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The Royle queen

October 30, 2006

What a fantastic family reunion last night’s Royle Family was. Six years ago, it was easy to forget how brilliant the series was after seeing yet another Jim Royle talking biscuit tin on sale at Clintons. It had been a victim of its success, rather like Andy’s fictional When the Whistle Blows in Extras. There were biscuit tins, pencil cases. People would quote Jim’s “my arse” over and over, and it had really started to grate. Which is why it had to go into hibernation for six long years in order for it to immerge, butterfly-like as The Queen of Sheba to be realised in all its purity.

There it was, an hour-long special, perfect: hilarious and touching in equal parts – just like it used to be. Except that now, Nana is living downstairs in what was the dining room, Denise has extensions and calls everyone “Babes” and Antony has a pinstriped suit and has conferences in Milton Keynes.

The best comedy can make you cry just as easily as they can make you laugh (and sometimes – like this – at the same time) and the genius that is the Aherne/Cash duo manages to take the viewer from tummy aching giggles at something so subtle as Denise’s extension flicking, to soppy-faced uncontrollable sobbing at the sad demise of our beloved Nana. And as soon as Nana propped herself up in bed, for the whole family to great (individually, one after the other as is done in the Royle household to much mirth), we knew it wouldn’t be long before Nana was off to take tea in the big sitting room in the sky.

For the first time (ever, I think) we were allowed to follow the Royle’s, out of their household, to say our goodbyes to the formidable Queen of Sheba, and then returned to her fun (not funeral as she heart-breakingly insisted). Even when Denise got married, we had to stay behind in the sitting room, so it seems a fair tribute (not to mention what a huge occasion this was) that we were at last, allowed to follow. We were finally inducted into The Family.

At last, Jim made his peace with Nana and finally let his fondness for her show as he had a joke with the old dear as she went up the stairs. His reaction at her deathbed was so touching and had me unashamedly sobbing like a big wet girl. Other precious moments were Nana’s fake nails and extensions, and the emotionally-charged introduction of Norma to Baby-Norma.

Sadly, it looks as thought this is it for the Royles – Amazon is selling the entire series “including the finale” – so, that’s one for the birthday list…

Birthday list, my arse.

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