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Sunday, 29 October 2006

The Royle Family: The Queen of Sheba, BBC1

Did we like it?
We loved it. We got the usual mix of jokes about vol au vents, turkey twizzlers and chips, and the remote control plus plenty of tear-jerking moments, hair-flicking, laminating, a stairlift and an orthodox Jew being introduced to the delights of the Snakebite.

What was good about it?
• The poignant moments even outshone the comedy. We loved it when Jim fooled around with Nana ("the queen of bloody Sheba) and her walking frame; and when Barbara sobbed as she curled Nana's hair; and when Nana lived long enough to cradle baby Norma Orchard Tallulah Porsche Royle.
• The use of music: a splash of Johnny Cash (Jim's rendition of I Walk The Line as he used Nana's stairlift and Nana's shrieked version of Ring Of Fire), Que Sera Sera, I Wanna Be Like You during the laminating dance sequence, and Scarlet Ribbons.
• Jim's TV criticism: On Deal Or No Deal – "He's like a bloody bad smell that Noel Edmonds. I wish someone would put him in one of those bloody boxes and bury it.” On Graham Norton – "I didn't mind the days of novelty gays like Larry Grayson, now it’s a bloody novelty if you see any straights on television”.
• Denise getting Barbara to babysit Little David for the weekend. "Dave needs to spend some quality time on his own in The Feathers and I've got loads of catching up to do – Trisha and Jeremy Kyle."
• Liz Smith's swansong performance as Nana, occupying a bed where the dining table used to be, using a magnifying glass to recognise her family and cackling away merrily as she told interesting, detailed stories about dead friend Elsie's daughter
• Cheryl's bid to find love through the lonely hearts ads ("Likes going out for meals or staying in for meals." "Skin colour not essential") which brought her ginger Derek, biker Slash and orthodox Jew Solomon before, in one of the show's sweetest moments, she realised that Twiggy (Eddie Yates) could be the man she needs.
• Cheryl's pragmatism when she forgot the nuts part of her diet. She had a Topic and two Snickers instead.
• Dave's ponderous, hesitant reading of a sizzling romance to Nana (which gave Jim "a little stiffie")
• Barbara's aspirations: "All I've ever dreamed of is being laminated throughout" and "I wouldn't mind trying a la carte one night. I'm sick of chops."
• Jim – "Our Denise got up off her arse to make the buffet but don't spread it around or no-one'll eat it – except Cheryl."

What was bad about it?
• There wasn't enough Antony.
• Jim using hard-working Antony as a source of easy money.
• Jim's view of the David Furnish/Elton John relationship: "I bet his candle's given Elton wind a few bloody times."
• The colostomy bag joke (Cheryl emptying it into the washing up) was a bit too obvious

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