The Royle Family


The Royle Family is a popular BBC comedy about the lives of a Mancunian family. The family consists of father Jim (Ricky Tomlinson), a middle-aged, overweight slob on the dole; mother Barbara (Sue Johnston), a bit more upper class than her husband, who also runs the family; daughter Denise (Caroline Aherne), a lazy idler scorned by her father but loved by her mother; and lanky teen son Antony (Ralf Little), whom the family treat like a butler or a slave.

In every episode the Royles are visited by Denise's boyfriend and later husband Dave (Craig Cash), a dim-witted, silent, boring semi-jobless young man. There are also occasional visits from Barbara's mother Norma (Liz Smith). Norma and Jim share a mutual dislike for each other, possibly due to their numerous similarities.

The show is a biting satire of family life in Manchester or perhaps Britain as a whole, as the family rarely do anything other than watch TV and occasionally eat.

Most episodes lack a concrete plot, but most have a theme, or at least a topic of discussion to hold it together. The show also lacks concrete jokes. Many of the humorous situations involve awkwardness, bad jokes, crassness (usually on Jim's part), irony and the fact that the family on the television often mirrors the family watching the television. Much of the humour also derives from the fact that one can connect to the family atmosphere, much like in another BBC docu-comedy, The Office.

The show lacks a laugh track, and the action never leaves the house. Even when the family are looking out of the window the viewer never sees outside with them. It is filmed like a fly on the wall documentary with a single camera, and is quite low-budget.

Each episode appears to take place in real time, so that half an hour of the Royles' lives unfolds during each half-hour episode.

The show is written by Aherne and Cash. It is produced by Granada Television.

The show was made famous by Jim ending many sentences with the catchphrase "My arse."

Each series appeared to lead up to a specific event. The first led to Denise and Dave's wedding; the second saw Denise now pregnant with their child and led up to the birth (Denise went into labour in the Christmas special); and the third saw the addition of Baby David and the run-up to his christening and his 1st birthday on Christmas Day. Jim also received Sky Digital as a present.

The first series ran on BBC2 in 1998, quickly gaining a cult following, and was moved to BBC1 for the second series in 1999, where it became even more popular. A Christmas special appeared in 1999, followed by a third series and another Christmas special in 2000. This episode proved to be the last when Caroline Aherne decided to move to Australia after a bout of depression and a suicide attempt to escape the press. After announcing that she would not write or star in any more episodes, Ricky Tomlinson also pulled out to ensure the show's end.

In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, The Royle Family was placed 31st.