It was pretty brave of Gold to schedule this one-off film on primetime on a Saturday night in the run-up to Christmas. But then the channel had reason to be ambitious. Their previous all-star Agatha Christie spoof starring Johnny Vegas and Sian Gibson, Murder on the Blackpool Express, was the highest-ever rating show on Gold. They will be hoping for the same here. And they might just get it.Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 16th December 2018
Another crude, silly and very funny outing.Jeff Robson, i Newspaper, 15th December 2018
Gold is primarily a reruns channel, so it's no surprise that its big commission is slightly old-fashioned in feel.Steve Bennett, Chortle, 15th December 2018
I'd been looking forward to Rovers. Anyone who loved The Royle Family would have been similarly interested to see it as it promised us a comedy about the dreary lives of the working classes, re-uniting Dave and Barbara (Craig Cash as Pete and Sue Johnston as Doreen), but it's there that comparisons with The Royle Family, or with any other decent comedy, have to end.
Rovers was a disappointment. Perhaps it's just a very gentle comedy, which seems to be the trend just now with recent BBC sitcoms such as Boomers and Mum. But are such shows "gentle" or just not particularly funny?
Rovers should have found it hard to be gentle, being set amid the northern English working class, whose lives seem to have been drained of all colour except the blue of their football team. This scenario should offer lavish opportunity for political comment and scathing observations - but there were none, unless we count a local woman who'd been "sloshing it about" and shamelessly wheeled her resultant "black baby" around a carpet showroom.
But Harry Enfield did this with his Wayne and Waynetta Slob characters in the 1990s, when Waynetta professed a need for "a little brown baby" so she could acquire imagined spectacular benefits from the council. There was little that was new in Rovers. Even its theme, melancholy brass band music, the nostalgic soundtrack of northern England, seemed pinched from Corrie.Julie McDowall, The National, 28th May 2016
New comedy Rovers sees the reunion of Royle Family members Craig Cash and Sue Johnston. Cash stars in the role of Pete Moat a die-hard fan of non-league football team Redbridge Rovers and a man who is part of a motley crew of supporters who huddle together in the team's clubhouse. Among them is his best friend Tel (Steve Spiers) who recently came out as gay and now Pete has to share him with super-stylish boyfriend Mel (Seb Cardinal). Then there's twin brothers Bruce and Lee (writers David Earl and Joe Wilkinson) who enjoy winding Pete up and the brilliant Ronnie (Mark Silcox) who runs Redbridge Rovers' very meagre club shop. Overseeing everything is Doreen (Johnston) the queen of the clubhouse who offers up pints alongside salubrious gossip about the team's captain. As well as playing Pete, Cash also serves as director as he has done on previous Sky sitcoms After Hours and The Cafe with Rovers sharing the gentle vibe that both of those comedies offered. Rovers is particularly reminiscent of The Cafe as it is set almost exclusively in one venue and features a variety of colourful characters having fairly mundane conversations with one another. Earl and Wilkinson's script is extremely anecdotal and at times is too low-key for its own good. I feel where it works the most is when the characters are discussing their love of the football team and what it would be like to get to the heady heights of the Evo-Stick Premier League. The small scale nature of the club shop was also a nice little running gag which was aided by Silcox's performance as the deadpan Ronnie. I do feel it's too early to judge whether Rovers will be a success or a failure especially seeing as Earl and Wilkinson had to introduce a cavalcade of characters in one fell swoop. But although there were some funny moments nestled within Rovers I have to say that there wasn't really one character who I wanted to root for. Whilst I'm assuming that Pete is meant to be the character we sympathise with his jealousy towards Mel coupled with his astounding stupidity meant that he was hard to warm to. It also didn't help that Craig Cash was essentially playing the same character we've seen him portray in both The Royle Family and Early Doors. In fact everyone from Johnston to Wilkinson to Spiers was playing a similar version of characters we've seen them play in superior shows which made Rovers feel a little low rent. So, while it's not without its charm, I feel Rovers is destined to nestle in the second division of British sitcoms and will never be promoted to the premier league.Matt, The Custard TV, 28th May 2016