Yes you’re absolutely right. Mealey didn’t get involved with RF until after Early Doors so that’s where the timeline was confused.To be fair, Craig Cash had already co-created The Royle Family with Caroline Ahearne and Henry Normal about 4 years before Early Doors began.
More evidence that Penelope Keith is a liability.They had a big problem getting this commissioned, BBC wouldn't touch it initially so the writers tried to bring a well known comedian (PK) in as executive producer to add some star backing, but he started to rewrite it and be a total d*ck about everything. So they ditched him, stuck to their guns and eventually BBC took it on. So close to becoming a script sat gathering dust on a shelf.