The Royle Family
|The Royle Family|
The Royle Family title card
|Created by||Caroline Aherne
|Written by||Caroline Aherne
Henry Normal (1998)
Carmel Morgan (1999)
Phil Mealey (2006–present)
|Directed by||Mark Mylod
|Opening theme||Oasis: "Half the World Away"|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||25 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Andy Harries|
|Producer(s)||Glenn Wilhide (1998)
Kenton Allen (1999–2000)
John Rushton (2006–09)
|Running time||30–60 mins|
|Production company(s)||Granada Productions (1998–2008)
ITV Studios (2009-present)
|Original channel||BBC Two (1998)
BBC One (1999-present)
|Original airing||Original run:
14 September 1998 – 25 December 2000
29 October 2006 – present
The Royle Family is a British television sitcom produced by Granada Productions for the BBC, which ran for three series between 1998 and 2000, and specials from 2006 onwards. It is about the lives of a television-fixated Manchester family, the Royles.
The series features simple production values and a stereotypical portrayal of state benefit-dependent family life at the turn of the millennium. It therefore has something in common with kitchen sink drama. The scripts contain often banal conversations. Almost all of the episodes take place in the Royles' home; most centre on the telly-centric living room. The first series of the show was written by Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash, who also acted in it, along with poet and comedian Henry Normal.
In the second series Aherne and Cash were joined by Carmel Morgan, and finally the third series was written by Aherne and Cash alone. The series reunited Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston, who had previously played married couple Bobby and Sheila Grant in Brookside from 1982 until Tomlinson's departure in 1987.
In a list of the 100 greatest British television programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000 and voted on by industry professionals, The Royle Family was placed 31st. In a 2004 poll to find Britain's best sitcom, The Royle Family was placed 19th out of 100 nominations. The series has also won several BAFTA awards.
Most episodes appear to take place in real time and all action takes place within the Royles' home. (The passage of time as indicated by the changing programmes on the Royles' TV sometimes suggests that the action has been compressed.)
Unlike most sitcoms the show is filmed in 16mm film using the single camera production style. (Most UK sitcoms are shot on videotape using the multiple camera production style.) This and the absence of an audience or a laugh track gives the show a look and feel different from other sitcoms of the era.
The one-off specials take a more traditional sitcom structure, though many scenes still run longer than standard in line with the 'real time' nature of the original series. The 2006 special episode "The Queen Of Sheba" was partly set in a hospital. Its narrative moves forward in time in a more typical manner. 2008's Christmas special, "The New Sofa", is set over two days. In it the characters spend Christmas Eve in Royle household in the traditional manner (in front of the television), followed by Christmas Day at Dave and Denise's. Much of the 2009 Christmas special takes place in a caravan at a holiday park. It also features intermediate scenes of Dave driving Twiggy's car there. All of 2011 and 2012's Christmas special takes place at the Royle's house.
A total of 25 episodes of The Royle Family have been aired to date. The latest episode is entitled "Barbara's Old Ring" and was shown on 25 December 2012.
- Ricky Tomlinson as James Randolph "Jim" Royle
- Sardonic, lazy and grumpy, Jim is a slob who spends his days in his armchair watching the television and doing as little as possible. Jim has a short temper, and regularly berates his family, in particular Antony and his mother-in-law Norma, when not berating celebrities on television. Jim's outbursts are often accompanied by his mocking catchphrase, "my arse!" He is also a miser and enjoys announcing his visits to the lavatory, though on occasions shows a more understanding side, especially in moments when his family is in serious trouble. Since 2012, he and Barbara have been married for 53 years.
- Sue Johnston as Barbara Royle (née Speakman)
- Barbara is the long suffering wife of Jim. Barbara lives for her family, though her caring nature is often exploited by her selfish husband and daughter, who let her do almost everything for them. She is often shown to be more outwardly friendly, down to earth, supportive and respectful than her husband. Barbara worked part time at a bakery, and for a time was the only member of the family to have a job. The strain caused her to snap during series 2 and she stormed out. She is often forgetful. She and Denise chain smoke. Johnston and Tomlinson previously played a married couple, Sheila and Bobby Grant, in Liverpool based soap Brookside. Since 2012, she and Jim have been married for 53 years.
- Caroline Aherne as Denise Best (née Royle)
- The only daughter of Jim and Barbara, Denise is extremely lazy and obnoxious. Before she met Dave, Denise was engaged to a man named Stewart although she called off the engagement on their wedding day. She married Dave in the first series, and they have two children, Little David and Norma, though she rarely parents her children, instead passing duties on to everyone else. Jim also used to mock her for only serving her husband rudimentary dinners such as Dairylea cheese spread on toast and spaghetti hoops. Denise is known for pulling right back on a cigarette. She and Barbara love smoking and often fill the ash tray. Denise is usually nasty to her younger brother Antony, usually leaving him to babysit her children regularly and forcing him to making cups of tea for the family.
- Ralf Little as Antony James Royle (1998–2000, 2006–2010)
- Antony is the son of Jim and Barbara, and generally treated as a dogsbody by the family, ordered to do menial tasks such as answering the door, making cups of tea and babysitting Dave and Denise's children. He is the only member of the family (other than Barbara) who actually does any work in the house or otherwise. He is often mocked by Jim, Denise and Dave and is surprised when in one episode Denise sticks up for him followed by Jim showing him a great deal of warmth. Although originally unemployed with little prospects, it was revealed in the 2006 special that Antony had gone on to become a successful businessman and no longer lives in Manchester. He gets engaged to girlfriend Emma after she falls pregnant and they have a son named Lewis, but before the 2006 special they have separated and Antony has recently starting dating a girl named Sarah. In 2009 he is in a relationship with Saskia, who becomes pregnant in early 2010 and goes into labour on Christmas day after he has proposed.
- Craig Cash as David "Dave" Best
- Denise's boyfriend and later husband, Dave is generally quite dumb but is quite friendly and easygoing. He is often Jim's sidekick and he takes Jim's side when he is arguing with Barbara or Denise. Denise often takes advantage of Dave, leaving him to change nappies and care to their children when they get upset. Denise and Dave announced that she was pregnant, and she later gave birth to baby David, and later in the series, Denise announced she was pregnant again and she later had a baby girl, whom she called Norma after Barbara's mother. Dave previously dated Denise's enemy, Beverly Macca, and this is often brought up by Jim to annoy Denise.
- Liz Smith as Norma Jean Speakman (Nana) (1998–2000, 2006)
- Barbara's demanding elderly mother, called "Nana" by most of the family. Jim and Norma don't normally get on, as Jim often calls her names such as a "greedy old cow" when she didn't share her Revels with him. Norma often looks for sympathy from her family, repeating that she is the only living elderly woman in her block of flats, and she often hints to move in with the Royles. When her best friend Elsie dies, Jim and Norma argue because Norma goes from mourning to talking about Elsie's television and clothes. Norma eventually moved in with the Royles when her health rapidly declined, and she died in 2006 at the age of 90. When she died, Jim felt severely depressed because of how he feuded with Norma. Jim decided in a mark of respect to put her ashes on top of the television, a place where she will always be remembered.
- Jessica Hynes as Cheryl Carroll (1998–2000, 2006–2010)
- The daughter of Joe and Mary, and the best friend of Denise. Cheryl lives next door to the Royles and constantly battles with her weight, going from one unsuccessful diet to the next.Jim, Dave and Antony often tease her about her weight behind her back. She enjoys looking after Denise's children, a situation Denise takes advantage of. Cheryl is portrayed as unlucky in love, though she has a relationship with Twiggy between the 2006 and 2008 episodes. At Christmas 2010, Cheryl revealed she had been dating a homeless person called "Spamhead" who stole her father's savings before leaving her.
- Doreen Keogh as Mary Carroll (1998–2000, 2006)
- Mary lives next door to the Royles with her husband Joe and daughter Cheryl. She hails from Ireland and is portrayed as a chatty busybody (in direct contrast to her husband). She last appears in the 2006 special, and by Christmas 2009 her health has deteriorated and she suffers from severe incontinence. By the 2010 Christmas special Mary had died.
- Peter Martin as Joe Carroll
- Joe is the husband of Mary and father of Cheryl. Joe is very shy, a regular source of mocking by Jim and Antony, though after a few drinks he generally becomes more social, and has on a couple of occasions proven to be a talented singer. He also appears to be a lot more talkative and comfortable in Mary's absence. After Mary's death he carries her ashes around with him and talks of her constantly, and decides to move house before Cheryl convinces him to remain.
- Geoffrey Hughes as Twiggy (1998–2000, 2006–2008)
- Twiggy is a longtime family friend of the Royles, and regularly visits, usually with rip-off materials or stolen goods to sell on. He has been in prison, and fathered at least two sons, and later dated Cheryl, though the relationship didn't last. Twiggy sees prison as a holiday and describes it as 'recharging the old batteries'. Twiggy's criminal tendencies become more serious as the series progresses, at first he sells knock-offs then in The New Sofa, he appears at Denise's house with spirit bottles he got half empty out of his house, he could have got more if his dog didn't start barking. Twiggy's last appearence was in the 2008 christmas special following Geoffrey Hughes death in 2012.
- Andrew Whyment as Darren Sinclair-Jones (1999–2000)
- Darren is friends with Antony in series 2 and 3. Darren is portrayed to be dumb, uneducated and of a laid back demeanour. Darren often feigns laughter at Jim's jokes in an attempt to gain his approval. Like Twiggy, Darren is light-fingered and has been sacked from every job he's had for stealing. His brothers are all in prison, his father is an alcoholic who never leaves the pub and his mother (when not in hospital with her failing health) lives with Darren in a house where the bailiffs have taken all the furniture. During Christmas 2000, Antony and Emma ask Darren to be godfather to their unborn child.
- Sheridan Smith as Emma Kavanagh (1999–2000)
- Emma is Antony's first girlfriend. She first appears in the series 2 finale, after being mentioned several times in earlier episodes. Emma comes from a well-off family, but gets on well with the Royles. In the series 3 finale, Antony announces his engagement to Emma, which leads Jim and Barbara to assume that Emma is pregnant. In the 2000 Christmas special, Emma's arrogant parents, Roger and Valerie, meet Jim and Barbara for the first time. Emma does not appear in the 2006 special, by which time she has separated from Antony. Antony and Emma continue to share custody of their son, Lewis, who appears in the 2006 special.
- Joanne Froggatt as Saskia (2010)
- Saskia is the girlfriend of Antony, who is mentioned in the 2009 Christmas special and first appears at Christmas 2010. She is an A&E nurse and is heavily pregnant when she first appears. The Royles have a high level of interest in Saskia and have no respect for her privacy, for example they read her diary and look through her clothes. In 2009 she did not wish to go to the Royles' household due to Jim's behaviour on a previous visit. Antony proposed to Saskia on Christmas Day 2010, and later she goes into labour a month early.
1998–2000: Original Run 
The first series ran on BBC Two in 1998, quickly gaining a following such that it was moved to BBC One for the second series in 1999, when it became even more popular. A Christmas special appeared in 1999, followed by a third series and another Christmas special in 2000.
After Aherne announced that she would not write or star in any more episodes, Ricky Tomlinson also pulled out to ensure the show's end. However, on 7 April 2006, the BBC announced that Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash were to write a script for a one-off special, which was broadcast on 29 October 2006. The episode received widespread critical acclaim, having been watched by over 8 million viewers.
Two volumes of scripts from the series have been published: The Royle Family The Scripts: Series 1 by Caroline Aherne, Craig Cash, and Henry Normal. London: Granada Media/Andre Deutsch, 1999, and The Royle Family The Scripts: Series 2 by Caroline Aherne, Craig Cash, and Carmel Morgan. London: Granada Media, 2000.
2006–present: Specials 
The 2008 Christmas special, entitled "The New Sofa" was the first that took place mainly outside of the Royles' house. It began at the Royles', but moved to the Bests' house early on. Ralf Little did not appear in this episode, but his character is referenced. The hour-long special aired on Christmas Day 2008, and attracted 10.6 million viewers, making it the 5th most watched show on Christmas Day and the 5th most watched for the entire week ending 28 December 2008 )
The Royle Family returned as part of Comic Relief, on Friday 13 March 2009. It also marked the return of Ralf Little as Antony, who joined Dave, Denise, Jim and Barbara in the one-off mini episode.
Another Christmas special, 'The Golden Eggcup', was aired on 25 December 2009 at 9pm on BBC One and also in HD on the BBC HD channel. The episode was the most watched show on TV on Christmas Day and for the entire week ending 26 December 2009, attracting an audience of 11.74 million viewers and the highest rating episode of The Royle Family.
In November 2010 Gold broadcast a two hour episode called "Behind The Sofa", with interviews from the cast and crew celebrating the show's return in 2006. Another show entitled "Royle Family Portraits" was aired on Gold on Wednesday 17 November. The most recent episode, a Christmas special entitled "Joe's Crackers" was aired on 25 December 2010 on BBC One and BBC HD. The ratings for the BBC One transmission were 11.29 million viewers, making it the fourth most watched programme of Christmas Day and the sixth most watched for the entire week ending 26 December 2010.
A further Christmas special was planned for 2011, but on 5 November the Sun reported that Aherne and Cash had been unable to complete a script in time for filming. Sue Johnston claimed, on The One Show, that the special had been postponed rather than scrapped, and that the reason behind the delay was due to Ralf Little and Craig Cash's work on The Cafe proving more time consuming than initially thought. Johnston also stated that it might not necessarily be made as a Christmas special, but may air earlier in the year.
In an interview with The Sun in August 2012, Sue Johnston confirmed that there would be a Christmas special that year, saying that 'it's definitely happening this year'. The special titled "Barbaras Old Ring" aired on 25 December 2012. The broadcast was the 3rd most popular programme on Christmas Day, achieving a rating of 9.90 million viewers and was the 6th most watched programme for the week ending December 30 across all UK TV channels.
DVD releases 
|DVD Title||Disc #||Year||Ep. #||DVD release||Christmas Specials|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Complete Series 1||1||1998||6||16 January 2007||6 November 2000 & 15 May 2006||6 November 2006||—|
|Complete Series 2||1||1999||7||15 January 2008||6 November 2000 & 15 May 2006||3 March 2007||1999|
|Complete Series 3||1||2000||7||—||19 November 2001 & 15 May 2006||3 March 2007||2000|
|The Queen of Sheba||1||2006||1||—||30 October 2006||—||—|
|The New Sofa||1||2008||1||—||26 January 2009||—||—|
|The Golden Eggcup||1||2009||1||—||25 January 2010||—||—|
|Joe's Crackers||1||2010||1||—||31 January 2011||—||—|
|Barbara's Old Ring||1||2012||1||—||21 January 2013||—||—|
|The Very Best of ...||1||1998–2000||8||—||25 November 2002||—||1999 & 2000|
|Complete Series 1 - 3||3||1998–2000||20||—||15 May 2006||9 March 2008||1999 & 2000|
|Complete Series 1 - 2006 special||4||1998–2006||21||—||1 September 2008||—||1999, 2000 & 2006|
|Complete Series 1 - 2008 special||5||1998–2008||22||—||24 August 2009||—||1999, 2000, 2006 & 2008|
|Complete Series 1 - 2009 special||7||1998–2009||23||—||16 August 2010||—||1999, 2000, 2006, 2008 & 2009|
- "The Royle Family - Queen of Sheba". BBC Press Office. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
- Wylie, Ian (30 October 2006). "Did you see? The Royle Family (BBC1)". Manchester Evening News (M.E.N. Media). Retrieved 5 August 2008.
- "BARB Weekly Viewing Summary w/e 2006-10-29". BARB. Retrieved 3 October 2008.
- "Xmas 'Royle Family' details revealed". Digital Spy. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
- 'Royle Family' Christmas special confirmed by Craig Cash Digital Spy, July 2011
- Holmwood, Leigh. "Royles written off for Christmas". The Sun.
- "Corrie Grand for Sue". The Sun. 11 August 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: The Royle Family|
- The Royle Family at BBC Programmes
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- The Royle Family at the British Comedy Guide
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- The Royle Family at TV.com