Caroline Aherne dead: How the comedian ensured The Royle family became a classic sitcom

The comedy show's creator, writer and actor starred as Denise across three series 

Jacob Stolworthy
Saturday 02 July 2016 18:15 BST
Caroline Aherne (centre left) as Denise in Manchester-based sitcom The Royle Family
Caroline Aherne (centre left) as Denise in Manchester-based sitcom The Royle Family

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


The multi-talented Caroline Aherne has sadly passed away at the age of 52 having lost her battle with cancer.

While appearing in an array of roles since her comedy career began in 1990 (including The Fast Show and The Mrs Merton Show) it is perhaps The Royle Family that will endure as Aherne's crowning glory.

The BBC sitcom was created and written by Aherne alongside her co-star Craig Cash, the two played couple Denise and Dave in a cast comprised of Ricky Tomlinson, Sue Johnston and Ralf Little.

Remembering Caroline Ahearne's amazing interview with Debbie McGee

Originally premiering in 1998, the show had a three-series run - the final of which aired in 2000. While it's clear to see that Aherne's talents were a big factor into why the show is today revered as a classic, what's not commonly known is the opposition the comedian faced in ensuring her show was made the way she intended it to be.

Studio executives wanted The Royle Family to have either have an audience or laughter track, something that Aherne fought against. They also pushed to expand the series from it's iconic central location of the Royle's living room - slouched on the sofa in front of their beloved television set - with the mindset of introducing bigger storylines to the series.

Fortunately, Aherne opposed these ideas also allowing her creativity to win out over studio exec's short-sightedness.

The Royle Family has long been considered one of the greatest British sitcoms of our time, something Aherne will forever be commended for.

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