Jack and Victor to struggle in a freezing flat in new Still Game show

Greg Hemphill and Ford Kiernan will be bringing Jack and Victor back to the Hydro this weekend.
Greg Hemphill and Ford Kiernan will be bringing Jack and Victor back to the Hydro this weekend.
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STILL Game favourites Jack and Victor are set to do battle with the impact of a big freeze - but their creators have promised their new stage show will be kept free of politics.

Still Game favourites Jack and Victor are set to do battle with a big freeze - but their creators have promised their return to the live arena will be steer clear of politics.

The Still Game reunion in 2014 broke all box office records at Glasgow's Hydro arena.

The Still Game reunion in 2014 broke all box office records at Glasgow's Hydro arena.

Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill have revealed that the Craiglang pensioners will find themselves struggling to stay warm in the latest instalment of the hit comedy.

They say the show, which opens on Saturday at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, will be set in “real-time” Glasgow, when people are struggling to stay warm and still paying off the cost of the festive season.

But while elements of pathos will be present, the pair have vowed to deliver to the fans “a show they can talk about for a long time to come.”

They have also promised their followers a “holiday” from a fast-changing political landscape totally transformed from when the first show at the Hydro was staged in September 2014 - immediately after the independence referendum.

Kiernan and Hemphill, who launched Still Game at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 20 years ago, created six series for BBC Scotland before a rift between the pair saw a seven year hiatus before the return of Jack and Victor again.

The record-breaking success of the initial Hydro run paved the way for Still Game’s return on TV last year. But Hemphill said the pair are under more pressure this time around.

He said: “Although we hadn’t done Still Game for seven years the last time, there was an enormous goodwill in the room. We had that luxury and people welcomed us back with open arms. This time we don’t have that.

“People are spending a lot of money to come and see the show. We have to work hard and make sure everybody is on their game. We’re our own harshest critics. We don’t want to put anything out half-baked.”

Kiernan said: “The last show was a reunion, this is more of a big night out. We’ve got a phenomenally faithful following. They’ll not be disappointed. We’ve gone out of our way to give them a show they can talk about for a long time to come.

“We’re doing it in real time. It’s February and the story is all about how Jack and Victor are dealing with the cold. It’s a really bad winter and they are trying to hatch some kind of plan to stay warm. A light dusting of snow outside the Hydro would be nice.”

Hemphill added: “We sometimes have scenes that are a little bit downbeat and drama-driven in the TV show, but when you come to a place like the Hydro you want to give people a good time from start to finish.

“While there are elements of pathos in there you tend to go go about them a little bit more light-footedly. We don’t want to surprise our upset everybody. It’s February, it’s bloody freezing, the Christmas bills are in, but people are here to have a good time.”

The Still Game duo say are mindful of the fact that the new show will be unveiled weeks after the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House and while many Scots are coming to terms with the impact of the Brexit vote.
However the first Hydro show, which reunited the full cast of regulars from The Clansman, was staged immediately after the independence referendum and deliberately avoided any mention of the result.

Hemphill said: "That was deliberate, because we wanted to bring people together. They had 18 months of debating with their family and friends. It was time to put it to bed.
"Things are changing so dramatically now. If you wrote something for the fourth of February by the time of the fifteenth it would be absolutely irrelevant.

"We've always thought that if you want political comment and that kind of thing you should watching things like 'Have I Got News For You,' shows that are designed on a weekly basis to keep up with the changing landscape. Still Game was never that.

"People will be coming to the wrong show if they are looking for politics. It's not because we don't want to tackle it, it's because we think the show does something else and serves a different purpose."

Kiernan said: "The whole about Still Game is it is a holiday for the viewer to get away from all that nonsense and not have to listen to it.

The amount of politics on television now compared to three years ago is ridiculous. I never paid any attention to politics before, but had no option when Trump started.

"Apart from anything else, it divides the audience. We don't do football, religion and politics. There's no point."

Both Kiernan and Hemphill admit they have been too busy writing and rehearsal the new live show, which runs until 16 February, to catch the long-awaited sequel to Trainspotting, despite its obvious echoes with Still Game in terms of public affection for the main characters.

Kiernan said: "The new Trainspotting film is a bit like when we did Still Game again because we'd been away for seven years.

"It's a bit like muscle memory - you've done it for so long it doesn't matter how long you did it you can fall back into it.

"It's such a huge movie. I can remember when it first came out I didn't really take to it, but everybody was raving about.

By the third time I saw it I thought it was absolutely genius - I loved it to bits. It's right up there with some of my favourite movies. It must have been daunting for them to go and pick it up again."

Hemphill said: "I'm definitely going to see it this week, I'm desperate to see it and I like going to the cinema in the morning.

"From what I've heard and read story of the new film seems to be about ageing. Still Game has always been about that, but our characters are trapped in time.

"It's a weird bubble to be in, but it's like The Simpsons in that respect. Time doesn't really move on for Jack and Victor."