Scotland

Still Game comedy duo say Jack and Victor will not be back

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Media captionFord Kiernan and Greg Hemphill say they will be sad when the show ends, but they believe it is time to say goodbye

Still Game star Greg Hemphill says the new TV series will definitely be the last but there will be a final stage show run before the hit comedy retires.

"We are not going to come back," says Hemphill, who writes the show with his co-star Ford Kiernan.

The ninth series of Still Game will premiere on the new BBC Scotland channel launching on 24 February.

Hemphill says the last TV series and the stage show will be the "final nail in the final coffin".

Image copyright Alan Peebles
Image caption Greg Hemphill and Ford Kiernan play Victor and Jack in Still Game

According to Kiernan, the pair had finished writing the TV series when they were asked to repeat their previous successful shows at Glasgow's SSE Hydro arena.

They performed dozens of live shows to nightly crowds of more than 10,000 in both 2014 and 2017 and will perform another 10 nights in September and October this year.

"The Hydro is the last chance you will get to see us," Kiernan says.

'They are full of wisdom'

Kiernan, who is 57, and 49-year-old Hemphill first turned the adventures of Craiglang Septuagenarians Jack and Victor and their pensioner friends into a TV sitcom in 2002, when Hemphill was in his early 30s.

In an interview with BBC Scotland's Jackie Bird, Hemphill says: "We set out to write characters that we thought we'd like to be like when we were that age, up to mischief, up to no good, characters that your grandkids would love - mischief-makers."

Kiernan says they also wanted to highlight the fact that pensioners were still worth paying attention to.

He says: "They are still full of stories, they are full of wisdom and yet they fall off the radar at some point and it's just not fair."

Hemphill and Kiernan began working together in 1996 and had a massive success with sketch show Chewin' the Fat, where the characters of Jack and Victor made their first appearances.

Image caption Ford and Greg were in their 30s when they first played the 75-year-olds

Still Game ran for six series until 2007 before Hemphill and Kiernan decided they needed a break.

Kiernan says: "You have to remember we had done 10 years of that, all in, before then.

"It was all we were doing, morning, noon and night, like mice on a wheel."

Kiernan says they enjoyed doing the show but it was exhausting.

He says: "You would get to the end of a writing run, you would be filming it and then you would get a brief breathing space and then you'd be commissioned again.

"Obviously it was a strain on us."

Rumours of a rift between the pair hit the newspapers and it was reported they did not speak for years.

According to Kiernan, there was a "misconception" that the pair were at odds during their break.

He says they had children at the same school and were seeing each other every other week, passing and chatting.

It wasn't the grim story that the newspapers were writing, he says.

Hemphill says: "The break was good for us because it made us realise what a great thing we had in terms of our friendship, our relationship and also the show that we were making together.

"We just actually needed a breather from it and it made us want to refocus and want to do it again."

A comedy show to last

It was seven years before the pair got back together when the new arena was being built close to their Glasgow homes.

They announced four shows at the Hydro but due to high demand it was extended to 21, playing to more than 200,000 fans

On the back of the success of the stage shows, the BBC asked the pair if they would like to resurrect the TV series.

Still Game arrived back on TV in 2016 and was shown across the UK on the main BBC One channel.

After three series Hemphill and Kiernan are again ready to pension off their most-famous characters.

Image caption Ford and Greg were interviewed by BBC Scotland's Jackie Bird

Hemphill says the pair would like to do other things.

He says he always knew the Still Game return would be shorter than its original run.

"Comedy is one of these things where you need the element of surprise in there as well as the element of familiarity, so you are walking a fine line," he says.

"When you come back with a show like that you know you are not going to be doing it for six, seven or eight years."

Both Hemphill and Kiernan hope they have made a comedy show and characters that stand the test of time.

They also say they will be working together on other projects at some point.

According to Kiernan: "The one big thing that I will miss about Jack and Victor is getting to work with one of the best comedy character actors in Britain.

"I won't see that other face as Victor again and that is quite sad.

"But I will be working with him as Greg, but not as Victor."

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