The comedy writer Graham Linehan has said categorically that he does want his new sitcom The Walshes (BBC Four, Thursday, 10pm) compared to Mrs Brown's Boys, so let's compare his new sitcom The Walshes to Mrs Brown's Boys.

It's funnier than Mrs Brown's Boys, definitely, and cleverer and wittier.

In fact, it's better than Mrs Brown's Boys in every way, apart from the fact that Mrs Brown's Boys stars a man dressed as a woman, which is hilarious, obviously.

Comparisons between the two sitcoms were always unavoidable from the start because both are set in Ireland and both of them have the classic Irish mammy as the central character.

Linehan, who created Father Ted and The IT crowd, says it's a character that's not well enough represented on television and he doesn't think a man in a dress is enough to fix that, which is a fair point.

And so he has offered us Carmel Walsh, a mum from Dublin played by Philippa Dunne, and what a horror/marvel, angel/devil she is.

At the start of the episode, her daughter Ciara is trying to have a candle-lit bath but Mrs Walsh isn't happy that the door is locked.

"What's the door closed for?" she says. "The door's locked. Are you all right? Is the light broken? No, it's working. What do you want the light off for when you're having a bath?"

All of this overbearing Irish motherliness is a cliché - the polite word is archetype - but Dunne plays her with monstrous, well-meaning determination, which takes it is close to the other Irish cliché: the possibly religious, possibly violent authority figure.

Carmel is a disturbing mixture of both: she will clutch you to her bosom for being good and slap you on your legs for being bad.

It's what parenthood was like in the 1970s in large parts of Ireland and Scotland, and it's no wonder we don't want to do it again to our own children. It was far too confusing.

Linehan has observed all of this perfectly, which makes The Walshes an interesting departure for him because he's not really an observational comedian.

Father Ted and The IT Crowd didn't observe anything about life - not really; they just make you laugh by being silly - but The Walshes contains a few good observations about the family, the main observation being that most families just don't get on but pretend they do.

There are a few similarities to Father Ted as well, particularly the character of the son Rory, who is Father Dougal all over again (which is a good thing).

Rory and Dougal both have the same view on the world, ie the view of a slightly slow mongrel: mouth open, tongue lolling, dim but 100% committed.

"What would you prefer?" he asks his dad Tony.

"A) not being able to go to the toilet for the rest of your life or B) only being able to go to the toilet for the rest of your life?"

And the answer is B obviously because of the constant relief factor.

"Never," says Tony, "turn your nose up at constant relief."