Life of Riley (British TV series)

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Life of Riley is a British comedy television series, shown on BBC One and BBC HD. The show stars Caroline Quentin and Neil Dudgeon as a recently married couple, and is set around their dysfunctional family. The show also features the couple's four children, Danny (Taylor Fawcett), Katy (Lucinda Dryzek), Ted (Patrick Nolan), and Rosie (Ava and Neve Lamb). After three series it was confirmed that the show had been cancelled.[1]

Life of Riley
Life of Riley (TV series).jpg
Life of Riley titles for Series 1
Created byGeorgia Pritchett
Written byGeorgia Pritchett
Directed byMartin Dennis
StarringCaroline Quentin
Neil Dudgeon
Opening theme"The Life of Riley"
ComposerWillie Dowling - Jackdaw 4
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series3
No. of episodes20 (list of episodes)
Executive producersAlan Tyler
Rosemary MaGowan
ProducerCatherine Bailey
Production locationsPacific Quay Studios,
Glasgow, Scotland and 75/73 park avenue south
CinematographyJohn Record
EditorFergus MacKinnon
Running time30 minutes
Production companiesCatherine Bailey Productions Limited
BBC Scotland
DistributorOutright Distribution Ltd.
Original networkBBC One/BBC HD
Picture format16:9 (HDTV)
Original release8 January 2009 (2009-01-08) –
1 June 2011 (2011-06-01)

It is not to be confused with The Life of Riley, a 1940s–1950s radio show, or with a 1950s American television series which starred William Bendix as Chester A. Riley.


The first episode aired on 8 January 2009, and was shown on Thursdays at 8:00pm on BBC One. Each episode of Life of Riley also aired in high-definition on BBC HD. Series 2 was shown on Wednesdays at 7:30pm from 17 March 2010. Series 3 was shown on Wednesdays at 8:30pm from 13 April 2011.[2]


The six episode series was commissioned by Lucy Lumsden, BBC Controller, Comedy Commissioning. The show was produced by Catherine Bailey Productions Limited for BBC Scotland, and distributed by Outright Distribution Ltd. The show was written by Georgia Pritchett, and filmed at Pacific Quay Studios in Glasgow, Scotland[3] and on location (for example at Joppa, North-East of Edinburgh).[4] Also briefly filmed on 75 Park Avenue South.

The theme music is a cover version of The Lightning Seeds' song, "The Life of Riley".


Jim (Dudgeon) and Maddy Riley are newly-weds. Jim has two children from a previous relationship – teenagers Katy and Danny – whilst Maddy also has a child of her own – Ted – from her previous marriage; baby Rosie is the child of Jim and Maddy. The couple often try to compete with their next-door neighbours, the Weavers, who are the other principal characters in the series.

Series 1 was released on DVD on 29 March 2010. Series 2 was released on DVD on 18 April 2011 along with the transmission of the new series. Series 3 was released on DVD in late 2011.



Critical receptionEdit

Reviews for the first series were almost universally negative. The Herald described it as "a palpable flop" and "unfunny in any age".[5] The Daily Telegraph noted that it was "another half-hour firmly on Planet Sitcom: that strange world where people behave not like anybody in real life, but merely like people in other sitcoms".[6] The Daily Record called it a "lazy insult of a comedy".[7] The Northern Echo observed that "there was something missing for a comedy – jokes";[8] The Daily Mirror comments that there are "some witty moments but these are drowned out by more regular unfunny happenings, so unimaginative and staid it's embarrassing".[9] The Independent headlined its review of the opening episode by calling it "a marital comedy divorced from wit".[10] Most vehemently The Sunday Mail called the show "about as funny as inflamed piles".[11]

The second series of the show was well received by audiences, with viewing figures reaching nearly 6 million, a much higher proportion of the viewing public than the BBC usually receives in this time slot.[12] However, it again received regular negative reviews from critics. The Herald declared that 'it lacked any of the basic ingredients of good sitcom'.[13] The Guardian described the show as a "tired effort"[14] The Scotsman reviewed it by noting that it "feels like a parody, this time of the kind of bland, mechanical, family sitcom they supposedly don't make anymore".[15]

The final series garnered still more negative press comment. The Metro said that the programme was "like a cereal advert that has been spun out into a full-length TV comedy", and that its inoffensive nature felt like being "smothered by cushions"[1]

Series overviewEdit

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
168 January 2009 (2009-January-08)12 February 2009 (2009-February-12)
2617 March 2010 (2010-March-17)21 April 2010 (2010-April-21)
3813 April 2011 (2011-April-13)1 June 2011 (2011-June-01)


Series 1 (2009)Edit

Life of Riley's first series comprises six episodes, each of which are thirty minutes long.

No. # Title Directed by Written by Original airdate
11"In the Family Way"Georgia PritchettGeorgia Pritchett8 January 2009 (2009-01-08)
22"New Beginnings"Georgia PritchettGeorgia Pritchett15 January 2009 (2009-01-15)
33"The Ex Factor"Georgia PritchettGeorgia Pritchett22 January 2009 (2009-01-22)
44"Beating the Bully"Georgia PritchettGeorgia Pritchett29 January 2009 (2009-01-29)
55"The Little White Lie"Georgia PritchettGeorgia Pritchett5 February 2009 (2009-02-05)
66"The Worst Best Man"Georgia PritchettGeorgia Pritchett12 February 2009 (2009-02-12)

Series 2 (2010)Edit

In May 2009, it was confirmed that the Life of Riley would have a second series. It began airing on 17 March 2010.

No. # Title Directed by Written by Original airdate
71"Just The Two of Us"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett, Paul Alexander17 March 2010 (2010-03-17)
82"Crowded House"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett24 March 2010 (2010-03-24)
93"Nine to Five"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett31 March 2010 (2010-03-31)
104"Is She Really Going Out With Him?"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett, Dan Caster, Paul Howell7 April 2010 (2010-04-07)
115"School's Out"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett14 April 2010 (2010-04-14)
126"Crazy"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett21 April 2010 (2010-04-21)

Series 3 (2011)Edit

A third series had been in production from October 2010; it began airing on 13 April 2011.[2]

No. # Title Directed by Written by Original airdate
131"The Boyfriend"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett13 April 2011 (2011-04-13)
142"Letter of the Law"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett20 April 2011 (2011-04-20)
153"Interference"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett27 April 2011 (2011-04-27)
164"Snake"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett4 May 2011 (2011-05-04)
175"Lost in Translation"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett11 May 2011 (2011-05-11)
186"Absent Friends"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett18 May 2011 (2011-05-18)
197"The Bug"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett25 May 2011 (2011-05-25)
208"The Good Mother"Richard BodenGeorgia Pritchett1 June 2011 (2011-06-01)


Episode No. Airdate Total Viewers BBC Weekly Rank
1.1 8 January 2009 5,320,000 16
1.2 15 January 2009 4,930,000 26
1.3 22 January 2009 Under 4,650,000 N/A
1.4 29 January 2009 Under 4,780,000 N/A
1.5 5 February 2009 Under 5,160,000 N/A
1.6 12 February 2009 Under 4,620,000 N/A
Episode No. Airdate Total Viewers BBC Weekly Rank
2.1 17 March 2010 5,930,000 8
2.2 24 March 2010 5,140,000 15
2.3 31 March 2010 5.010,000 15
2.4 7 April 2010 4,790,000 20
2.5 14 April 2010 4,580,000 19
2.6 21 April 2010 5,060,000 16
Episode No. Airdate Total Viewers BBC Weekly Rank
3.1 13 April 2011 4,730,000 16
3.2 20 April 2011 3,010,000[16] N/A
3.3 27 April 2011 3,890,000[17] N/A
3.4 4 May 2011 3,280,000[18] N/A
3.5 11 May 2011 3,700,000[19] N/A
3.6 18 May 2011 3,010,000[16] N/A
3.7 25 May 2011 3,430,000[20] N/A
3.8 1 June 2011 Under 3,320,000 N/A

International broadcastEdit

The series is currently[when?] airing on RTÉ One on Sundays in an early morning time slot.


  1. ^ "Caroline Quentin's Life of Riley will not return for fourth series". British Comedy Guide. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  2. ^ a b "In Production". Catherine Bailey Ltd. July 2010. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Two brand new sitcoms from BBC Scotland - Life of Riley and The Old Guys". BBC Press Office. 19 March 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2009.
  4. ^ (2015) Filmed here - 2008 Life of Riley, Martin Denis Archived 17 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine Film Edinburgh, Retrieved 17 February 2015
  5. ^ Belcher, David (16 January 2009). "Life of Riley: unfunny in any age". The Herald. Archived from the original on 7 June 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  6. ^ Walton, James (8 January 2009). "Last night on television: Victorian Farm (BBC2) - Life of Riley (BBC1)". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 23 January 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  7. ^ "Paul English". The Daily Record. 22 February 1999. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  8. ^ "Riley tedious". The Northern Echo. 15 January 2010. Archived from the original on 22 January 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  9. ^ Simon, Jane (8 January 2009). "We love sitcoms: The Life of Riley BBC1, 8pm". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  10. ^ Hanks, Robert (9 January 2009). "Last Night's Television: A marital comedy divorced from wit". The Independent. London. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  11. ^ "Scotland's Best Read Sunday Newspaper". Sunday Mail. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  12. ^ Parker, Robin (18 March 2010). "BBC1 enjoys Life of Riley with 5.8m". Broadcast Now. Emap Ltd. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  13. ^ Smith, Mark (22 March 2010). "The living-room comedy is dead". The Herald. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  14. ^ Groskop, Viv (18 March 2010). "Life of Riley: why are most family sitcoms so unfunny?". The Guardian. London.
  15. ^ Whitelaw, Paul (2 April 2010). "TV review: Laughter Shock/Life of Riley/Burnistoun". The Scotsman. Edinburgh.
  16. ^ a b Television-Ratings.INFO (20 April 2011). "UK Overnight Daily TV BARB Ratings – Wednesday, April 20, 2011". Television-Ratings.INFO. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  17. ^ Television-Ratings.INFO (27 April 2011). "UK Overnight Daily TV BARB Ratings – Wednesday, April 27, 2011". Television-Ratings.INFO. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  18. ^ Published Thursday, 5 May 2011, 10:41 BST (5 May 2011). "'The Only Way Is Essex' finale fetches 1.4m - The Only Way Is Essex News - Reality TV". Digital Spy. Retrieved 25 May 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ Television-Ratings.INFO (11 May 2011). "UK Overnight Daily TV BARB Ratings – Wednesday, May 11, 2011". Television-Ratings.INFO. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  20. ^ Published Thursday, 26 May 2011, 10:02 BST (26 May 2011). "Frosty 'Apprentice' firing seen by 7.5m - The Apprentice News - Reality TV". Digital Spy. Retrieved 25 May 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External linksEdit