The Royle Family cast surprise fans with reunion

‘I thought I would find you at Irish Annie’s pub’ joked star of hit British sitcom

Maira Butt
Friday 26 April 2024 13:23 BST
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Royle Family star Liz Smith dies aged 95

Fans of British sitcom The Royle Family were delighted as members of the cast reunited on Thursday (25 April).

The popular programme followed the eponymous Manchester family between 1998 to 2000, and for special episodes between 2006 to 2012. Couple Jim and Barbara were played by Sue Johnston and Ricky Tomlinson, while their children Denise and Antony were played by Caroline Aherne and Ralf Little.

The cast were beset by a number of deaths in recent years, prompting Johnston to declare that she could no longer watch the show.

However, the actor shocked Tomlinson during a performance of his musical play, Irish Annie’s as she appeared at Stockport Plaza for a surprise reunion.

“I thought I would find you at Irish Annie’s pub,” the star joked as she reenacted the role of Tomlinson’s long-suffering on-screen wife.

The pair went on to share stories of their time working together on The Royle Family and Brookside. Johnston sang and danced to the show’s Irish tunes as she remained on stage throughout the production.

“We have worked together for so many years and I love being in her company, so to see Sue make a surprise appearance in Irish Annie’s made the show even more special,” reported the Manchester Evening News.

The musical by Asa Murphy purports to celebrate the “best of Irish culture” and features live music from band The Shenanigans.

The Royle Family ended in 2000 with special episodes airing until 2012
The Royle Family ended in 2000 with special episodes airing until 2012 (BBC)

The show follows landlady Annie (Catherine Rice) as she deals with customers at her pub, with Tomlinson playing himself as a celebrity guest. Actor and comedian Jason Manford made a special appearance on the show in March last year.

Prior to their reunion on stage, Johnston and Tomlinson appeared on Celebrity Gogglebox.

Caroline Aherne, who co-created The Royale Family with Craig Cash, and starred as Johnston’s on-screen daughter Denise Best, died in 2016 aged 52 after a cancer battle – and actress Liz Smith, who portrayed the beloved Norma ‘Nana’ Speakman, the mum of Sue’s character Barbara, died aged 95 on Christmas Eve in 2016.

Peter Martin, who starred as drowsy neighbour Joe Carroll, died aged 82 in April last year, while Doreen Keogh passed away at 93 in 2017 from Alzheimer’s disease.

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