The Royle Family

BBCl, starts w;c Sat 7 Oct.

The tribulations of dysfunctional working class families have proved strong currency for British television since the early 605 when, week after week, millions of proud new telly owners tuned in to witness the Barlows bickering around their parlour table in Coronation Street.

Inspired by the public fascination with ’authentic' family life, director Peter Watson took the genre to its logical next step in 1974 when his film crew arrived on the doorstep of the Wilkins family from Reading. The resulting documentary The Family, must have seemed a novel, if simple, idea at the time: a no- holds-barred depiction of the turbulent existence of ordinary Jo(e)s.

The nation lapped up the Wilkins soap opera. But Watson had inadvertently created an evil monster that would continue to wreak havoc a quarter of a century later, inflicting ’l'll do anything to get on TV’ types like Jeremy Spake and Jane McDonald on an unsuspecting viewing public.

Happily, Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash the creators of The Royle Family brought the seemingly unquenchable thirst for 'reality TV' full circle by turning fly-on-the-wall voyeurism into scripted comedy. And, contrary to the cynical quality of The Family and its obnoxious Australian counterpart Sylvania Waters, Aherne, Cash and co realised that subtlety was the key to successfully chronicling family life.

Riding high in the popularity stakes with a truckload of awards to its name (BAFTA bosses are reportedly considering the inauguration of ‘The Ricky Tomlinson Award for the best episode of The Royle Family) and a well-deserved promotion from BBCZ's half-baked comedy zone to the dizzy heights of BBC1, expectations are going into orbit for the programme’s third series.

Initially considered a bit of a risk (the characters didn’t

Books and booze fuel this fine sitcom


Subtle and successful chronicle of family life

move from their front room for the whole of the first series; an absence of canned laughter made it difficult for BBC programmers to know when to laugh) it seemed a ludicrous notion that a Friday night sitcom could be carried by its writing and acting alone. The show's attention to detail is so fine you could pass it through a needle‘s eye, augmented by the perfect balance of comedy and tragedy.

As in the Aherne/Cash-scripted Mrs Merton And Malcolm, the Royles are horribly, hilariously familiar in their collective lack of ambition and the ensemble cast of well-known faces fit together so well you might find yourself checking the credits for shared surnames. A master stroke was the re-pairing of Brookside's warring couple Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston as Jim and Barbara Royle. The rumour mill is already grinding in earnest for series three. How will Denise and Dave cope with parenthood? Will Nana pop her clogs? Will Jim finally make Barbara a cup of tea? All will be revealed. (Allan Radcliffe)

cantankerous shell by new assistant Manny (Bill Bailey) and owner of next ctoor's Nifty Gifty, Fran tletlSlll (jreigi Among the many funny scenarios \.‘.’lll(ll develop over the six episodes are confusions With a new sec ui'ity system, difficulties inherent in doing your accounts tshile iiiebriated, and meetings \‘-.'lill a photographer \t'hose unhealthy fascination for beards goes too far

The series is co-ss'ritteii by lsloran and Graham Linehan the man partly responsible for comedy classics such as Big Train and Father Ted, and this one may be in danger of givmg teliy sitcoms a decent name ‘I kll(‘\.\ that Bernard was on retreat from the \world, so a bookshop was right, he couldn't

Black Books

Channel 4, starts Fri 29 Sep, 9.30pm. In the othei‘x'nse ghastly Notting Hill, one :iiiage may have lingered pleasurabiy m the mind That of a clypso Dylan. T‘JOTclll trying to shoplift his .'.ay out of Hugh Grant's antiquated bookstore Such sx'reet,

102 THE lIST 2‘ 8-9:; 5 Orf QTIC-C

street irony then, that his sitcom debut should be set in such an establishment its/ere not counting How Do You Want

Me 9 whic h was very much (()lll(’(l'\//(ll'(iltt(i1(‘l‘l'dltti Edinburgh-based Moran plays

Bernard Black, an ill-teiiipered, anti- business man ‘.'\.’lll‘i a fervent taste for literature and liquor, brought out of his

sell c‘oiiiputer games,’ states Moran 'Bernard loves books, he Jll'si hates people

One further irony in 1996, Bill Bailey was the hottest favourite in many a year to scoop the Perrier Comedy Award He was beaten to the trophy by one Dylan Moran They are still talking iBrian D()lt(il(l8()ll‘

TV times

We put TV celebs on the couch. This issue: Robert Lindsay Born Star of stage anc: sc "ee'i, Robert L-ncisay in. as born Ronert S:(’\.’(.‘"S()lt on l3 December 1949 in li-ceston, Derbysnire. Big break Lindsay's acting career began ts'itn a vengc-iance I." tne late 70s as tile Svitrti‘, {'10 QUIIdT-lttciSSdC"HQ, Il‘ltMSStOl‘EKl odd-be t‘O‘.'OEUiO".ar1,/()f tne Toomg Popu'ar Front .ii John Salt an's Citi/e/i Smith, rec eitirig (-itTOi'TQ.’ air rig ‘.‘.?illlll llove The 7970s. Finest hour Snce leai. ng \‘v’ofe to ".18 .iroari gaerril a snar‘are in 1980, Lndsay has oei‘ionstratec: i.'ei‘sat~‘i:§.' c)". the sma l screen 4‘ ro;es ranging "on: the ciaf". to tne meeac rig. A faxoti" te of r'ter Alan B:easciaie, the pa r l‘ax e co laoorateci to potent ef‘ec‘. or: oiac'c co'iied es 68H (il‘(l ,ax'e’s Progress anci "more recent y ii the TV adaptation o‘ Oirver' T.'/is‘t And now? Haxzeg success‘a tac kleci the Dane, ‘."e liloor, R cnarci lll, Henry ll, Cyrano cie Bergerac (."(l Page \'.'est End and ()'t the BBC, Li"(l's(i‘,’ s abo'at to 'iiee'. h s n ggest act iic; c"a:.ei‘c;e yet 1b a "eta": to sitcom territory cioxig t"i‘c).ign a n: o‘ a bag patc" at the momen: poo' ld'l‘l)‘ anci t'ie eaci "o e i‘ t"e 'atest e‘fo't i’fl,’ Farm/j, Next ..p, “e i.'.:, na,’ a on toson'", ectare" ‘3‘ a cio..b e ‘zfe n l".(‘ Beeo's Ha.‘.yk:ns Little known fact T'iO soec tre o‘ ai‘ actor's ea" unork ca" cast a .ong anci ciarx sti(i(}()‘.'. Skeleto's Ear-c "g e L nosa‘, 's c attered r)"e-C'ti/c‘-ri Sin/tn c oset r‘c ticie (l!"(‘ 70s B-tt‘o‘. es I-ce Adventures Of A Taxi Drruer and That’i’ Be The Day onpos te "esnecteci thesps Dang Essex, RI".(}() Star" a"ci Keit" lr.loc)e Not so little known fact L vicisay's "eatioi‘s'rn tl‘ ROSt‘l‘id' e ‘.'."at's-:"e- scores-ltliss' F()"(l "ece"t.§. produced t"ev" frst c'1 to, Sa'i‘ae The actors pre'uoas a ances "ave 'i‘( new "s s'x-§.ea" "‘d".".d(]t? to Cir/en Sin/tn co-sta" Chery Haé No relation to L vicisa'. Daiica", Robert Dox'n‘ey Jnr, L 'icisa; Dci‘.(‘l‘;)()"l iAi'a" Racic if'fe

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