As Still Open All Hours returns for a new series at Christmas (premieres Boxing Day, BBC1), What’s On TV caught up with James Baxter, who plays Leroy, to find out what’s in store at Arkwright’s…
This series of Still Open All Hours kicks off with a Christmas special. Can you give us any hints about what happens?
“Granville (David Jason) is up to his old tricks, buying things that should never be bought, bless him. So there’s a bit of a kamikaze Christmas tree! He also throws a party and everyone gets into the Christmas spirit. Without giving too much away there’s a lot in store. It’s a fun Still Open All Hours-style Christmas!”
What makes the show such perfect festive viewing?
“Christmas is a family time where kids get to stay up later watching TV with their families and Still Open All Hours is a show that doesn’t really specify an age group. A five-year-old will get some fun out of the silliness of it all and then you’ve got the older generation who’ll remember the first series, so it’s a little piece of nostalgia for them. There’s a real warmth to the show, a sort of warm-hearted lunacy!”
What’s the bond between Granville and Leroy like this time around?
“It’s developed a little bit. Leroy seemed to the butt of the jokes and Granville often puts him in situations that he didn’t want to be in or that cramped his style. But now there’s an element of Leroy that enjoys the fact that he’s in this mad world with these ridiculous characters. Otherwise why would he stay around? There’s a big wide world out there, but it seems to be more eventful in this small corner shop in Doncaster!”
Has Granville changed the till yet?
“No. The till will never be changed. It’s a character in itself now. It has a mind of its own to the point where I’m worried it may have more screen time than me!”
We saw Leroy’s absent mother make an appearance at the end of the last series… does she return?
“I’m not allowed to give any of that away. But if she did turn up there would be an unusual dynamic between her, Granville and Leroy. A lot of questions would be asked and possibly a few answered!”
Are there any new characters or guest appearances?
“Yes, there are some really fun new additions. Geoffrey Whitehead (Not Going Out) joins the cast and ends up being followed around by the The Black Widow (Stephanie Cole), which is very funny.”
What’s it like working with David Jason?
“It’s a dream. He’s amazing. I’ve become very close to him over the course of the whole show and he’s really nice, helpful and generous. He’s everything I hoped he would be from growing up watching him on telly. But he’s also very cheeky. He’s a bit of a wind up, but in the sweetest way!”
Will you be watching the show on Boxing Day?
“Yes. I’ll spend Christmas at home up in Sunderland with the whole family so it’s nice that they’ll get to watch my face on TV! I don’t know how they feel about it actually, but it’s nice for me and I’m sure they’ll enjoy it.”
What’s your typical Christmas like then?
“Food, food, food and more food – that’s it really! My dad runs a butchering business so it’s ridiculous. I’ll probably gain about a stone and then spend January running for a month trying to get rid of it! Christmas is also very family orientated. We get up, have breakfast, open presents and then start cooking because we have about 15 people round and then more come after dinner!”
What are you asking Santa for?
“A Ferrari! Actually, I haven’t asked for anything, but I’d like a productive year next year because being an actor it’s kind of ups and downs. To be honest, I wouldn’t care if I didn’t get anything. Just being with my family is the nicest thing.”
Still Open All Hours returns on Boxing Day at 8pm on BBC1.