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Series / Life of Riley

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A British family sitcom staring Caroline Quentin and Neil Dudgeon as Maddy and Jim Riley, a pair of recently married divorcées who collectively form an elaborate and dysfunctional family tree. There’s Maddy’s nerdy and effeminate son Ted Jackson (Patrick Nolan), Jim’s typically teenage children Danny (Taylor Fawcett) and Katy (Lucinda Dryzak) and their official baby daughter Rosie (Ava and Neve Lamb). Occasionally dropping in to see them are Maddy’s ex and Ted’s father, the hilariously unreliable Robbie (Mark Powley), Maddy’s eccentric mother Margaret Gregory (Marcia Warren) and the Weavers, the next door neighbours who aren’t as happy as they would like everyone to think.

Not to be confused with the Web Comic of the same name, or with the '40s-'50s American radio/TV sitcom starring William Bendix.


This show contains examples of:

  • Adorably Precocious Child: Ted becomes this in season 3.
    Ted: I’ve looked at your bills and statements and I’m worried you’re not getting the best rates.
    Maddy: And I’m worried you’re not getting a childhood.
  • Awful Wedded Life: The Weavers; it’s the one advantage the Rileys have over them.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Despite his plummeting school grades, Danny is exceptional with finances. After passing his maths test, he is able to calculate exactly how much his parents should pay him including VAT and discounts.
  • Chubby Mama, Skinny Papa: Maddy and Jim respectively (Sorry Carol).
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ted is clearly not normal. The boy has a bizarre fascination for cleaning and knitting patterns and everyone agrees that he needs professional help. His friend Anthony shares his nerdy and cleaning habits.
    • Maddy’s mum Margret also has a few foibles that set her apart from other elderly ladies; playing chicken in her mobility scooter for one.
  • Control Freak: Everyone thinks Maddy is this. Turns out she ‘has’ to be.
  • Advertisement:
  • Cool Old Lady: Margret loves the modern world, where an old woman can completely reinvent herself, with trashy clothes and pimped out mobility scooters.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In order to get Adam into the local school, the Weavers befriended everyone in the street, worked their way through the socio-economic structure of the area, took two very well paid and important jobs, established themselves as vital assets to the community and used their influence to extend the area boundaries just sufficiently to include their house...and then they conceived him.
  • Dumb Blonde: Katy is extremely absent minded and can’t even remember how she got from one destination to another.
  • Dysfunctional Family: As expected.
  • Extreme Doormat: Jim is virtually incapable of saying ‘No’, even to giving his own daughter’s hand away to the boy she’s trying to dump.
  • Faint in Shock: Anthony is prone to fainting, usually as a result of Maddy unintentionally scaring him.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: Maddy pretends to do this when Jim tries to smuggle in some coffee after he had promised to give it up.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Free the Frogs: And the rabbits and the locusts and the guinea pigs and the llamas and…well…pretty much anything Katy sees.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Averted. After one of Jim’s friends dies, she keeps making inappropriate comments and is forced to bite her tongue all the way through the funeral.
  • Genius Ditz: Despite her hypocrisies, absent-mindedness and tenuous grasp of most subjects, Katy is quite insightful when it comes to figuring out what Danny is up to and a surprisingly talented artist.
    • Adam Weaver (Jordan Clarke) is hopeless at maths, can barely spell his own name and is easy to take advantage of. However, he is exceptional in other school subjects and is a naturally gifted DJ.
    • One time character Russell (Lewis Osborne) behaves like a lobotomized zombie, yet he is apparently quite knowledgeable about films.
  • Granola Girl: Katy, albeit an extremely short-sighted, uncommitted and hypocritical one.
  • Gratuitous French: Katy claims to speak French, but has no idea what she’s saying. To her, Mercredi (Wednesday) is a swear word.
  • Happily Married: Surprisingly Maddy and Jim, which is rare for a sitcom (The Weavers are a different story).
  • Happy Marriage Charade: The Weavers. By the third season they’ve pretty much given up on it.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Danny and Katy.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: Ted has this in spades.
  • Killer Rabbit: Maddy visits an old lady’s home to feed the cat while she’s in hospital…BIG MISTAKE!
  • Manipulative Bastard: Danny on occasions.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Happens in the first season to Katy, Danny’s girlfriend and Maddy.
  • Neat Freak: Ted finds every chore a pleasure.
  • No Social Skills: Maddy is quite awkward when it comes to other people and usually ends up either bewildering or insulting them.
  • Porn Stash: Danny has both a hidden and online stash, which Katy and Ted occasionally use to threaten him or ruin his love life with. He appears to have several stashes, including under his bed and behind the hot water tank. Ted apparently also has a secret stash...of knitting catalogues (which Maddy considers to be even more degrading to women).
  • Shipper on Deck: Maddy likes giving marital advice to the Weavers when she sees them fighting (Not that she’s any good at it).
  • Smug Snake: Roger Weaver (Richard Lumsden) likes squeezing every last penny he can out of the Rileys every time he helps them (well, he ‘is’ a lawyer).
  • Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male: An old friend of Jim tries to get a fling out of him. The Rileys scare her off by threatening to move the entire family in with her.
  • Theme Tune: The Lightning Seeds – ‘The Life of Riley’ (Duh!)
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Robbie drops by quite often in the series and gets on surprisingly well with Jim.