Still Game to return as Glasgow stage show

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STILL Game double-act Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill have revealed plans for a spectacular comeback after a six-year hiatus - with four shows at Glasgow’s new indoor concert arena.

The two comics are also approaching BBC Scotland to revive their cult TV show, which made household names of Glaswegian pensioners Jack and Victor.

Game for a laugh? Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill confirm Still Game's return. Picture: Robert Perry

Game for a laugh? Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill confirm Still Game's return. Picture: Robert Perry

The pair, widely believed to have had a bitter bust-up behind the scenes, revealed that separate visits to a stage version of the sitcom, which neither were involved in, had persuaded them to stage the reunion, which will reunite the full cast of the TV show.

The pair - appearing at a packed press conference at The Hydro - admitted the prospect of putting on the show at the 12,000-capacity venue, as well as demand from fans, had been key factors in their decision to revive Still Game.

While four shows next September and October have been confirmed so far, it is understood a number of other dates have been held in reserve in case. Hemphill said he hoped that a revived Still Game could last even longer than the original series.

Kiernan, 51, and Hemphill, 43, insisted they had been speaking regularly as they live near each other in the city and their children go to the same school - but feared they would never work together again.

But Kiernan told The Scotsman they had had to give up on Still Game for “mental” reasons, claiming their commitment to the show had left them “burnt-out”.

He said: “It was fatigue that was getting to us in the end. We were devoting practically the whole year to Still Game.

“There are sitcoms out there you can see getting tired. But when we came off the show, the writing was as good as it had ever been. That’s why we’ve no qualms about bringing it back.”

Their now-famous comedy creations date back to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with Jack and Victor first appearing at the Gilded Balloon venue in 1997. Their Still Game stage show went on tour around Britain and Canada and a best-selling DVD was recorded in Glasgow.

The characters also appeared in almost every episode of Chewin’ the Fat, which started out on BBC Radio Scotland before transferring to television in 1999.

By the time the last episode of Chewin’ the Fat was broadcast at the end of 2002, after four series, Still Game had its own spin-off TV show, which ran for six series. But Kiernan and Hemphill have not worked together since a Hogmanay special was broadcast at the end of 2007.

They laughed off questions about how had made the first move to “kiss and make up”, instead insisting that they had been inspired by separate visits to see Sonic Boom Theatre Company’s adaptation of Still Game, which they had given approval to.

Kiernan said: “I went to see it at the Gaiety in Ayr. I was standing outside and a guy and his wife came up and he said to me: ‘What are you doing out here? Should you not be in there?’

“When I told him I had only come to see it he said to his wife: ‘Seven and a half quid and they are not even ****** in it’ and then they left. I did phone Greg to tell him about it.

“We have been talking for about a year about getting back together and doing something. This is the first opportunity we’ve had.

“But we weren’t in contact with one another (before then), we weren’t talking, but that’s another story.

“Apart from anything else, we owe this to the amount of people who have asked: ‘Are you bringing it back, when are you bringing it back?’”

Hemphill said: “We both saw the stage show - Ford saw it in Ayr and myself at the Tron in Glasgow - and we were talking about it and saying that it felt kind of strange going to see it. It was quite a nice catalyst.

“It was kind of niggling us and we were thinking: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to do it again and be pals again?’ We had a very productive chat. We’re very excited about it. It feels nice, it feels good.

“We’re hoping to bring Still Game back on TV in some form. The horrible blocker stopping it has been removed. This is kind of like a resurrection of some sort. Whether it is a series or specials at Christmas or Hogmanay, I don’t know. It will be up to the BBC. The main thing is this is the start of Still Game again, rather than just us coming back to do these shows and going off into the sunset.

“We want to explore these characters again and hopefully we will go to do it for even longer than the first time. The problem was we got burnt out.”

Kiernan and Hemphill are due to meet BBC Scotland chiefs next week with the hope of persuading them to commission a new series or a festive special. BBC officials refused to comment on the prospect - however any possible TV return for Still Game will come after the live shows at the Hydro, from 30 September-3 October next year. Tickets, priced £30 and £45, go on sale on Friday.

Kiernan, who admitted there had been pressure from “every conceivable corner” to revive Still Game, added: “Greg and I live near each other, we live two streets away from each other, our kids are at the same school and going to the same places.

“It was the Hydro getting built and being there. The conversation started to get around to the fact that we’ve been away for six years and the comedy game has been turned into an arena sport.

“We just started talking about whether it would be possible to play that room and it’s grown arms and legs. We’ve booked four days at the moment and will see how we get on.

“We wanted to play the Hydro because it’s the biggest thing that we’ve got. We want to come out and see if the fans are interested in coming to see us. We’ve got four shows booked at the minute, but we’ll see how that goes.”