Brendan O’Carroll: ‘A fortune teller told me I’d be successful’

Brendan O’Carroll: ‘A fortune teller told me I’d be successful’

Mrs Brown’s Boys star and creator Brendan O’Carroll tells Nemesha Balasundaram how a trip to a London helped put him on the path to future success….

It’s a really weird one. I went to this fortune teller by accident. I’ve never been to one before and I’ve never been to one since. I just happened to be in London where I was due to have a meeting. I booked an APEX flight, it was a cheap fair but you had to book it a month in advance and you lost the flight if you didn’t take it.

The meeting was nothing to do with show business, I was in the bar business at the time and it was a band I knew and I was trying to get them some help. It was with a fellow called Bruce White, he’s passed away now. I had a meeting with him to do with the band, but he had to cancel the meeting until the next day. I couldn’t cancel my ticket so I had to fly over. When you have no money in London for a day it’s a pissy place to be.

So, I got off the plane and just to let him know I’d arrived I took my wallet out and the old phone card to ring him, and as I pulled the phone card out a business card fell out. I put my foot on it as I was on the phone to him [Bruce], I said ‘I’m here.’ He said, ‘we’re not meeting till tomorrow but you’re here so I’d like to see you for dinner tonight.’

So we arrange to meet for dinner and once I’d hung up the phone and picked up the business card and it was a business card from an old hotel that I used to work in as a head waiter. I flipped it over and it was a woman’s name and a phone number on the back of it, and I thought, ‘what am I doing with that?’

And then I remembered, I had been in the hotel for a drink after I’d stopped working there, and the owner came down to see me and said, ‘hey Brendan, you’re sister she likes these mediums and fortune tellers doesn’t she?’ I said, ‘yeah.’ She said she’d met a great one and wrote the number down on the back of a business card and said next time you’re in London give that to your sister [who lived in London].

I put it back in my wallet and thought, I’ve never been to one of these, I must ring and see if she has any time or space today. So, I call her, she lived in Northolt, which was just around the corner from Heathrow. She said, ‘I was booked up, but would you believe I’ve got two spots that have been cancelled.’ So I went down to see her, and remember I’m a complete sceptic, and went in. She said, ‘I can tell by your accent that you’re Irish.’ ‘I only just got off the flight,’ I said.

She said, ‘you must be gasping for a cup of tea.’ As she was making the tea I said ‘this is a lovely place, it’s nothing like where I come from.’ She said, ‘don’t tell me too much, I don’t want you to go in there and then come out thinking I told her too much.’

So, we went in and sat down and she went through a couple of things that made me f****** hairs pin back. The first thing that surprised me was there was only two chairs in the room, it was a council house. What surprised me was that there were pictures of the Virgin Mary and Crucifixes, I wasn’t expecting any religious aspect to it, I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe Voodoo dolls or whatever. So, that surprised me a little bit. She said, ‘If you don’t mind, before we start I’d like to say a little prayer.’

‘Out loud?’ I said. ‘No, no, just to myself,’ she said. So she put her head down, and it dawned on me, I hadn’t said a prayer in a long time. So, why don’t I say a little prayer that I don’t allow myself to be hood-winked here. So I said a little prayer to myself and thought to myself, I’m not going to help her but I’m not going to trick her either. If she says to me ‘you’re name begins with a B, I’ll say it doesn’t. But, if she says, your name is Brendan, I’ll say yeah it is, I’m not going to say no. I’m not going to lie to her.’

So she started, and the first thing she said was, ‘I want to read you’re aura.’ I said, ‘ok, what’s that?’

She said, ‘everybody has an aura, they have an individual aura, it’s like a fingerprint, but a spiritual print. If you don’t mind I’m going to outline you’re body.’ I’m sitting there, she’s looking around me and says, ‘wow, you’ve only got one colour in your aura.’

I said, ‘is that unusual?’

She says, ‘yeah, you’ve got a golden aura. I’ve never seen one before.’

I said, ‘is that good or bad?’ She said, ‘I don’t know I’ve never seen one before.’

This was no f****** help to me. Then she said ‘close your eyes. There’s a line of people behind you who are dropping golden keys in your lap. I don’t know what you have coming to you but whatever it is, god you really deserve it. They’re all saying you deserve this.' She then went on to some other stuff about my family and it really pegged me up a little bit, then two things happened.

First one I would ride off for many years. She said, ‘I see a studio, a stage and a microphone. Amazing success.' I’m thinking the band, so I said, ‘yeah, I’m here to hopefully get a friend of mine who’s in a band, to get them away.’

‘No, no,’ she said. ‘You’re at the microphone.’

I said, ‘you’ve got that wrong I have no interest in that. I’m representing the band I don’t sing.’

‘No,’ she said, ‘it’s you. Do something for me, remember Glasgow. Remember Glasgow, it’ll change your life.’

I also took notes, I asked her if she minded. I know people that go to fortune tellers and they come out after an hour and in ten minutes they tell you what was said, and I’m wondering, ‘you’ve been there for an hour!’

I wanted to keep notes of what she said. As it was going on she’d say, ‘go away,’ she’d be talking to somebody over here and say, ‘go away. Please stop. I’m sorry but somebody wants to give a message to you. Does Chalky mean anything to you?’

‘I said no.’

She said, ‘are you sure because he’s convinced you’ll deliver the message.’

I said, ‘I don’t know any Chalky and I’m not taking any messages.’

She said, ‘will you take this message, he’s prepared to give you the message even if he thinks you won’t deliver it.’

I said, ‘I’m not taking any message for any spirit and carrying it around with me.’

She said, ‘please just write it down that’s all I’m asking you to do. The message says, ‘off course I’m proud of you, I’ve always been proud of you and I love you.’ ‘

She said, ‘he’s gone away so happy you have no idea.’

So, I thought nothing of it. I left a bit stunned and I said as I was leaving, maybe I’ll see you again. She said, 'you will.'

So I got a taxi to meet Bruce and his wife. I’m not a drinker but when I got the menu I was asked what I’d like to drink so I said a vodka and coke. I didn’t realise that I knocked it straight back once it came. I said to Bruce, ‘you know what I had a really unsettling experience today.’ And I started to tell him about it. I got to the message and told him about it and he said, ‘are you f****** winding me up?’

I said, ‘no, what do you mean?’

He said, ‘Chalky. I’m Bruce White. Chalky White was my dad.’

I said, ‘Bruce I know nothing. Does the message have any relevance?’

He said, ‘yes it does, my dad was in the printing business.’

Bruce was 19 years of age when he left school/college, and went into his dad’s printing business, but he didn’t want to be there. He wanted to be a music promoter, and he had started up managing a band part time, and some other bands. He was really into reggae music so he used to get the boat out to Jamaica and bring Desmond Decker and reggae bands back, and his label became a great success.

But, his dad wanted him to take over the printing business.

He [Bruce] said, ‘Brendan, I came into the printing business and my dad was still doing cold print, I brought the business into the twentieth century, I had the business flying. But I didn’t want to be in the business I wanted to be a promoter. The amount of printing materials I had I could have made my dad a multi-millionaire but he wouldn’t take one order off me. I bought a house just around the corner from my mum and dad, he didn’t ignore me but there was a cold war. One morning I got a call from my mum saying my dad had collapsed in the hall. I rushed over, he’d had a stroke. We’re waiting in the ambulance, and I looked into his eyes and said, ‘don’t you f****** die without telling me you’re proud of me.’ ’

And that was the message, and then I thought ok, I’m going to remember Glasgow.

And the first success we had was in Glasgow in the Pavillion Theatre. A representative from the BBC saw the play in Glasgow and when we made the TV series, it was with the BBC in Glasgow.

Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie opens in cinemas on Friday. See next Wednesday’s Irish Post for a full interview with Brendan O’Carroll