“ Genre: Television - Royle Family / Theatrical Release: 2010 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Actors: Ricky Tomlinson, Sue Johnston, Caroline Aherne, Craig Cash ... / DVD released 2011-01-31 at ITV Studios Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Colour, PAL „
Writers: Caroline Aherne, Craig Cash and Phil Mealey
Director: Caroline Aherne
Stars: Ricky Tomlinson, Sue Johnson, Caroline Aherne, Craig Cash, Ralf Little, Peter Martin, Jessica Heynes and Joanne Froggatt
Firstly, for all those that have never ever seen 'The Royle Family', let me give you a quick introduction into the show itself...
The show started way back in September 1998 with a sort of 'fly on the wall' documentary show following the household day to day lives of a family and there few friends living in Manchester.
This family, the Royle's, consists of the dad, Jim, (Ricky Tomlinson), who is a snobbish loud mouthed layabout with the hygiene levels of a dead rodent in a heat wave.
Then there's Barbara, (Sue Johnson), Jim's loyal wife who cooks cleans and basically slaves over her husband and there two children, plus anyone else that visit's the Royle household.
Jim and Barbara's children, although they are not really children, are Denise, (Caroline Aherne), a lazy 'chav' like woman whose life revolves around television shows such as Jeremy Kyle, This Morning and more, especially all the soaps, basically any thing that is on the television really.
Denise's boyfriend, Dave, (Craig Cash), who became her husband later in the series, started as a bit of a quite type with a slow speaking manner, but, as the series progressed he became a bit more of a 'dim witted' moron with the personality of a slow worm. Over time Denise and Dave managed to bring children into the world, although Denise's motherly instincts never seemed to kick in, preferring to leave her children with any one that would have them rather than take care of them herself.
The other offspring of Jim and Barbara is Anthony, (Ralf Little), who began as the family tea boy, always bullied into doing many things around the home, especially brewing up for the rest of the family whilst they sit on there backsides watching the television.
Then there's Norma, or Nan, (Liz Smith), who is Barbara's mother and Jim's nemeses, the pair constantly bickering when ever Norma comes to visit. And things get worse for Jim when Norma actually moves into their home in 'The Queen of Sheba'.
Sadly, in the Queen of Sheeba', the Royle's have to say goodbye to her.
As for the other main characters in the show, Jim and Barbara's neighbours, namely the Caroll's, Joe, (Peter Martin), who started as a hen pecked man who spoke very little. His wife Mary, (Doreen Keogh), a usually chatty Irish lady who laughed at anything, (although in this episode she is a far cry from her usual self), then there's Joe and Mary's daughter, Cheryl, (Jessica Heynes), who was constantly trying every new diet of the time, although seeming to finally give up when she realised it was too much like hard work.
In this episode we are introduced to Anthony's his heavily pregnant girlfriend Sashkia (Joanne Froggatt)
Since the show started back 1998 it has given the world three series and several annual specials, 24 episodes in total.
The first series having 6 episodes whist the second two consisting of seven episodes each. The specials being aired over the Christmas periods in 2006, (The Queen of Sheba), 2008, (The New Sofa), 2009, (The Golden Egg cup), and this one in 2010, (Joe's Cracker).
So, here we are, with the latest special episode following the exploits of the Royle family and all those that know them...
Welcome to 'Joes' Cracker'
It's Christmas day and it's a proper family occasion at the Royle household with all and sundry invited to Christmas dinner, including neighbours Joe, Cheryl and Mary, only Mary's not as she used to be.
As usual, in the Royle household, things are a little hectic, with Jim recovering from a bit of a mishap, concerning a plastic bag, a frozen turkey and his big toe, only for things to get worse when Dave tries to fix the tree lights, causing more pain for the lazy slob.
Now with Jim being a little disable, more than usual, it's up to Dave and Antony to help him get comfortable around the house, only this is not as easy as it sounds.
Antony and his heavily pregnant girlfriend, Saskia, are living there for a while, until there new house is ready, which has pleased Jim a little, if only so he can try and grab an eyeful at bath time.
So, with the festivities getting underway, there are some lovely presents being exchanged, although a fridge magnet isn't the best of gifts compared to what Barbara and Jim have always wanted.
Unfortunately, Joe seems a little confused in his life with Mary, almost on the verge of insanity, and is close to moving away from the hustle and bustle of the Royle life style.
Meanwhile Cheryl is still missing her latest love of her life, only he didn't turn out to be the greatest of Catches.
So Christmas day in the Royle household is as normal as ever, well, as normal as the Manchester Royle family have ever been, even when Mary ends up becoming closer to one of Barbara's presents than she'd ever liked.
Antony cheers up the festivities with his surprise for Saskia, although her surprise for him is a little more on the messy side.
In one word...hilarious...
It starts off with a wallop of dry wit and carries on with some cracking comedy throughout, although it did have a bit of padding inserted to get it to the usual 60 minute special length...
The opening scenes are a key to how the show is going to go, although Jims' toe 'attire' does warrant a bit of a clean, but the tree scene is quick and very funny indeed.
Then the rest of the show continues along that line of humour, which I do realise is not to everyone's taste but there will be something in it for all.
The cast are as good as ever, although Martin, as Joe, does seem to have found his voice a lot more than he usually does, even though he's sober, but this just adds to the fun as he banters with the Royle's.
Cash continues to play his role as Dave to perfection, seeming to be more dippier than ever, whilst Aherne's character, Denise, still fails in her motherly instincts, (watch out for a quick scene in the kitchen when Cheryl comments on taking Denise's kids with her when she moves... it's fast but funny).
It's good to see that the writers have decided to continue in the success of Antony in his computing job, giving him a new girlfriend, Saskia, (Although the name Saskia does confuse Joe a little as he doesn't always get it right), and his new family life, although we still don't know what happened to his last girlfriend and child.
Tomlinson, as Jim, is less mobile in this show, if that's possible, although he does still have to go to the toilet, with the help of a not so happy Antony and Dave, making yet another toilet scene involving Jim's not so white Y fronts.
As I said earlier there is a bit of padding in this episode, especially a few minutes involving Mary and Nana as they have there pictures taken with the rest of the family, but this padding is still fun to watch and doesn't last too long so as to bore you into turning off.
The show is full of witty remarks, such as Jims comment to Joe's about Mary getting so confused during her Jury service that she confessed to the murder herself. With some good stories to boot, such as Cheryl's latest ex-boyfriend and his dog...
In all, another cracking Royle family special which is well worth watching as it will certainly make you smile at least once... in parts, if like me, you may even cry with laughter.
As the DVD can not be bought until the end of January this review is about the episode itself, but when the DVD does come out it can be bought from the likes of amazon from the end of January for around a tenner, which for 60 minutes of cracking entertainment, is great value for money.