Byrne’sThe Late Late Show’ in 1992.  His comic appearance on the talk-show was received positively from the studio audience and viewers alike.   Shortly after, his first video ‘Live at the Tivoli’ went straight to Number One, beating out competition from the likes of U2 and Garth Brooks.

In the early nineties, O’Carroll invented his most successful character to date as Agnes Browne made her first appearance in the radio show Mrs Browne’s Boys, written by and starring Brendan, and the show was soon receiving high ratings on 2FM.

This success led to the creation of Agnes Browne as the central character in Brendan’s first novel The Mammy.  The book topped the bestseller charts in Ireland for months and was eventually made into the film Agnes Brown in 1999, directed by and starring Oscar winner Angelica Huston.  O’Carroll would go on to write six more novels including The Chisellers (1995), The Granny (1996), The Scrapper (originally published as "Sparrows Trap", 1997) and The Young Wan (2003). 

In 1994, the same year he wrote The Mammy, Brendan was voted Ireland’s No 1 Variety Entertainer at the National Entertainment Awards.  Memorable film appearances around this time include Roddy Doyle’s The Van (1996), Stephen Bradley’s Sweety Barrett (1998) and Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes (1999). He also had a small role in his own novel adaptation Agnes Brown and he wrote and directed Sparrow’s Trap (1998), an adaptation of his novel of the same name.

In 1996, Brendan again displayed his innate versatility and talent as a performer when he began presenting on television for the first time with his Saturday night RTÉ quiz show Hot Milk and Pepper, which ran until 1998.

UK television roles in the 2000’s include Max and Paddy’s Road To Nowhere, which co-starred Peter Kay and Paddy McGuinness.  He also had roles in the television movies The Fattest Man in Britain (2009) and The Security Men (2013), both of which were written by popular comic writers Jeff Pope and Caroline Aherne.

It was around this time that O’Carroll’s various theatre productions featuring Agnes Brown were starting to garner attention from television producers in the UK and, in 2011; his plays were adapted into a BBC television sitcom.

Initially broadcast in a quiet late evening slot, Mrs Brown's Boys became a huge word-of-mouth hit, and quickly moved to primetime.   Created by and starring O’Carroll in the lead role, Mrs Brown’s Boys also features his wife Jennifer Gibney, his sister Eilish, his son Danny and his daughter Fiona, and the show’s first series eventually pulled in an average audience of 3.6 million people in 2011.

The show found similar success in Ireland when it was initially broadcast in January 2011. Every episode aired won its timeslot for RTÉ, with an average viewership of 753,500.

The show went from strength to strength and by 2013, the show’s third season was attracting a massive average audience of 9.4 million people in the UK.

The show has also aired acclaimed Christmas specials since 2011 with the audience figures hitting a massive 15.5 million in 2013 in the UK.   In Ireland, the 2012 Christmas special was watched by 972,000 people which equated to a 47% audience share on the night.

The success of Mrs Brown's Boys TV Series is not just limited to the UK and Ireland however and the show has now aired in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Malta, New Zealand, Serbia, Sweden and Africa.

Mrs Brown's Boys TV Series DVD's have so far sold 900,000 copies in Australia.   In the UK, Universal have sold approx. 4.1 million units of all the various Mrs Brown's Boys TV DVD's and they are also releasing all the TV DVDs in the US and Canada in early November 2015.

The success of the series led to a film adaptation being released in 2014. Mrs Brown’s Boys D’ Movie made a record breaking €1.02m at the Irish box office after its first three days on release, and proved a hit with audiences worldwide too as it went on to make $28,840,379 on a budget of just £3.6 million.

Mrs Brown’s Boys has also proved popular with O’Carroll’s peers in the industry, both in Ireland and the UK, and the show has so far won a BAFTA Award for Best Situation Comedy, an IFTA Award for Best Television Programme, a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Comedy Entertainment Programme as well as a Writers Guild Of Great Britain British Comedy Award, among many other accolades.

To celebrate this Lifetime Achievement Award, Mr O’Carroll will be joined at the IFTA ceremony on October 22nd by family, friends and colleagues from the world of comedy and television.

The IFTA Gala Television Awards will take place at the Double Tree Ballroom on Thursday 22nd October 2015, with the show being broadcast on TV3 at 9pm on Friday 23rd October.

View full list of Nominees 2015