After 25 years, will ‘The Royle Family’ finally get off the couch?

The Royles at their finest

The Royle’s…on the couch. Photo: BBC

The Royle Family, the brilliant late 90s British situation comedy, is set to return for a one-off special to celebrate the much-loved show’s 25th anniversary next month.

In celebration of it being 25 years since the show launched on BBC, UK Gold will show an updated version of the 2010 documentary The Royle Family: Down The Back Of The Sofa featuring the show’s stars Ricky Tomlinson, Ralf Little, Craig Cash and Sue Johnston.

Centered around the lives of a blue collar, television-fixated Manchester family, the Royles, comprised of family patriarch Jim Royle (Ricky Tomlinson), his wife Barbara (Sue Johnston), their daughter Denise (Caroline Aherne), their son Antony (Ralf Little) and Denise’s fiancé (later husband) David (Craig Cash).

The Royle Family, which ran from 1998-2000 on BBC2 before making the leap to BBC1 for the final two series and subsequent specials through 2012, placed 31st on the British Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest British television programs of all-time back in 2000.

Full disclosure, I loved The Royle Family. I can remember binge watching the entire 3rd series before binge-watching became cool as I knew, at some point, someone was definitely going to get up off that couch and I sure as heck wasn’t going to miss it.

Recent fans of British programming, be it mystery, comedy or drama, that air regularly on your local public television station will immediately recognize a number of familar faces that made up the cast of The Royle Family.

  • Sue Johnston (Barbara Royle) was a decades-long fixture on Coronation Street while also appearing as Miss Denker in Downton Abbey and in Hold the Sunset with John Cleese.
  • Caroline Aherne (Denise Royle Best) not only co-created and co-wrote The Royle Family, she spent two decades as part of The Fast Show
  • Raif Little (Antony Royle) co-wrote and starred in the really sweet British comedy series, The Cafe, in addition to his current starring role in Death in Paradise as DI Neville Parker
  • Craig Cash (David Best) co-wrote (with Caroline Aherne) and starred in The Royle Family in addition to directing The Cafe and writing for The Fast Show.
  • Ricky Tomlinson (Jim Royle), prior to The Cafe, starred as DCI Charlie Wise in Cracker opposite Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid in the Harry Potter films)
  • Liz Smith (Barbara’s mother, Norma Jean Speakman, a.k.a. Nana) starred as Letitia Cropley in The Vicar of Dibley and in Lark Rise to Candleford as Zillah

Sue Johnston and Ricky Tomlinson recently teamed up once again to appear on Celebrity Gogglebox – watching TV like their Royle Family characters Jim and Barbara.

Speaking about their appearance on Gogglebox, Ricky said: “When it first aired, Gogglebox was called ‘the real Royle Family’, so this is a full circle moment. Sue and I together again, in front of the box!

The Royle Family: Down The Back Of The Sofa will air in September on UK Gold.

In: Comedy