Mrs Brown’s Boys got the worst ratings for its Christmas episode in almost a decade this year.
The show, which aired on Christmas Day at 10pm, was watched by 3.8million viewers, a significant drop from the 11million who watched in 2013 and the 4.6million who tuned in last year.
Although the show has long been a TV favourite, it was beaten this year by the likes of Call The Midwife (5.4million) and the Strictly Christmas special (4.9million).
Viewership: Mrs Brown’s Boys got the worst ratings for its Christmas episode in almost a decade this year
According to The Sunday Telegraph, The Queen’s Speech was the most watched programme on December 25, pulling in an impressive 8.2million viewers.
While Mrs Brown’s Boys may have suffered a dip in the ratings, the BBC still have faith in the show’s future popularity.
It was recently revealed by The Irish Sun that the broadcaster has inked a deal with show creator Brendan O’Carroll which will see him create Christmas specials until 2026.
According to the Daily Star, some of the cast of the comedy series feared this year’s special would flop before it even aired.
Dip: The show, which aired on Christmas Day at 10pm, was watched by 3.8million viewers, a significant drop from the 11million who watched in 2013
A source said: ‘This is a nightmare for the BBC. It has signed up to air the show for another six years, but it is losing viewers in the millions.’
The BBC declined to comment on the show’s ratings when contacted by MailOnline.
It comes after the news that Brendan is now being sued by former co-star Gary Hollywood.
Gary, 41, who played Dino Doyle in the sitcom before quitting earlier this year, is suing Brendan, 65, for constructive dismissal and workplace discrimination.
He is also taking legal action against the BBC.
Getting legal: Meanwhile, Mrs Brown’s Boys creator Brendan O’Carroll [pictured] is being sued by former co-star Gary Hollywood
Gary told the Daily Star Sunday: ‘I feel I wasn’t being paid equally and I wasn’t being given an explanation for decisions.
‘When I tried to resolve it, nothing was done. I was just disregarded. But I won’t put up with it any more. I won’t be treated like that. This has gone too far. They shouldn’t do this to people.
‘I am taking legal action. The papers have been lodged for a tribunal and the process has now started.’
Gary claims he was paid less than his co-stars for spin-off show All Round To Mrs Brown’s and says he was dumped from a festive special after raising the issue.
Hitting back: Gary, 41, who played Dino Doyle in the sitcom before quitting earlier this year, is suing Brendan, 65, for constructive dismissal and workplace discrimination. He is also taking legal action against the BBC
He explained: ‘I hope this tribunal will mean people take responsibility. If there has been wrongdoing, I want people to admit that. I just want the truth.
‘I’m not a greedy person, but I want to be compensated for times when I haven’t been paid fairly.’
Gary added he was shocked that Brendan recently claimed their relationship was ‘amicable’ following Gary’s departure.
He said: ‘I was absolutely gobsmacked. I would have stayed quiet about all of this. Does he expect me to crawl into a corner and shut my mouth?’
This comes after a source close to Gary accused the show’s star Brendan of ‘lying’ about Gary’s shock exit from the series.
‘He’s LYING through his dentures!’ A source close to former-Mrs Brown’s Boys actor Gary has accused the show’s star of ‘lying’ about Gary’s shock exit from the series
A source told MailOnline earlier this month: ‘Brendan is lying through his dentures to save face and save the show.
‘To say Gary left the show to move to Lanzarote was so stupid and really insulting to Gary’s and the Mrs Brown’s fans.
‘They all know Gary has been living in Lanzarote since 2014 and regularly takes to social media to share snaps. He even hosts a weekly radio show on their main radio station, Monster Radio.
‘Brendan knows this but said it in the hope nobody will really notice, as he’s trying to be complimentary about Gary, by saying it was amicable. It was far from amicable.’
A source told MailOnline: ‘To say Gary left the show to move to Lanzarote was so stupid and really insulting to Gary’s and the Mrs Brown’s fans. They all know Gary has been living in Lanzarote since 2014!’
The source went on to claim the rest of the cast are ‘too scared to stand up to Brendan’ and that the show is in turmoil behind-the-scenes.
‘The future of the show is at stake here. While it does divide opinion, it’s extremely popular with a lot of people.
‘One of the reasons for it is because they appear to be a family not just on camera but off too. They’re all meant to be paid equally and they’re all meant to be one big happy family.
Behind the scenes it’s far from it. This has been brewing for a very long time and everyone saw it coming.
Cast: The source went on to claim the rest of the cast are ‘too scared to stand up to Brendan’
‘Of course brushing it under the carpet and trying to rewrite history isn’t going to help matters – but everyone’s too scared to stand up to Brendan for fear they’ll get the chop, just like Gary did.
‘Gary was much loved by the cast, crew and the fans alike. His character Dino was one of the show’s most popular and the fans are very upset to see him go.’
MailOnline has approached reps at the BBC and for Brendan for comment.
Brendan plays titular matriarch Agnes Brown and said during an interview with Dublin Live this month: ‘Some people claimed Gary left because of a row over money but it wasn’t true. They didn’t know the full story and it was amicable.’
Shock exit: The source claimed that the show is in turmoil behind-the-scenes
Brendan revealed that he bore the brunt of incessant online abuse after fans assumed Gary left due to the rumoured pay quarrel.
He added: ‘I got a lot of abuse over it on social media but I let it go over my head. Gary is a fabulous act and has worked with us on and off for over 20 years.
‘He decided he wanted to follow his own star and we are delighted for him.’
According to Brendan, his former co-star decided to move to Spain and start a new life with his family.
In October, following reports that Gary and another co-star, Damien McKiernan, quit over a pay dispute, MailOnline revealed that Gary was suffering from stress over the ordeal.
Trouble in Brown’s Boys paradise? Gary played the beloved hairdresser Dino Doyle
As well as the pandemic, Gary also tragically lost his brother who had two heart attacks.
This, and the crisis at his sitcom job, somewhat marred the fact that Gary welcomed a baby son Ollie this year, too.
Gary split from his wife Sharon Mudre in 2017 after 14 years of marriage, and they share two sons, Jack, 18, and Charlie, 16. He also has a son, Zachary, 20, from a prior relationship to his childhood sweetheart, Anne Haney. The actor has found love again with his wife of two years, Cherylanne, and they share a son, Oliver, who was born in March.
Shutting down the rumours: Brendan, 65, has insisted that his colleague left due to personal reasons and there is no bad blood between them
A source told MailOnline six weeks ago: ‘It’s more worrying for Gary as his brother Gerard passed away this year and he has a new baby.
‘Gerard died after having two heart attacks. It happened two months after the birth of Gary’s baby boy Ollie.
‘The whole point of Mrs Brown’s Boys is that they’re meant to be a family and all be paid equally regardless. It couldn’t be further from the truth!’
In addition, Damien – who plays Gary’s boyfriend on the show – liked a tweet from someone calling out show star Brendan.
Love: Gary has three sons, Jack, 18, and Charlie, 16, and Zachary, 20, from previous relationships in addition to a nine-month-old baby, Oliver, with his wife Cherylanne [pictured]
The tweet read: ‘This it is shocking the way [Brendan O’Carroll] has treated [Gary Hollywood]. Think Brendan has got too big for his boots! [sic]’
The longstanding BBC sitcom has been slammed for its backstage politics, with Damien, 54, and Gary said to have discovered they earn less than the rest of the cast – which is largely made up of star O’Carroll’s family.
An insider exclusively told MailOnline that the way the show is run behind-the-scenes makes for an unhappy work environment.
‘The show is very Upstairs/Downstairs, with a very clear divide between Brendan’s family and the few actual actors such as Gary and Damien,’ the insider said.
‘The family are all directors of the Mrs Brown’s production company and are always looked after.
Balancing act: Gary has had to deal with the tragic death of his brother this year, amid the arrival of a new baby son, Ollie [Gary is pictured with Ollie and his older son Zach]
Hitting back: Damien McKiernan – who plays Gary’s boyfriend on the show – liked a tweet from someone calling out show star
‘The BBC let Brendan do whatever he wants!’
As well as the dispute over money, Gary and Damien were also told they were not featuring in the 2020 Christmas specials.
A source told the Daily Star: ‘Gary and Damien were confused and hurt when they realised they were getting paid less than the others. When they raised the issue it did not go down very well.
‘Gary was later told he would only be appearing in one of this year’s Christmas specials. That was the last straw, so he told them he was quitting.
‘It was even worse news for Damien. He was simply told he is being written out. They are both heartbroken that things have turned out this way.’
‘In crisis’ The longstanding BBC sitcom has been slammed for its backstage politics
Although he has not disclosed his salary from the show, O’Carroll’s net worth was last calculated in 2013 when it was an astounding £9.98 million / €11 million.
In 2017, however, the stars of the show revealed how they were in debt in the early runs. But in 2019 it was reported that profits at a Brendan O’Carroll entertainment company almost doubled to £584,311 / €643,876 the year before.
The Irish Times reported then that accounts filed by BOC-PIX Ltd show O’Carroll and his wife, Jennifer Gibney, had garnered almost €2 million in dividends from the company over 2017-2018.
O’Carroll also makes much of his income from touring.
Mrs Brown’s Boys spawned from a short 1992 radio play by creator O’Carroll.
Snubbed: Damien and Gary play couple Dino and Rory, and were told they’re not featuring in the 2020 Christmas specials
He followed this with four books, with one of them being adapted into a 1999 movie starring Anjelica Huston.
O’Carroll then created a theatre company, Mrs. Browne’s Boys [with the ‘e’ in ‘Browne’ being removed at a later date], recruiting many of his family and friends.
O’Carroll dressed up in drag to play the titular Agnes Brown[e], after the actress meant to be playing her didn’t show up one night.
The stage show was eventually adapted into a sitcom, debuting in 2011; this generated further stage shows and a D-movie film.
Mrs Brown’s Boys follows loud-mouthed Irish matriarch Agnes, whose favourite pastime is meddling in the lives of her six children.
All Round To Mrs Brown’s: The spin off show on BBC One sees celebrity guests sit down with the Browns. It featured Caitlyn Jenner earlier this year [pictured]
The comedy is known for its slapstick humour, and breaking the fourth wall, with the characters engaging the audience. Outtakes are often left in the final edit for extra quirk.
Despite being universally panned by critics, the show is a ratings hit in Ireland, Britain, New Zealand, and Canada. It was recently revealed as a fan-favourite in Jamaica, too.
All Round To Mrs Brown’s is a spin off show on BBC One which sees celebrity guests sit down with the Browns. It featured Caitlyn Jenner earlier this year.
The sitcom’s live stage show tour had to be put on hold in 2020 amid the COVID-19 crisis.