As an excited TV Times stands in an unassuming street in Manchester, we’ve got a ringside seat for the biggest comeback in recent TV history.
Yes, after 13 years away from our screens, and 13 years of speculation about whether we’d ever see charmer Adam, uptight David, no-nonsense Karen and bickering Pete and Jenny again, Cold Feet is making a glorious return to ITV.
We’re outside the home of Pete and Jenny, played by John Thomson and Fay Ripley. As James Nesbitt and Robert Bathurst, who play Adam and David, knock on their door dressed in nifty cycling gear and John emerges in a rather lurid number, the gang fall about laughing.
Seeing them together, it’s like they have never been away, but it’s nearly 20 years since we took the close-knit group of Manchester-based pals to our hearts in the 1997 pilot episode of the iconic comedy drama.
That episode spawned five series and won the prestigious Golden Rose of Montreux TV award, possibly thanks partly to James’s infamous rose between the buttocks scene!
Although a twinkly-eyed James assures us that he won’t be revisiting that particular scenario in the new eight-part series, written again by creator Mike Bullen, the cast is delighted by the buzz surrounding the show’s return.
Was this something demanded by the public?
John: ‘There’s still a public demand for it, not a week has gone by in the last 13 years when some stranger hasn’t said to me, “When’s it coming back?”’ The world is not in a great place so there’s a need for nostalgia.’
Fay: ‘People are so excited; it’s crazy. We didn’t think it would actually happen so I didn’t need convincing other than to be reassured that it wasn’t a practical joke!’ Then I said, “Brilliant, better brush up on my northern accent!”’
Hermione, you weren’t happy about revisiting?
‘My first response was: “That’s a terrible idea”, I needed persuading because I thought it was best left, so that we didn’t undo what we’d done before. But then I realised that Cold Feet was always about identifying with the characters’ flaws and it could be interesting to see the issues that later life brings up. Then I thought, “Bring it on.”’
‘But it has been like seeing your life flash before you. I haven’t re-watched any episodes though because it would be excruciating, like getting your family album out!’
What is everyone like now?
Robert: ‘They are older but not wiser. One of the keys to the show has always been that they are rubbish at life and even though they have more experience now, they still don’t get it right. We’re no longer young thrusters, we’re all dented by that experience and some of us have learned from it better than others.’
Were any of you worried about the new series?
James: ‘We all had fears, because Cold Feet had an impact and it was the most important job all of us ever had, so we’re taking a risk. But we’re trying not to forget the DNA that made Cold Feet popular, because it had its own voice. Although it was heightened, it felt real and that they were like you so when you see these old friends again now, it’s easy to accept them. Having the other characters too means it feels like a familiar show, but that you’re adding something new to the tapestry.’
How did you feel not having Helen Baxendale there this time?
James: ‘I was sad. I loved working with Helen. We were very close, she’s daft, brilliant and such a hard worker. I shot a little scene the other day where I’m outside Adam and Rachel’s old house and I found it really moving.’
Did you find it hard coming back to these characters?
Fay: ‘It’s a bit “lump in your throat” and like a school reunion but everyone slots back into the same sense of humour. I’m still telling the same jokes, so that’s easy!’
John: ‘I was 28 when we first started, so it was a rite of passage, but one of the beauties of the series is that we forged friendships off camera and it shows. There was an epiphany moment when Jimmy, Robert and I were in the pub filming the other day and we laughed and said, “It’s just like old times.”’
Cold Feet returns to ITV on Monday, September 5