Still Game’s fans have been warned that “the shadow of death looms large” in the new series of the hit comedy - as its creators admitted they have been tempted to place secret bets on who is going to be killed off.
Devotees of the hit comedy, which will return to the nation’s TV screens on March 8, have been told to brace themselves for “shocking and poignant scenes” in a much darker batch of episodes than previously.
The arrival of a chilling new undertaker is said to be put the fear of death into the ageing denizens of Craiglang - and it has been confirmed that at least one character will meet their maker before the end of the series.
Iain Duncan Sheathing, the undertaker played by stand-up comic Bruce Morton, is being billed as “the living embodiment of the Grim Reeper.”
Ford Kiernan, who plays Jack and writes the series with Greg Hemphill, said of Morton’s character: “He dresses like the hooded claw.
"He almost hovers when he walks and he has a sinister touch about him, a blank deadness in his eyes.
“As far as the character was concerned, Bruce embodied Sheathing immediately – which is a strange word to use when you’re describing a funeral director.”
Kiernan admits he was taken aback when he heard that Still Game fans were placing bets on who was going to be killed off after news looked out that “death will come calling” for the Craiglang locals in the new series.
He added: I was surprised because the only other thing the bookies take bets on are reality singing TV shows and sport. It could be anybody.
“I mean Greg and I were both even money at one point and I was tempted to go and have a bet myself but I’d need to go in with a mask on.”
Hemphill added: “The bookies went crazy. It was fun and exciting, and I was very tempted to call up my distant cousin and put some money on, but I fought the urge.
“I didn’t want to end up like Joey Barton and get kicked out of the BBC for betting on my own show. I hope the speculation sees someone win a couple of pound on it.”
Hemphill, who launched Still Game with Kiernan at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 21 years ago, warned its fans that they should “expect the unexpected” in the new series.
He added: “It’s always nice to retain an element of surprise and keep the audience guessing, but keeping the bits of the show that the fans love.
"As the show goes on we do take care not to take it off in a direction which wouldn’t work for the characters.
"The thing is the audience know the characters as well as we do now so we have to really make sure that the episodes are fun, believable and surprising.”
Gavin Mitchell, who plays Boabby, the barman at the Clansman, said: “Old and new fans will love it as this series has some brilliant storylines, fantastic comedy set-pieces and some new characters.
“The funeral director which changes quite a few things in Craiglang...forever. The shadow of death looms large – who will die, maybe one, maybe more, could it be Boabby?”
Mark Cox, who plays Craiglang’s resident miser, Tam Mullen, said: “We’ve got some new characters, including some new darker energies, shall we say, in the shape of an undertaker.
“This character is brilliant. The very nature of the demographic of the show, which is made up of old people, means they’re unnerved by the arrival of a new funeral director. He’s not that bad - or is he?”