The British Sitcom Guide


"Still Game" Interview

Michael Hines , the producer and director of "Still Game" has just finished filming the fifth series (which is due to hit our screens shortly). He kindly took time out of his schedule to answer some of our questions...

Still Game cast Could you tell us a little about the history of 'Still Game' and how you became involved in the comedy...

The characters of Jack, Victor and Winston were created for a play entitled 'Still Game' which had a successful tour. Jack and Victor then became one of many sets of characters in Chewin' The Fat where they had little sketches or sang rude songs with 2 other old fellas.

When Chewin' the Fat was coming to an end, potential sitcoms were looked for amongst the characters, and Jack and Victor were the most obvious choice. A pilot was made, and when the series was commissioned, I was brought in to re-shoot small elements of it (mainly the pub) and then continued the make the rest of series one.

We at the BSG have labeled 'Still Game' as one of the best sitcoms of the decade. What do you think lies behind it's success?

You're too kind... I think there is a certain amount of truth in Still Game, we all know old people who swear, who live that way and who are still people at the end of the day. It's not that surreal, and doesn't mock old people, rather show they are just the same as they were when they were younger. There is also pathos in the sitcom, which gives rhythm to the comedy and makes it touching. Also old people being rude is funny.

Series Four was a huge hit nationwide. What's in store for Series Five? Any new characters planned?

Not going to tell!

We don't blame you for not giving away any secrets, still, worth a try! The press reported a while back that Peter Kay was looking for a cameo appearance in the series. Did that happen?

Sadly not, he wanted to be in the show but we couldn't quite work out the schedules to fit him in.

Following this new series, do you think the team will make any more 'Still Game' episodes?

Ford and Greg as Jack and Victor Ford [Kiernan] and Greg [Hemphill] (the writers and actors) want to carry on playing Jack and Victor till they're old enough not to need make up. Seriously, we have no idea how long we'll carry on.

Excellent news - glad to see you're all still game for more (he, he, we're so witty). Actually, talking of make up, when watching the series it is easy to forget the main leads aren't even close to 50 yet, let alone 65+! How long does the make up process take?

Just over an hour for Jack, Victor, Isa, Navid, Winston, Tam and Boabby.

Can you describe what the atmosphere on set is like?

I like a good humoured set, one where the crew feel they are adding a creative input and still enjoying themselves. When we're under time pressure, I'll get more grumpy but Still Game is a right laugh to work on. Obviously we all concentrate and don't piss about, but yeah it's fun.

What is it like working with Greg and Ford?

A right laugh. Its hard work, as any sitcom is, but when you work on a show that is both funny and liked, your life is made a lot easier. The three of us work closely together to make sure the exact right feel to the show is created and the abuse thrown around is evenly distributed amongst all the cast...

Cool, where is Still Game filmed?

All over Glasgow. Some of the interiors are made up sets, but most are real locations.

And how long does it take to film a series of 'Still Game'? It looks like a lot of work!

Still Game has 4 weeks pre-production, 6 weeks filming and 4 weeks editing and sound dubbing. For filming, we allow a week an episode but as Still Game is not a studio based show, we use the 6 weeks to do all 6 episodes so we could be filming any one of 6 scripts in a day or a mixture of all of them!

Navid and Isa Changing the subject slightly, we're curious about Navid's wife. Why do we never see her face?

It's a running gag that that's something you don't ever see. Most good shows will have bear a second viewing to pick up on stuff missed the first time and I know Ford and Greg write multi-layered so fans of the show won't get bored watching.

The BBC came under fire for not giving the show the respect it deserved in its early days, in fact they still haven't broadcast a lot of the episodes from the first three series in England despite the good viewing figures. The should be shot shouldn't they?

Shot or shown? I guess you mean shown. I think it would be nice to have the other episodes shown as they are some belters in there and at the end of the day, they are made and are sitting on the shelf waiting to be shown.

Actually we did mean "shot"! All we can say is we hope they come to their senses soon. At least the earlier series are out on DVD and they're broadcasting the new series to everyone.

One final question if you don't mind, we'd be interested to know what your favourite 'Still Game' episode is?

Cairds. It took forever to do the casino scene and was one of the most trickiest things I've ever had to film. The reward was in the laughs. Also Wireless for its mood and sadness coupled with the laughs.

Well, thanks very much for talking to us Michael, we're very much looking forward to series five and future series too!


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