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TV review: Mrs Brown's Boys character given new identity in Christmas special

Mrs Brown's Boys was one of the viewed shows of Christmas Day this year. Picture by Alan Peebles/ BBC

Mrs Brown's Boys, BBC One, Monday, 10pm

IT wasn't just Doctor Who getting a new look this Christmas.

A big reveal was also played out in the Christmas night special of Mrs Brown's Boys.

The slapstick comedy gave one of the show's most loveable characters a change of identity and helped propel the festive episode to become one of the most viewed shows of Christmas Day this year.

Apart from the Paradise Papers controversy surrounding several actors in the show, one of the other biggest troubles to hit creator Brendan O'Carroll this year has been how to replace Rory, his gay son in the sitcom.

Since long-standing actor Rory Cowan's shock announcement a few months back that he was leaving the show, O'Carroll, who plays Agnes Brown, has had his thinking cap on in terms of how to substitute this key member of the cast.

And in true Mrs Brown style, the show came up with a hilarious plastic surgery storyline to reveal how Cowan will be replaced.

With Rory undergoing the facial cosmetic procedure, the Christmas caper leads up to the final unwrapping of his bandages to reveal a new actor to play the character - little-known Damian McKiernan.

And while the other characters fail to see any difference as the bandages come off, it's his mother who is the only one to notice a change.

''I suppose the main thing is that Rory is whomever he wants to be,'' she says.

''That takes confidence, and confidence is very important. He gets that from his mother," she quips.

But it might be a while before the new Rory works his magic on me if his first few lines are anything to go by.

While the former snooker player turned actor actually hadn't much to say in the Christmas episode, from my point of view he didn't make much of an impression.

Let's hope he can bring some (and even a tad more) of the old Rory magic to the show soon.

***

Snow Bears, BBC One, Tuesday, 6.30pm

Watching the 400-mile trek of two polar bear cubs and their mother may not be the most exciting Christmas viewing for everyone.

But for me, a random turn of the TV channel to this programme saw an encounter with three creatures that was both fascinating and enchanting.

Narrated by actress Kate Winslet, the journey from their birth den in Svalbard to the pack ice surrounding the North Pole has both highs and lows that made the programme a must-see show.

Winslet whispered that it is a 'dramatised story based on the extraordinary adventures of nature's snow bears' and she had me hooked.

Yes, the polar bear family's epic 400-mile Arctic trek pulls on the heartstrings, it's heart-warming and fun-packed. But it's also insightful and shows the Arctic in its most beautiful form.

It's a journey of survival when the two young bears and their mother are forced to move when the arrival of spring sees the ice on their island vanish, and so too their main food source of seals.

As polar bears must follow their prey to the year-round pack ice in the far north, it's a voyage to survive.

It's dramatic as well as comical, with the three-month old cubs jumping on top of their mum to hitch a piggy-back lift when they become tired, just one glimpse of their playful nature.

It's a captivating account of the perilous journey by the polar bear family as they head in search of food and what better animals to be following over the Christmas period.

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