Never departing from the house of lazy, good-for-nothing but defiantly sardonic Jim Royle (Ricky Tomlinson) and wife Barbara (Sue Johnston), The Royle Family chronicles the everyday chat and banal comings and goings of this Northern household, which barely qualifies as "working" class, since mostly they are slumped on the sofa in front of the telly in a cathode-induced stupor. Confused viewers waiting for something to "happen" in the conventional sitcom manner will be disappointed. What they'll get instead is an irresistible stream of dialogue that captures unerringly the humdrum cadences of "ordinary" people.
These episodes capture the Royles in customary, festive mood--Denise's marriage, Christmas, baby David's birthday party and so forth--which is good, as we get to see more of Liz Smith's magnificent Nana. As each seemingly inconsequential scene vividly illustrates, this is hardly a romanticised family. Denise is an appallingly negligent mother, there's probably never been a green vegetable in the house, most of their friends, including Darren, are well dodgy, and mum Barbara is unfairly put-upon ("Eh, I've been so busy this morning I haven't had time to smoke", she laments at one point). Yet undoubtedly, unlike their regal counterparts, this Royle Family are close-knit, somehow getting by. The family that watches telly together stays together.
On the DVD: The Very Best of the Royle Family, disappointingly, has no extra features. --David Stubbs
Like the Best of Father Ted selection, it is possible to watch this DVD without having seen any of the other episodes.
This DVD would appeal to anyone who likes character based or observational comedy and would recommend the programme Early Doors to anyone who finds it funny.