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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 11:37 GMT
Royle Family return seen by 7.8m
The cast of The Royle Family
The one-off featured the departure of a much-loved family member
The one-off return of BBC comedy The Royle Family earned an audience of 7.8 million, overnight estimates suggest.

The show had the highest ratings in its 2100 GMT timeslot, but it was beaten by soap Coronation Street and the first in a new series of ITV1's Heartbeat.

They were seen by 9.6 million and 8.3 million respectively earlier on Sunday.

TV critics praised the new episode of The Royle Family, with the Independent describing it as "an update, a coda and a farewell wrapped into one".

The return to "the living room of the first family of comedy" was "a celebration of old-fashioned working class vitality", wrote Gerard Gilbert.

Now little David was clearly a child of his time, with a taste for Turkey Twizzlers and a possible case of attention deficit disorder
James Walton, Daily Telegraph

Tim Teeman in the Times noted that it was unexpected for the programme, which stars Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston, to have featured incidental music and moments of high drama.

However, "funny won over serious each time", he said.

"There is such affection for The Royle Family that they could all probably just sit there, watching telly and talking about nothing much and we would love it all the same."

Daily Telegraph critic James Walton described the atmosphere of the show - written by Caroline Aherne, Craig Cash and Phil Mealey - as "eerily contemporary".

Jonathan Kerrigan and Mark Jordon in Heartbeat
ITV1's Yorkshire police drama Heartbeat is now in its 16th series
"Even in its heyday, the series felt like the writers' 1970s childhoods transplanted to the '90s.

"Now little David was clearly a child of his time, with a taste for Turkey Twizzlers and a possible case of attention deficit disorder."

And the twist in the plot which saw the departure of a family member was "a tour de force of direction and photography", according to Nancy Banks-Smith in the Guardian.

The one-off followed on from three series and two Christmas specials of the hugely-popular show, broadcast between 1998 and 2000.


SEE ALSO
Royle Family to make a comeback
07 Apr 06 |  Entertainment
Actor's son died of alcohol abuse
06 Apr 05 |  North East Wales
Royle night at TV awards
23 Oct 01 |  Entertainment
Aherne's success and excess
09 Apr 01 |  Entertainment
Royles cleaned up for US
08 Apr 01 |  Entertainment
A Royle night at the Baftas
14 May 00 |  Entertainment

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