Royle secrets revealed...

10 things you might not have known about the show

GOLD is continuing its celebrations of The Royle Family tomorrow (Wednesday) with Royle Family Portraits, in which the cast and celebrity fans select their favourite moments from the show. Meanwhile, here are ten things you might not have known about the classic sitcom.

  • Noel Gallagher was mystified when he was first approached about using Half the World Away as the show’s theme song. He was on tour at the time, and thanks to a bad connection he thought the Royal Family were requesting permission to use one of his songs for a documentary. Even after he twigged, Noel was baffled, suggesting that the track Married With Children was the more logical choice…

  • Caroline Aherne had plenty of notes from TV execs about the show. They wanted a studio audience or laughter track – Caroline rejected it. They wanted to have bigger, more obvious storylines – Caroline rejected it. And they wanted to take the show out of the Royle's living room and set it in different locations – Caroline rejecting it, saying that the only rubbish episode of Til Death Us Do Part she could remember was the one in a restaurant. Eventually, the suits backed down.

  • Caroline Aherne thought the first episode of the first series was so bad, she wanted to buy the rights to it and have it binned. Luckily, the hefty price tag (almost £250,000) made her realise she could live with it as it was. ‘I'd have bought it from them if it had been any less, though,’ she says.

  • Although Caroline and Craig Cash get all the credit for The Royle Family, the first series was also written by Henry Normal, the one-time performance poet who now co-owns the production company Baby Cow – which made Gavin & Stacey and The Mighty Boosh – with his mate Steve Coogan. Rumour has it Jim Royle was based on Henry's dad.

  • The Americans attempted to remake the Royle Family, turning them into a bunch of slobbish rednecks. They called the show The Kennedys, as the political dynasty were the nearest thing to a royal family America ever had, but even the efforts of Randy Quaid in the Jim Royle role couldn't save the show, and it didn't last beyond a pilot.

  • Filming the 2009 Christmas special was hit by a technical glitch. All seemed fine on set, but when the film went back to the lab, technicians realised the camera had cut off everyone's heads. In the words of one crew member: ‘It was like going to Boots with your wedding snaps ruined, but on a massive scale.’ The whole cast had to return for a re-shoot which cost £100,000.

  • Shameless creator Paul Abbott says he owes his show’s success to the Royle Family, saying it would never have been given the go ahead if the sitcom hadn't tested out the audience first.

  • Dave's dreary parents David and Jocelyn Best, who turned up in the 2008 Christmas special, were played by screen veterans Tom Courtney and Helen Fraser. The two of them had played a couple once before, back in 1963 for the British comedy classic Billy Liar. Extra trivia: Royle Family star Ralf Little played Billy Liar himself on stage in 2004.

  • Liz Smith might play the sweet and lovely Nana on the show but she was as gutter-mouthed as anyone, which she put down to her time in the Navy during World War Two. ‘I'm a totally vulgar person,’ she says.

  • Zoe Ball had a crush on Ralf Little when he was appearing in the show,telling her Radio 1 listeners at the time he was ‘really sexy’ – as this clip proves

Published: 16 Nov 2010

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