Still Game 

Daily Record article Jul 7 2004



THEBBC is to show the first run of the next series of Scottish hit comedy Still Game on network TV.

The fourth series of the show, which features the antics of OAPs Jack and Victor, will be the first to be shown nationwide.

Viewers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be able to tune in to the misadventures of the Glasgow pair and their pals at the same time as their 1.5 million Scots viewers.

The news has delighted the show's stars and creators, Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill.

Ford said: 'It's about bloody time. It's been a long wait but we're really delighted that it's happened at last.

'We actually had an inkling that the BBC in London were considering letting Still Game go nationwide after BBC2 showed five episodes from series one and two earlier this year.

'The ratings for them were excellent, as was the feedback from viewers.

'So we've had high hopes that they would come round to our way of thinking and all we can say is, 'Well done Auntie Beeb.' ' Ford and Greg are hard at work on the scripts for the fourth series of the OAPs behaving badly in the fictional Glasgow scheme of Craiglang.

And Ford insists the cast won't be toning down their Scottish accents to pander to English ears.

He said: 'Changing the accents wasn't even up for discussion.

'They didn't ask for it and we would never have put up with it if they had asked.'

The show's executive producer, Ewan Angus, is one of the prime movers in persuading BBC chiefs in London to find a home for Still Game.

He said: 'The move is a credit to the writing and acting in the show.'

Daily Record article Nov 13 2004



Jack and Victor head off in a huff - but their wives patch things up

THE headlines would have written themselves. 'Jack and Victor in Punch-Up'. 'Still Game is Out the Game'.

'Comedy Pair are Spitting the Fat'. It happened a few weeks ago when Greg Hemphill stormed out on his partner Ford Kiernan after a script-writing bust-up.

But then two peacemakers stepped in and opened up diplomatic relations ... between one end of Glasgow's Great Western Road and the other.

'Aye,' smiles Greg. 'My wife Julie and Ford's wife Leslie were on the phone to each other, laughing at the pair of us.We were like kids taking the huff.'

Ford added: 'My granny always said you should never let the sun rise onan argument. After our wives got us talking, we were pals again before bedtime.'

It wasn't their first fall-out. But the good news for Still Game and Chewin' the Fat fans is that it certainly won't be their last.

'I think these wee things show how much we care about our work,' says Greg. Rather than parting, Scotland's favourite comedy duo have never been more committed to working together.

'We've almost finished writing the fourth Still Game series. And we're still game for writing a fifth and a sixth,' Greg added.

'And we're about to start filming the Hogmanay edition of Chewin' the Fat.We couldn't be busier or happier at the way things are going.' And they've also got a book coming out.

Titled Still Game, it's the pick of their previous series in original script form.

'Now, everybody can go to the pub and act out the scenes with their pals.Wait a minute ... is that a good thing or a bad thing?' laughs Ford.

Their success can be measured by the noise of car horns and the number of autograph hunters around their book launch photo-shoot in Glasgow's West End.

But the pair of jokers are single-minded about letting it go to their heads. Ford tells me how he recently stumbled on a couple of old invoices from their early days of stand-up.

'We appeared at The Comedy Club as separate acts within a week of each other. It must have been around 1989 and I think we got twenty quid.

'Those invoices are now stuck on the office wall - just to remind of us where we came from.'

THE 'office' is the Kiernan household in Glasgow's West End. And works starts at 10.00 am when Greg arrives.

'We have a computer each and sit side by side. Then we start firing lines from one screen to the other.The storylines build from there,' says Ford. 'I don't know how any comedy writer can work alone. How Ian Pattison produced the quality of the Rab C. Nesbitt scripts, by himself, is beyond me.

'But we bounce things around. Sometimes we say the lines in Jack and Victor's voices to get a 'feel' for how it's working. And if one of us is off form, the other guy will gee him up. It's a team effort.

'It takes us about two weeks to write one episode.We're usually slow to start, but once we get going, there's no stopping us.'

Greg reckons that changing from the demanding Still Game scripts to the quickfire Chewin' the Fat sketches makes the latter seem like a holiday.

He said: 'We have a team of writers for Chewin' the Fat which is a huge help. And writing the sketches come to us fairly easily, there's so much material to pick from. Plus we're now only doing one Hogmanay show.

'Recording it is great fun. It's a pleasant change not to go through Jack and Victor's two hours in make-up at 6am each morning'.

The other news from Ford's House of Fun is that BBC 2 will be networking the 2005 Still Game series.

'We're anxious to see how it is received. But it's exciting to think of our wee show going up against the big boys,' says Greg.

And finally, Ford has fallen for Greg's lifetime passion - playing poker. 'The b*****d has got me hooked,' he moans.

Stand by for those wives patching things up again when Greg starts drawing aces to Ford's kings.

# Still Game, by Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill (Black and White Publishing) £9.99.

Article by Cameron Borland 07/05/04


Choo! Choo! All aboard the Craiglang Express! Rockets, nuggets and bawbags step right up for another magical mystery tour penetrating deep into the heartland's (and the badlands) of the modern, everyday working-class pensioner. Prepare to have your ears bashed by Isa, your guts battered by Boaby's manky pints and your funnybone tickled to extremis by the entire cast of the BBC's finest sitcom of recent times. The return of Jack, Victor and the inhabitants of the mythical Glasgow housing of Craiglang means gloriously good times ahead for viewers in Scotland whilst the rest of the UK is denied the wondrous pleasures of Still Game. Hurdy, hurdy gurdy.

Now, I'm as nationalistic as the next man (as long as he's not Jean Marie Le Pen) but I do feel somewhat aggrieved that the genius of Still Game has been so shoddily treated by the BBC. If ever a show demanded a simultaneous transmission across the United Kingdom, then it's this corker of a sitcom. In fact, the treatment of Still Game amply demonstrates the condescending, patronising, metrocentric attitude of the BBC to perfection. Given a derisory five episode run on BBC2 earlier this year, Still Game was, at last, finally scheduled nationwide. Despite being played alongside the far more heavily trailed Grass (which predictably had the darlings of the media creaming themselves) the antics of Jack, Victor and their egregious cronies - to be perfectly blunt - kicked the arse out of Grass. Taking the audience up from 1.2 million to 1.4 million, it became BBC2's most-watched evening show. In simple terms, a humble Scottish offering wiped the floor with London's great hope. Why the BBC continues to commission and heavily publicise Grass and the savagely bad Lenny Henry Show is beyond me, and also contempt.

The third series of the first genuinely great Scottish sitcom since the days of Para Handy returned to our screens neatly commencing where the second finished. Arriving in Canada, the opening line neatly underscored the entire episode and set the tone wonderfully for the next 30 minutes. On seeing her father arrive, Jack's daughter stopped and muttered "My dad got old". Delivered with enough nuance to convey shock, you realised once again that here we have two men who are not going gently into that good night. Too often, Still Game is dismissed as the antics of two grumpy old men. The reality is that it's the tale of two men who, though sometimes grumpy, are happy in their ordered world and do so much more than merely live day to day, merely marking time until the Grim Reaper arrives. If anything, Jack and Victor are a wonderful representation of the modern day OAP, managing to portray the difficulties faced by the average pensioner in today's society.

The only grouch that I had with this episode was that it really should have been a 60-minute special. For those of us who have witnessed the stage version of Still Game (which occurred before Jack and Victor popped up on Kiernan and Hemphill's Chewin' the Fat sketch show and embedded themselves in a nation's consciousness) we have always longed to see the irascible duo visit Canada. The idea and the images were already there and there is certainly enough comedic gas in the tank to make an hour long special a workable possibility. Mind you, Kiernan and Hemphill have publicly stated that they'd love to take Jack and Victor to Las Vegas. That I'd love to see.

As ever, the joy of Still Game is both in the writing and the cast. The characters are all so well defined and the interaction between them is, more often than not, verging on the hysterical. This is always the case when Naveed's shop comes into play. Arguably the scene of the best lines, the humble grocery store is, in effect, the nerve centre of Craiglang where gossip is traded and insults hurled. Tonight, we had Isa, Naveed and Winston (three superb performances incidentally) combining to perfection with a little sketch in which a level of coarse swearing that Gordon Ramsay would have blushed at was brilliantly achieved. In any other show, a white pensioner calling an Asian shopkeeper a prick would be met with a barrage of righteous indignation but here it makes for genuinely funny viewing. As does said Asian shopkeeper calling his customer a mad shagger. And all this is before we get to the resurrection of the word pie as a naughty word. Genius.

The beauty of Still Game is in its inherent ability to merge comedy with both farce and tragedy. The scene in which Jack's daughter asked him to move to Canada to live with her was quite moving. Jack listened to her plea then rendered a little soliloquy in which he confessed that he couldn't do without his late wife, and that he wanted to go home was beautiful. There was an air of poignancy that moved the viewer. Then, just as the scene was resting in a sea of serene solemnity, Jack opined that he had to go home anyway as he had £8 left on his powercard. Once again, genius. Likewise Jack throwing up on his grandchildren whilst visiting the CN Tower. The line, "Calm doon - it'll wash aff", seems certain to be reverberating around the bars of Glasgow for quite some time.

Every scene, every subplot was suffused with greatness. This was a genuinely brilliant episode of a genuinely brilliant sitcom. From the unsaid sadness of the opening line to the after-credit coda scene (the regulars in The Clansman comparing crap presents in a sweep - which Isa won with a gloriously tacky and risqué Big Beaver T-shirt) this was just a delight to watch. Apparently, audience research carried out in England after the five episodes were screened on BBC2 earlier this year showed that 80% of the audience thought so too. We can't all be wrong

Navid Evening Times article


STILL Game actor Sanjeev Kohli helps dish out advice at the launch of a pilot financial scheme.

The 33-year-old, who plays newsagent Navid Harrid in the Glasgow-based sitcom, joined Councillor Gordon Matheson to introduce a new service from BCD Credit Union and Citizens Advice Scotland.

The service is based at the CAB on Kennedy Path in Townhead, Glasgow, and will offer residents a one-stop-shop for free financial and legal advice and support.

Townhead is the first place in the UK to benefit from the venture, which could be rolled out across Glasgow if it proves successful.

Mr Matheson said the service, which is next to the newsagent where Sanjeev films Still Game, is great news for his constituents.

He said: "Sound financial advice is a crucial element in promoting social inclusion.
"The Townhead area has never had these services on its doorstep, but this is about to change and I will be encouraging everyone to take up the chance of free and impartial assistance from professionals."

Sunday Mail feature 17 July 2005



Still Game's star Paul goes out on a limb at his pal Tam's wedding as Greg and Ford make him legless

STILL Game star Paul Riley is used to being the butt of Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill's jokes.

The actor - who puts on a flat cap and 30 years to play Craiglang grump Winston - is well used to being handed a script which calls on him to tell the world he is a 'greedy fat b ****** .'

But even he was taken aback when Ford and Greg told him they were making him legless in the much-anticipated fourth series of the hit BBC1 comedy show.

He said: 'They just came in the pub one night and said, 'How do you feel about losing a leg?' I said, 'What?' And they told me, 'We're going to cut off one of Winston's legs'.

'I could see the comic potential but I told them straight away I wasn't going down the hangman's route of losing all my bits and ending up just a head by the seventh series.

'And I didn't want to get into the situation where they just had me sitting at the bar because I can't walk.

'But they said they would keep it down to a limp and, in fact, I break into a sprint at one point in this series and I even end up dancing. They do enjoy putting me in ridiculous situations. It's fine but sometimes they will do things to get to me. Like when Winston calls himself fat. I've got a line when I say, 'I'm a greedy b ****** ' . They know it annoys the hell out of me to say that.

'What that means is they've been writing the script, it's got to 4pm and they are a bit bored - so let's get Winston to call himself a fat b ****** .'

Paul wed Yvonne Elliott, 28, in a surprise wedding in Las Vegas, in March.

And the new series - which begins on Friday - will see Winston get caught on the hop when he is best man at pal Tam's (Mark Cox) marriage to girlfriend Frances (Kate Donnelly).

And it's not such a happy day for Winston in the first episode, as we see him being fitted for a prosthetic leg, after having his own amputated due to smoking.

He starts off in an NHS hospital with a home-made peg leg, made of a pole and a block of wood, taking abuse from a ned.

Things don't get any better when he is fitted with a prosthetic leg built for a lady, complete with painted toenails - although he does manage to use it as a weapon.

Winston's new appendage hasn't been easy to get used to for Paul, 35.

He said: 'My limp is not method. I'm not Dustin Hoffman, so I didn't put a stone in my shoe or anything, although maybe I should have.

'There were a couple of times in the first week or so when I forgot to limp so we had to go back and do some scenes again.

'But after the first episode it really is just a limp, which was a relief. It takes about an hour to get ready already with wig and latex on the face and hands. That's bad enough. I'm glad I didn't have to spend too much time having my leg strapped up my backside.'

The new series boasts all the usual characters including Navid (Sanjeev Kholi) and Isa (Jane McCarry).

But there are also guest roles for Harry Potter star Robbie Coltrane, although again - thanks to Ford and Greg - Paul all but missed out on working with him.

He said: 'They took great pleasure in telling me, 'Robbie Coltrane is coming and you're not doing anything with him.' I was the other storyline.

'So they're all coming back saying, 'Oh, you should have seen the big man today, he was great'. Thanks very much! They're a pair of b ******* .'

Despite the tongue-in-cheek abuse, Paul is a huge fan of Ford and Greg. He said: 'They remind me of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. They have a chemistry which is there for everyone to see. It crackles on screen.

'They have a real talent. When you look at the bulk of material they've done there's no way you can say anybody else could have done it.'

The new series is finally going to be seen south of the Border. The decision is not before time for a series which has consistently gathered half the population of Scotland round the TV set.

The show has also proved a winner with the Hollywood elite.

Scots star Billy Boyd introduced the show to his Lord of the Rings co-stars Elijah Wood and Sean Aston to great acclaim, while former Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy became the show's No.1 fan, threatening to chain himself outside the BBC to get it shown in England.

Paul said: 'Everybody who sees it, from Sylvester McCoy to Elijah Wood, loves it.

'One of the things with going on the network on season four is you've just got to say, 'Look, you've missed the boat. We're away with this. Either buy the DVDs and catch up - or complain'.

'Why should Ford and Greg make any concessions?'

Paul is waiting for the nod to start filming the Still Game Christmas special. In the meantime, he's enjoying married life.

But there may be bad news ahead for his other half. While Ford and Greg based characters Jack and Victor on relatives, the only template for Winston is... himself.

Paul said: 'Unfortunately for my wife, I think it's just me when I'm an old man

July 2004 article


The BBC is coming under pressure to air Scottish sitcom Still Game across the whole country.

Creators Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill have gone as far as branding executives ‘anti-Scottish arseholes’ for refusing to air the comedy south of the border.

The programme, featuring irascible pensioners Jack and Victor from sketch show Chewin The Fat in their own spin-off series, is a huge success in Scotland, attracting audiences of up to 1.5million.

But Kiernan and Hemphill say the corporation fears the characters’ strong Glaswegian accents would be a turn-off in England and Wales.

Now former Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy has joined fans pushing for the show to be screened nationwide. He appears in an episode to be aired in Scotland tonight, but won’t be able to see it as he lives in London.

He told the Daily Record: “I find it completely incomprehensible why this series has not been shown down here. It is very well written and visually very funny.

“There's no excuse. 'he BBC are desperately looking for good stuff and there is not one ounce of doubt that this is brilliant comedy. Still Game should be on BBC2 primetime, if not BBC1.

“I will chain myself to the BBC gates. I think there should be a campaign to ask why the BBC is not spending our television tax on wonderful programmes like this.”

Keirnan said: “We’ve been told in no uncertain terms about our accents. We’ve been absolutely blown away that there’s a belief that they won’t understand the accent, which is utter nonsense."

But BBC bosses in London say the criticism is a matter for BBC Scotland.

There, commissioning editor Ewan Angus agrees with calls for the show to be networked.

He said recently: "I think the appeal is the jokes and the situations, which have universal appeal. There are not a lot of specific references that an audience outside of Scotland wouldn’t get."

Ed Byrne article


Here's a wee article on Still Game from Ed Byrne @ Edinburgh Fringe 2004

What's the best thing you've ever seen on the fringe?

In 1997 I went to see a play called Still Game. I raved about it to everybody who would listen and ended up going to see it 3 times. It, as you know, went on to become the basis for one of the best sitcoms ever. The one thing that the play still has over the sitcom, though, is that the language is a lot more, shall we say, authentic. (You can't say the f-word or the c-word in sitcom).

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