Tuesday’s Overlooked A/V: The Royle Family

I know some of you will immediately say, “Overlooked, my arse!” since it’s on UK Gold regularly. But as the majority of my readers here are Americans, I feel justified in the choice — besides, when do I pass by a chance to share this terrific show? The Royle Family was created by writer/director Caroline Aherne and her writing partner Craig Cash, who also starred in it as Denise Royle and her husband Dave Best. Jim, the patriarch of the Royles was played by Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston starred as Barbara, his long-suffering wife. Her mother was played by the legendary Liz Smith and their very put-upon dogsbody/son Antony was Ralf Little. Regular cast members included Jessica (Spaced) Stevenson as the ever-dieting Cheryl and Geoffrey (Keeping Up Appearances) Hughes as the extremely dodgy Twiggy.

Nothing much ever happened at the Royles. Most episodes they sat talking to each other while watching television, hardly glancing at one other, the narratives mostly unfolding in real time with no laugh track. It may take a whole episode to get used to the family dynamics, but like all character-driven comedy, knowing those characters gives you incredible elasticity. While I always think of this as one of the consistently laugh-out-loud funny programmes ever, it also has some of the most touching moments ever televised as well: Denise’s wedding day, when her waters break and of course, “The Queen of Sheba” Nana’s passing.

It’s my goal to be as phenomenally lazy as Denise. I’ve got a ways to go.

I got to introduce the QoE and Marko to a little bit of the Royles while they were visiting. The Xmas episode is a rare step outside Jim and Barbara’s house to Denise and Dave’s. Guest star Tom Courtenay (yes, really!) steals the show as Dave’s bizarre dad. I love how he says, “Bar-berra” and of course the tropical punch and the whole turkey emergency. Some clips to give you a taste and as always, check out the rest of the recommended A/V over at Todd’s blog.