Barry Cryer’s brutal take on Mrs Brown’s Boys: ‘No laughing matter!’

Barry Cryer's brutal take on Mrs Brown's Boys: 'No laughing matter!'

Barry Cryer, the legendary comedian, has sadly passed away aged 86. The performer’s family said he “died peacefully, in good spirits and with his family around him”. Tributes have already started flooding in for the star, with fellow comedian Stephen Fry tweeting: “Such sad news, one of the absolute greats of British comedy, Barry Cryer, is no more. “A glorious, gorgeous, hilarious and gifted writer and performer who straddled all the comic traditions. Universally beloved … farewell, Baz.” Mr Cryer was born in Yorkshire in 1935, and his career started as the bottom billing act at the Windmill theatre in London’s West End.

An illustrious career, highlights included writing for ‘The Morecambe and Wise Show’ in its heyday in the Seventies, and starring as a regular panellist on the BBC radio comedy programme ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’.

In 2013, the comedy legend offered his view on ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ and ‘Vicious’, handing out a dose of criticism over what he claimed was a lack of character development.

He said the writers were wrongly focused on making jokes, and told the Radio Times: “It’s a serious business writing comedy. You don’t necessarily need funny lines all the time. The key is to create characters.

“Characters people can identify with. But right now we’ve gone back at least 30 years in terms of format.

“We’re living in an era of back-to-basics sitcoms and it’s no laughing matter.

“From Vicious to Mrs Brown’s Boys to The Wright Way, the old-fashioned situation comedy is suddenly all the rage again.”

ITV’s ‘Vicious’ was a studio sitcom which revolved around ageing partners Freddie and Stuart, played by Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi.

On the show, Mr Cryer added that it should have been “fantastic” thanks to “two great actors”

However, he continued: “But it was insult, insult, insult every other line. You don’t believe in them.

READ MORE: Political correctness has erased golden age of TV says Barry Cryer

“You don’t like them, for a start. It was positively homophobic! It made John Inman look restrained.

“The great sitcom writers of the past didn’t think jokes were remotely important. Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, who wrote Hancock’s Half Hour and Steptoe and Son, knew that instinctively.

“Johnny Speight who created Alf Garnett never did jokes; he just wrote great characters.

“And for immaculate writing it would be hard to beat Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais’s Porridge.

“That show had a great gallery of characters and not a duff moment in any episode. That’s it. Great characters trapped in a situation.”

Mr Cryer admitted that he did like BBC shows ‘Miranda’ and ‘Rev’, but added: “It’s straightforward stuff: character, character, character.


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“You don’t need jokes, you don’t need funny lines.

“The humour will come because the secret to the truly funny sitcoms is simple – they are basically all about life.”

In 2018, writing in a column for, he argued that “political correctness” was compromising the world of comedy.

Noting his belief that people in the UK had stopped celebrating older shows such as ‘Allo ‘Allo!’, Mr Cryer wrote: “I don’t think the BBC and other broadcasters should be cautious about repeating the shows from British comedy’s golden age.

“Why not let the current generation see them? They might be horrified, but we should let them make up their own minds, then debate the issues.”

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