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October 2010

The Royle Family: The Golden Egg Cup

cast: Ricky Tomlinson, Sue Johnston, Caroline Aherne, Craig Cash, and Ralf Little

director: Caroline Aherne

58 minutes (12) 2009
ITV Global DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
review by Matthew S. Dent

The Royle Family: The Golden Egg Cup

The Royle Family has been an institution of British comedy since it started in 1998, but it tends to have a rather polarising effect. People either see the humour and love it; or they miss the point and simply find it vulgar. I've always liked it, which is perhaps evident from the fact that I was laughing most of the way through, even though I saw this final episode when it originally aired at Christmas 2009.

The Golden Eggcup sees us return to the dysfunctional Royles for Jim and Barbara's 50th wedding anniversary, where an unusual show of authority from normally downtrodden Barbara sees the couple heading for a holiday in the "pearl of Prestatyn."

With daughter Denise and son-in-law Dave in tow, they holiday at a caravan park that is every bit as grim as it sounds. But faced with poor TV reception, the absence of a chip-pan, and an ongoing argument about the titular (and singular) golden eggcup, the holiday doesn't turn out quite as well as Barbara had hoped.

This is staple Royle Family stuff; building on mundane situations, conversations that take the banal to extremes in search of comedy gold, often mining the downright stupid and absurd. And it has that curious appeal that the series has always had, finding humour in things which otherwise wouldn't be funny at all.

Peppered with situations familiar to the everyday lives of most people, it is very much grounded in the here and now. The journey to Prestatyn, for example, with Jim desperate for the toilet is something that we've all probably experienced at some point - and if you haven't, then it's safe to say you haven't done enough long car journeys. Add to that the arguments over the sat-nav, and singing along to the radio, and you have a classic family holiday.

But as much as I enjoyed The Golden Eggcup, I have to admit that it wasn't perfect. It was the same old Royle Family, and for a series that set out trying new things and heading in new directions, going over the same ground over again doesn't fit so well. Many of the old themes felt strained, and repeated jokes seemed tired when earlier in the series they would have been funny.

It was always going to struggle coming after the phenomenal Queen Of Sheba, which frankly should have been where they closed the book on the series. The Golden Eggcup would have been a perfectly good episode a few years ago, but now feels like a fairly feeble afterthought to what was a great series.

The DVD extras are nothing startlingly special, either: a single reel of deleted scenes and outtakes. They don't seem to add anything, but then it's hard to tell what actually contributes when the very source of the humour is mundane blandness. Such a meagre offering, however, feels like merely lip service.

It was funny, and it was interesting, but my lasting impression is that the much-maligned sat-nav lady is right, and in fact the series has reached its destination.



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