Still Game favourites have started the long goodbye to their fans with the opening instalment of a farewell run of live shows in Glasgow - set in an alternative world to the hit TV show.
Craiglang’s favourites, who appeared to be all but killed off at the end of the TV series, were reincarnated in surreal style as the 10,000 crowd at the Hydro arena joined them for nearly two hours in the arena afterlife.
Jack and Victor, who were last seen heading up Ben Lomond before fading away at the emotional climax to the TV series, were reunited with the rest of their departed pals from the Clansman for a fun-filled and filthy farewell fling masterminded by creators Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill.
The show, which has begun a 15-night run at the Hydro, pokes fun at everything from sexism, political correctness and the "snowflake generation" and religion, and even explores whether Jack and Victor were more than just good friends.
Several familiar faces made surprise appearances, there were nods to classic movies like Ghost and The Wizard of Oz, much-loved characters from Chewin’ the Fat won roars of recognition when they appeared either on stage or in specially-filmed video segments, and the most unexpected celebrity cameo in Still Game's history almost brought the house down.
The third and final Hydro show was a notably more lavish affair than the previous productions at the venue, with breathtaking song and dance routines, dazzling special effects and the characters taking it in turns to enjoy heavenly experiences and face down hellish visions.
But there was also an air of melancholy as the characters traded familiar insults with each other for a final time before taking a final bow together.
Writing in the official programme, Kiernan and Hemphill recalled the “crazy journey” Still Game had been on since the first love shows was staged before an audience of just eight at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. More than half a million people will have seen their three shows at the Hydro by the time the current run ends on 13 October.
They wrote in the programme: “The show will always be much more than a sitcom for us.
“It’s about friendship, community, and the need to look out for each other.
“We hope Still Game has shown you that old age is nothing to fear, it comes to is all. And most important of all, try to have as much fun as Jack and Victor.”
Hemphill insisted there was no chance of Still Game ever making a comeback after the current run, despite the huge success of the return of Jack and Victor from a lengthy Still Game hiatus at the same venue in 2014..
Speaking before the opening night of the current run, Hemphill said: “We were a bit hesitant to commit to the idea we had for this Hydro show, because it is very different, but once we did we went at it with gusto and we’ve had such a laugh writing it.
“It’s time to move on after this. There’s other things to do.
These characters have been amazing to us, but what we don’t want to do is take the p*** and do the rock star thing of having six retirements.
“We’re at the end of the story now. That’s something that you don’t mess with lightly.”