It was thought that it would continue in spite of Aherne's absence, but Ricky Tomlinson also quit the series, to ensure that it did not continue without creator and co-star Aherne's input.
Both Aherne and Tomlinson returned in 2006 for the special "The Queen of Sheba", which Aherne co-wrote.
This is a similar premise to the plot of The Royle Family, which sees the family sitting around to watch TV.
Caroline Aherne exited the show following the third series in 2000, wishing to move on to new projects.
We meet over lunch at the south London rehearsal space where she, Grandage and an ensemble that includes David Walliams as Bottom are working on the play.
They are currently in the first of five weeks of rehearsals.
This prompted Ricky Tomlinson to also quit, though both returned in 2006, when Aherne and Cash began working together again, and wrote the Queen of Sheba.
It was then thought the show would return in April 2012, with a special Easter episode, though again this failed to materialise and it wasn't until December 2012 that "Barbara's Old Ring" aired, almost a year and a half after it had been commissioned.
'I’m so scared I’m going to be that batty actress who has loads of dogs and smells of wee.
I hope that’s not going to be me, but I’m heading that way.’ So says Sheridan Smith, 32, the Bafta- and double Olivier-winner about to appear as Titania in Michael Grandage’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the West End.
She played the pink-loving, pooch-cuddling heroine Elle Woods – a part created by Reese Witherspoon in the film from which the show was adapted – so enchantingly that she won her first Olivier for it, in 2011.
Elle hailed from California, whereas Smith comes from ‘a little village called Epworth, right bang between Doncaster and Scunthorpe’; both Elle and Smith are seemingly flighty on the outside, yet possess heart and a steely resolve.
Jordan ‘The Hulk’ Ring was on the show a few years ago and caught the eye of The Cilla actress, he claims.