After a successful one-off special last year, a new six-part series of Still Open All Hours begins this Christmas, with David Jason reprising the role he played opposite Ronnie Barker in the original classic comedy…
Having inherited the Doncaster grocer’s shop from his uncle Arkwright, Granville has become just as miserly as the late shopkeeper. But that hasn’t put off the store’s regular customers, including Mrs Delphine Featherstone, played by former Coronation Street star Stephanie Cole.
Known as ‘The Black Widow’, Mrs Featherstone used to pursue Arkwright, but now she’s set her sights on his nephew…
You played Mrs Featherstone in the original series – what enticed you to play her again?
“Because we had such a wonderful time making several series in the 1980s, and I just thought it was a brilliant idea to revisit it with Granville grown up. Also, with the lovely Linda Baron (Nurse Glady Emmanuel) and Maggie Ollerenshaw (Mavis) in it again I thought it sounded fun. When I saw the scripts and I thought ‘This is all right!’ It’s been absolutely terrific fun with great people. We’ve had a very good time.”
What do you do to get into the role of Mrs Featherstone?
“Well the clothes are all black including her hat, which is very like her original black hat. Black shoes, black stockings, black blouse, black skirt, black gloves, black coat and black handbag – she is the complete black widow! I don’t have to do anything. I put them on and there she is!”
Can you tell us what to expect in the series?
“Well, each episode is a self-contained story, but then there are the ongoing things. Delphine is after Granville now rather than Arkwright, and he’s got his son, Leroy, working for him so there’s a lot of comedy to be had out of that. And Granville’s relationship with Mavis is ongoing, too.”
Is it hard to keep a straight face while you’re filming?
“Yes, extremely hard! In fact there have been moments when we haven’t been able to keep a straight face at all.”
Do you have any plans to return to Coronation Street?
“I don’t have any plans to go back for the simple reason that I don’t actually like doing anything for very long. For instance, I did Doc Martin and Waiting For God for four years. I like to do different things. But I had a lovely time doing Corrie. I loved it. What could be better than having the beloved Robert Vaughan as my love interest, and working with the wonderful David Neilsen, and indeed everyone. It’s a wonderfully friendly atmosphere there. They’re all smashing and I made a lot of good friends there.”
What do you watch on TV? Do you watch TV?
“I do. It’s part of my job. I find it odd that some actors don’t. I like to know what’s going on so I’ll always give new things a go. I like to see my fellow actors because more and more frequently these days I see scripts that aren’t as good as they might be being saved by some wonderful acting. So I do watch it and there’s quite a lot I enjoy and quite a lot I think is a load of old poo!”
Still Open All Hours begins on Boxing Day at 6.25pm on BBC1