Cue the nostalgia: “The Royle Family”, the landmark British sitcom, is poised to make a triumphant return to our screens in a remarkable 25th-anniversary documentary that promises to send fans on a trip down memory lane. Gold Channel has commissioned the special, christened “Down The Back Of The Sofa”, to mark the silver jubilee of the beloved TV fixture that made an indelible mark on the nation’s collective consciousness.
Produced by Granada Television for the BBC, “The Royle Family” resonated with audiences through its authentic depiction of working-class life in late-20th century Manchester, primarily from the perspective of a TV-obsessed family. We remember fondly Jim Royle (Ricky Tomlinson), the family patriarch and his unforgettably sharp-tongued repartee, his devoted wife Barbara (Sue Johnston), their children Denise (Caroline Aherne) and Antony (Ralf Little), and Denise’s eventually husband, David (Craig Cash).
Almost all episodes were set within the Royle family’s home, the living room serving as the backdrop to their often amusing, sometimes touching, domestic exploits. Audiences revelled in the offbeat humour derived from the family’s colloquial banter, all while tackling issues of family, relationships, and the universal experience of just “watching the telly.”
The sitcom broke the mould of the conventional laugh-track reliant genre, with a real-time narrative and single camera production style that allowed for an intimate and unfiltered window into the lives of these relatable characters. It’s no surprise, then, that “The Royle Family” secured its place in television history, with Jim Royle ranked eleventh in Channel 4’s list of 100 Greatest TV Characters and the series itself 31st in the British Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest British television programmes.
For the anniversary documentary, Phil McIntyre Television has gathered new insights from creators Craig Cash and the late Caroline Aherne, as well as from series regulars like Tomlinson, Johnston, and Little. To add perspective to the series’ impact, they’ve also included the thoughts of celebrity fans such as Diane Morgan, Rosie Jones, Jamie and Natasia Demetriou, John Thomson, Rachel Fairburn, Shobna Gulati, Jack Rooke, and Sharon Rooney.
Commissioning editor Jason Dawson expressed his delight at this venture, stating, “A quarter of a century! The Royle Family has without doubt left a permanent mark in television history and we’re delighted to have commissioned this documentary for the 25th anniversary.”
Look forward to revisiting some of your favourite Royle Family moments when “Royle Family: Down the Back of the Sofa” airs on Gold this September. In the words of the representative from Phil McIntyre Television, “It’s a real treat to revisit ‘Behind the Sofa’ for the Royle Family’s Silver Jubilee.”