“YOU can’t see it with your eyes, hold it in your hand…this thing called love.”
Johnny Cash says it all in the new one-off episode of The Royle Family, screened on BBC1 at 9pm next Sunday.
It is, quite simply, The Royle’s finest hour. Or as Jim might say: “A bloody great work of genius.”
Writers and associate producers Caroline Aherne, Craig Cash and Phil Mealey have crafted a celebration of life, love and lamination which will have you laughing out loud one minute, and in tears the next.
TV trailers already feature one exchange between pregnant Denise (Caroline Aherne) and mum Barbara (Sue Johnston) involving Denise and Dave’s son Little David, who is now six:
Denise: “Can Little David stay over here on Friday?”
Barbara: “Oh yeah, of course he can. What time ‘till?”
Denise: “Till Monday.”
It turns out that Dave (Craig Cash) and Denise are planning a little break away…from Little David.
Dave is off to The Feathers and Denise needs to catch up with her Sky+ recordings of Trisha and Jeremy Kyle.
There’s so much to enjoy in the return of the Royles, including the latest answers to Barbara’s favourite questions: “Have you had your tea?” and “What did you have?”
As already revealed in a recent MEN feature, Nana (Liz Smith) is now living with Barbara and Jim (Ricky Tomlinson), who, of course, still owns that grubby yellow top.
In contrast, Antony (Ralf Little) is upwardly mobile in suit and tie – prompting Jim’s greeting: “Hey up, it’s Alan Sugar”. Our Antony is also now a dad himself.
There are re-appearances from several other characters, including Jessica Stevenson as Cheryl, Geoffrey Hughes as Twiggy and Doreen Keogh as Mary.
Both Jeremy Clarkson and Trevor McDonald are honoured with name checks and the MEN plays a supporting role.
The new hour-long episode also creates a bit of history by venturing outside the family’s Wythenshawe home.
Other highlights include a nod back to a previous Royle screen triumph, Barbara and Jim’s views on lamination and a cameo role for co-writer Phil.
But it’s scarlet ribbons and a scene with no dialogue for over a minute which may stop you in your tracks.
From opening credits to final freeze frame, it’s brilliant, award-winning telly.
As Johnny Cash sings: “Ever since time nothing’s ever been found that’s stronger than love.”
The Royle Family
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