Family (ITV1): PERHAPS ITV schedulers thought they were being clever screening the opening episode of their new London gangster drama on the same night that the godfather of Walford, Dirty Den, returned to EastEnders.

All it proved was that it will take more than newcomers the Cutlers to overshadow Dirty Den, even if one of his Albert Square successors, Martin Kemp, was starring in the ITV drama.

The subtext of Family is that the family that slays together stays together. It opened with an on-screen definition of the word family as "people united by certain convictions" - for robbery, murder and arson, judging by the activities of this particular family business.

Dave Cutler (David Calder) is the chairman of the firm, the father whose son Joey (Kemp) happily manages the network of gaming machines, pubs and protection. Now they're branching out into posh nosh, putting the frighteners on the owner of a trendy restaurant so they can offer him protection, in return for 40 per cent of the business.

There's a Cutler daughter too, plus assorted wives, mistresses and children. All very cosy. Then the prodigal son turns up. Dave returns from America, where he stormed off after his father dumped his wife and moved in his mistress. Now Dave arrives on the doorstep and declares, "I wanna come 'ome".

This is a family that suffers from an incomplete knowledge of the alphabet as there are some letters they never use. They talk in a sort of cockney shorthand, saying things like, "Gotta keep the ol' gal 'appy, 'aven't we?", or "'e's a mowffy bastard and 'e'll grass".

Clearly, Dave, whose wife and son are still in the US, is going to cause trouble. Before you can say old bill, he's chucked the restaurant manager out of the balcony for daring to tell him to stop using his mobile phone in a no-phone zone.

Dave is a bloke who drops rivals from a great height as easily as he drops his haitches in conversation. Those who find people using phones in public an irritation will applaud his action, but the Metropolitan Police take a dim view of such behaviour.

Fortunately, the Cutlers employ home helps to clear up their mess, and Uncle Ronnie ensures that the comatose victim never comes round.

Whether Joey comes round to welcoming Dave home is debatable. He resents his brother muscling in on the family business again. If the Cutlers are to play at happy families, the situation, as they'd say, "'as gotta be sor-id".