Comedy star Jack Docherty on the return of Scot Squad on Hogmanay and 10 years of the much-loved ‘mockumentary’

Like millions of other Scots, Jack Docherty has cherished memories of sitting in front of a TV set on Hogmanay to watch an annual comedy treat unfold.

Jack Docherty will return as Chief Commissioner Cameron Miekelson in the Hogmanay special of Scot Squad. Picture: Jamie Simpson
Jack Docherty will return as Chief Commissioner Cameron Miekelson in the Hogmanay special of Scot Squad. Picture: Jamie Simpson

Now he feels like he is following in the footsteps of Rikki Fulton and his Reverend I.M. Jolly alter-ego when his own celebrated comedy creation makes a comeback tonight.

Cameron Miekelson, the chief commissioner at the helm of the fictional police force in the hit BBC Scotland comedy Scot Squad, has won Docherty a whole new generation of fans, decades after he starred in the cult Channel 4 sketch show Absolutely.

The bumbling and gaffe-prone police chief has proved so popular that he has starred in several spin-offs, including a travelogue and two election specials, where he put Scotland’s political through their paces.

Picture shows Scot Squad characters Officer Sharon McLelvie (PHOEBE CONNOLLY), Sgt Karen Ann Millar (KAREN BARTKE), Chief Commissioner Cameron Miekelson (JACK DOCHERTY), PC Eleanor Hipgrove (DANIELLE JAM), PC Sarah Fletcher (SALLY REID) and PC Jack McLaren (JORDAN YOUNG) - (C) The Comedy Unit - Photographer: Jamie Simpson

Miekelson and his colleagues will now be filling the slot vacated by long-running Hogmanay staple Only An Excuse?.

With the Scot Squad special still being edited when we speak, Docherty is not quite sure what will end up on screen.

But he says: “A Hogmanay special does make me feel a bit like Rikki Fulton.

"It was such a big thing a kid watching Scotch and Wry on Hogmanay, so to actually be the new year’s eve comedy show is really exciting.

Scot Squad is a fly on the wall style mockumentary comedy series following the life of Scottish police officers from different areas of the force led by Chief Constable Cameron Miekelson (Jack Docherty).

“It was such a big thing for people of all ages back then because you couldn’t really record things. If you wanted to see something you had to stay in.

“We’ve only just finished filming the Hogmanay Scot Squad so I don’t know what sketches will have made it into the final cut. But all the usual characters will be doing Christmas and Hogmanay-related stuff.

“The show is semi-improvised. It’s written but you don’t have a script with any dialogue.

“You just have a page or half a page with a description of what happens in a scene – it’s very much a broad outline.

“I enjoyed it right from the start - doing anything where you don’t actually have to learn your lines is my kind of job.

“Half the fear of acting is forgetting your lines, whereas if you’re improvising that’s not really an issue.

"You definitely get better at it the more you do it. It’s harder to go back to written stuff, in a way.”

The Hogmanay special will be a precursor for a brand new five-part series of Scot Squad, the seventh since the pilot episode was broadcast nearly a decade ago.

Docherty says: “You have no idea what’s going to catch on and what doesn’t. I’ve done a couple of pilots for things I thought would have gone on forever but they never made it past the pilot stage.

"We all thought the Scot Squad pilot was solid and there were good characters there, but you’re at the mercy of public opinion.

"To have done seven series and all these different spin-offs like the election spin-offs, I didn’t really see that coming, but it’s brilliant that it has happened.

“The police do seem to like it. It’s slightly worrying when you meet they and they say: ‘You must have a good inside guy because all that stuff you do is so true to life.’ The man I’m playing is a lunatic.

"But I always call it a workplace sitcom, it’s not a big satire on the police. I think people like it so much because there are sympathetic characters muddling through and trying to get on with things.”

Docherty and Miekelson went viral during Scot Squad’s last series thanks to an extended apology sketch which saw the chief dig himself deeper and deeper into a cringe-making hole despite his best efforts at political correctness.

The new series, which launches on 6 January, sees Miekelson trying to reinvent himself “the wokest commissioner on the planet.”

Docherty says: “There’s a bit of a theme with Miekelson at the moment. There’s such an issue of what you can and can’t say that he would try as hard as he possibly could to get things write, but even at the most basic level he gets it wrong, by talking about the equality, diversity and inclusion boys and the gender equality bird.”Docherty admits he would relish the chance to do more spin-offs with Miekelson, even into his retirement from policing, after their success so far, with the election specials a particular high point.

He says: “They were a lot of fun to do. I love where the fictional world of Miekelson intersects with the real world. I just find it really amusing that they treat him as he if genuinely is the chief police. They just go with whatever I throw at them. You get a side of them that you don’t otherwise see.

“They’re all very good, because they’re all very used to the rough and tumble of the parliament. The only time it doesn’t work is if they get too guarded.”

Docherty surprised his fans in the summer with a one-man Fringe show he described as semi-autobiographical and semi-serious.

He said: “It was probably the best critiqued thing I’ve ever done. It was something really different for me. I’d never done anything as ‘serious’ before.

“I felt a bit naked at times, but I like to challenge myself and keep trying to do something different. When audiences like it that much and the critics like it as well you’ve got to think it’s a decent show.

"I’m developing another TV show with a young author, Maddie Mortimer, about an estranged father and daughter coming together at a terrible moment in time. I’m in my fifties and she’s in her twenties, so it’s quite an interesting combination of writers.

“I think the leap is easier for comedy actors to go straight. There’s nothing worse than an actor with serious gravitas doing comedy and not quite flying. It’s a much harder leap. I think you’re either got funny bones or you haven’t.”

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