The Royle Family secrets – disastrous £100k blunder, testicle slip and ‘naughty corner’

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The Royle Family has had the nation in stitches for over two decades – but it sounds like it would have been even funnier watching the cats make the show.

After meeting at a Manchester pirate radio station in the early 80s, Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash became best friends.

They went on to write one of the greatest ever British sitcoms, while playing lethargic on-screen couple Denise and Dave.

The original series ran from 1998 to 2000 – with five special episodes airing from 2006 until 2012 – and a sixth was in the works before Caroline tragically passed away in 2016.

Caroline was not your ordinary boss, pranking the rest of the cast and supplying them with booze during filming.

"There's a million stories but you can't tell them on the air because Caroline was one for playing pranks, but they were always a little bit rude. But she was wonderful and so, so missed," said Ricky Tomlinson this year.

Here is a look at some of the behind-the-scenes set secrets on The Royle Family.

Secretly drinking champagne

The cast did love to have a drink on set
(Image: BBC)

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Carole used to love treating the cast at the end of a week's filming, providing them with lots of nice treats, including booze.

Marking the four-year anniversary of Caroline's passing, Sue revealed how generous her on-screen daughter was.

"She was very funny, but her generosity was extraordinary," Sue said on Loose Women.

"At the end of a week’s filming there would be a table laid out with champagne, beers, sweets for the crew and everyone, she spoiled everyone."

Sue also revealed a cheeky behind-the-scenes secret during filming that Caroline implemented.

In most scenes, the cast were seen having a cup of tea in their hands, but their mugs were often filled with alcohol.

Sue added: "Sometimes, what used to make me laugh – especially these days – we’d get to about Thursday and we’d been constantly filming and on that sofa and she’d suddenly call the producer over and she’d go, 'John, I think we’ve all gone a bit flat, I think we need champagne!'

"And it would come! We’d be drinking champagne in those mugs."

Ricky's accidental slip

Ricky's little blunder cost the BBC a lot of money
(Image: BBC)

Ricky had a literal 'balls up' during filming that cost the BBC a small fortune.

The Jim Royle actor got a strange call from Caroline on a Friday night asking him to come up to Manchester the next morning for a bit of dubbing.

Ricky was surprised to be going in on a Saturday morning and when he arrived found Craig and Caroline watching a clip on a screen.

They asked him to film a retake where Jim was being carried up the stairs is just his vest and Y-fronts.

Revealing what Caroline told him, Ricky explained: "She said when we were watching the rushes one of your testicles was hanging out. One of your testicles was hanging out the side of your underpants!

"'It's cost the BBC a fortune to get it edited out, what do you say about that?'"

Retelling the hilarious story to the Loose Women in June, Ricky explained that he asked a very serious question.

"I said, 'Well, was it the big one or the small one'?" he quipped.

Naughty corner

The Royle Family cast were very naughty on set
(Image: BBC)

There were a lot of laughs and jokes on set, but sometimes the cast needed to be reminded they were there to work.

In the end, the frustrated crew members were forced to tell the giggling actors to go and stand in a 'naughty corner'.

They were made to stand in the little area when they couldn't stop laughing or forgot their lines.

But it quickly became so packed that they had to expand and make an actual cell.

"We used to have to go and stand in the naughty corner if we cried or laughed," explained Sue on Loose Women this year.

"Then it got so big this naughty corner that when we went back for the final series the props guys had built a prison in the corner of the studio with bars and blue flashing lights."

Expensive blunder

A camera fault ruined filming on the 2009 Christmas special
(Image: BBC)

It's not just the cast who have been at fault for some expensive mistakes on set.

Two days worth of footage for the 2009 Christmas special, The Golden Egg Cup, was ruined because everyone's heads had been cut off.

One crew member said: "It was like going to Boots with your wedding snaps ruined, but on a massive scale."

They discovered that a tiny object had dropped into the lens and ruined the film.

The whole cast had to come back to set to reshot the scenes – at a staggering estimated cost of £100,000.

"When we looked at the footage, it was like my holiday photographs – everyone's head was cut off. Everything was lost. We were absolutely gutted," writer Phil Mealey told The Daily Telegraph.

Luckily they recaptured the magic and were pleased with the end result.

Real-life tears on set

Caroline's character had a baby in the Royle house
(Image: BBC)

Ricky shared a special bond with his on-screen daughter Caroline.

Recalling their days on set in Manchester, Ricky explained his fondest memory was the 1999 Christmas Special in which Denise went into labour and Jim was left to comfort her.

He found the scene with Caroline particularly poignant for two reasons, explaining: "I think it was so special to her because she didn’t have children.

"And it was so special to me because my own girl, my Kate, was born on Christmas Day.

"And that’s why the tears were real. The cameraman was the son of Corrie character Stan Ogden and at the end he was crying and said: ‘That’s it. We don’t need another take.’ It just stands out in my mind."

Caroline hated first episode

Caroline Aherne wanted to buy the first episode
(Image: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Every episode of The Royle Family is considered a masterpiece, but Caroline was not pleased with the very first episode.

So much so that she genuinely considered buying the rights to it from the BBC so that she could have it binned forever.

However, Caroline decided against it after releasing it would cost her a staggering £200,000.

So in the end she decided she could live with the classic ep still being show on our tellies.

"I actually hated it," she said. "But when they told me how much it cost , I went, 'Oh, it's not bad, actually'. I'd have bought it from them if it had been any less, though."

Why series ended and no reunion plans

It doesn't look like The Royle Family will ever return
(Image: BBC)

The series originally ran from 1998 until 2000, when Caroline announced she would not be starring in or writing any further episodes.

There was a possibility that the show could have continued without her, but one cast member made sure that would not be the case.

Ricky also pulled out to make sure that the comedy series would definitely finish while it was at its peak.

However, six years later Caroline and Craig wrote a one-off special, then went on to make another four up until 2012.

After the tragic death of Caroline back in 2016, many of the cast have insisted they would not want to have an on-screen reunion without her.

"Not for me, if it’s not broke don’t try and fix it", said Ricky on Loose Women this summer.

"She was wonderful. How many people of my age love going to work? How many people can't wait to get up and go to work in the morning and have a laugh? That's what it was like."

*The Royle Family airs tonight on BBC One at 9.30pm

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