The Broons
The Broons
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Crivens! Help ma boab!  The Broons, Scotland’s most famous fictional family – Maw, Paw, Maggie, Hen, Joe, Daphne, Horace, the twins and the Bairn (not forgetting Grandpa), who live in a tenement flat at 10 Glebe Street in the fictional town of Auchenshoogle – are set to tread the boards for the first time in a play by Rob Drummond at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal this month. 


For our American cousins perhaps not altogether au fait with the Broons, this is a long-running comic strip published weekly by the fabled D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd. in the Scottish Sunday Post newspaper with a book collecting the strips being published every two years or so (And it really is long-running, first appearing in 1936, it’s characters are older than Batman and Superman). 


The original writer/artist was the great Dudley D. Watkins – who also created the neighbouring comic strip of ‘Oor Wullie’, and also several characters in ‘The Dandy’ – but he died in the late 60s and since then a series of writers and artists have continued the strip in exactly the same style (there have been no Frank Miller-type Dark Knight re-imaginings of the Broons, though it’s an intriguing thought).


Each Christmas growing up as a kid, it was alternate annuals of The Broons or Oor Wullie (which I preferred). And I can guarantee you that one (or all) of the four standard Broons storylines will be played out on the stage:


1. “The Bairn overhears something”. Simple but versatile, the youngest of the brood overhears someone talking about one of the clan (usually Grandpa Broon), gets the wrong end of the stick, mobilises panic-stricken family members until it all sorts itself out. Key phrase: “Ha ha! My wee lamb!”


2. “Paw is mean”: Paw Broon tries to save money in a ridiculous way while lecturing the rest of the family on their spendthrift ways. He always comes a cropper and ends up spending more to get less. Key phrase: “Auld Skinflint.”


3. “The But and Ben”: All 11 Broons decamp for a holiday in a two-room house in the Scottish countryside. Key phrase: “Look at that teuchter!


4. “The Broons vs Modern Life”: A member of the family will enthuse about a new trend or technology, such as electric shavers or computer games, only for the Broons to put their own stamp on it. In this year’s book, Grandpa Broon comes up with a mince & tatties smoothie, the idea of which is making me feel a bit queasy as I type. Key phrase: “Now that’s what I call a –insert technology name-!”


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