Frankie Boyle & Greg Hemphill team up for new film

The film Gasping features Frankie Boyle playing a recovering alcholic who decides to work in a whisky distillery. Picture: TSPL
The film Gasping features Frankie Boyle playing a recovering alcholic who decides to work in a whisky distillery. Picture: TSPL
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THEY are two of the biggest names in the world of Scottish comedy, who have now joined forces to make the jump on to the big screen.

Frankie Boyle is to play a recovering alcoholic in his film debut – mirroring his own battles with booze – which will be directed by Still Game star Greg Hemphill.

Boyle, 41, who is now tee-total after quitting alcohol in his twenties, will play an over-worked businessman given an ultimatum by his wife when his life starts spiralling out of control.

In the film, titled Gasping, he decides that working in a whisky distillery might be the only way to curb his addiction.

Hemphill, who is currently preparing for the long-awaited return of hit comedy Still Game with a run of live shows in Glasgow, said he wrote the film script with Boyle specifically in mind for the part.

Gasping not only marks the film debut of Boyle, who has just launched a new radio sitcom on BBC Radio 4, but the directorial debut of Hemphill, 44. The comedy short, said to be “about conquering your demons”, was filmed around Perth, Glasgow and Dumfries earlier this year.

It has been made by Glasgow-based Hopscotch Films, which hopes to secure a high-profile premiere at a major international film festival before its release.

It will later be shown by BBC Scotland, which has funded the production along with arts agency Creative Scotland.

Boyle, who like Hemphill was born in Glasgow, is said to have developed a drink problem after trying alcohol when he was 15.

Hemphill said: “If you live in Scotland, there is likely to be somebody you know or somebody close to you that has a drink problem.

“It’s something that affects almost everybody.

“Although it is a comedy, just because you make light of something doesn’t meant that you cannot treat it seriously.

“I would be pretty gutted if anyone saw this film and thought that we had not dealt with the issue entirely sympathetically. It’s certainly not a crass or opportunistic gag-fest.

“I think it’s funny, smart and has a bit of heart – but it is also a bit hopeless.

“Frankie is absolutely brilliant in it. That’s why I wrote this with him in mind.”

“This was the first ever thing I’ve directed but I found it a wonderful, thrilling experience. I’d love to do it again.”

Carolynne Sinclair Kidd, the film’s producer, said: “It was a delight working with Greg and Frankie.”

Boyle studied English at Sussex University and was on a teacher-training course in Edinburgh when he started doing stand-up, winning an open mic contest at the Fringe in 1996.

Although he became one of the most popular acts at the Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh and Glasgow, it was not until he started appearing on TV shows like the Live Floor Show and Mock the Week.

Hemphill is best known for his comedy partnership with another Glasgow comic, Ford Kiernan, and their famous creations Chewin’ the Fat and Still Game, the latter of which will be returning after a seven-year hiatus in September with the run of live shows at the new 12,000-capacity Hydro arena.