When Cold Feet returned in 2016, the core cast was trepidatious. It had been 13 years since we last saw Adam (James Nesbitt), Pete (John Thomson), Jenny (Fay Ripley), David (Robert Bathurst) and Karen (Hermionie Norris) and they were concerned an audience could have forgotten about them. The actors had all gone their separate ways, each one having busy careers, but Cold Feet still loomed large in the public consciousness. James Nesbitt remembers, “When it came back, I resisted it for a long time, but when my agent sent me scripts I realised that it still had relevance. We were growing up, our children were growing up but I knew people would still relate to those characters and what was happening to them.”
Four years on, and the show is about to enter its ninth series. Last year saw Jenny (Fay Ripley) learn she had breast cancer, David (Robert Bathurst) find himself homeless and Adam (James Nesbitt) find love with lifelong friend Karen (Hermione Norris). The pairing seemed a left-field decision but feels oddly right in this new incarnation of the series. James Nesbitt remembers his reaction upon reading that the two friends were going to become a couple. “We were both very nervous about that. We were nervous that viewers would take against it. There was Karen’s relationship with Rachel to consider, but the response was pretty favourable and I’m enjoying it.” Hermionie Norris added, “We were worried to be destructive for the series, but it’s opened up so and opened up many more dynamics.”
The success of this tricky relationship can be put down to a number of factors: Nesbitt and Norris are brilliant actors, they have irresistible chemistry, but also, as with everything to do with Cold Feet, creator and writer Mike Bullen makes sure the relationship feels organic and of the world.
Bullen has a difficult job balancing the stories of his core cast, making sure everyone has something to do and that each story has enough time devoted to it. Whether be Jenny’s cancer or David’s homelessness, Cold Feet manages to tackle relatable stories without making the viewer feel as if they’re being lectured about whatever the issue is the focus. Robert Bathurst doesn’t believe homelessness has changed David, but that it has ‘made him see life through a different prism. It’s a story that really seemed to engage and I thought it was brilliantly written.”
In an era where TV dramas often feel mammoth and not of this world, Bullen’s series remains true to the characters and their world. This is a human drama about relationships, growing older and what it means to be a friend. It’s the show that coined the phrase, “dramedy” It’s not a drama, it’s not a comedy it’s somewhere in between and it does what it does better than any other show on television. James Nesbitt says “It never feels like work. Doing Cold Feet is always fun. I thought last year was really good and I’ve had great fun with Hermione this time. We’ve not worked together a lot over the years so it’s been great to work more closely with her and we’ve had a real laugh!”
For those who need a refresher course: Adam’s son Matt (Ceallach Spellman) is dating Karen’s daughter Olivia (Daisy Edgar-Jones) while David is still very much a key figure Karen’s life as her ex-husband and father of the girls and the impact, the new relationship will have on Jenny and Pete who are caught in the middle of it all.
The first episode of series nine, which starts on Monday 13th January on ITV, sees Adam at risk of losing his job when his attempts at humour aren’t well received. He’s still dating Karen though the pair are taking things slowly and the rest of the group are still struggling to get their heads around the blossoming romance. David is slowly getting back on his feet, working at a local cafe and popping over to Pete and Jenny’s for a homecooked curry, but is struggling to accept the new dynamic. Longtime fans of the show will know that Adam and David have long but heads over one thing or another but Adam’s relationship with Karen may bring things to head.
Whilst every character has had their fair share of difficulties since the show returned, it’s fair to say Pete (John Thomson) and Jenny (Fay Ripley) have had the toughest job in this new era with Thomson adding, “I’d love a lottery win!” When the show returned Pete was struggling with depression and last year Jenny’s breast cancer storyline saw Fay Ripley give arguably her best performance of the entire run. Although she was honoured to be given such a big story, she admits it was hard not to take the story home with her. “You can’t walk away from the responsibility of telling a story like that. I worry about it all the time. I’m enjoying telling the story and portraying that journey and it’s very gratifying when people come up to you and tell you you’re getting right, but I never forget that this is happening to people every day.
The new episode sees Jenny coming to terms with ‘beating’ her cancer, but also living with its consequences. When Pete arranges for the friends to get together to celebrate the end of her treatment, Jenny tries to put on a brave face, when all she really wants is to take off her wig and have a quiet family night. The series has never shied away from the realities of life and Ripley says that she felt a personal responsibility to get the story right. “I do always say we’re just telling one story. This is one family’s reaction to the disease. We take a lot of time on getting the finer details right. If I get I wrong I have to take responsibility for it. In this series, she’s finished her journey is far from over. She’s back to doing all of the normal things like the school run and cooking for the family but it’s still very much a part of her.”
John Thomson’s Pete, who in the early days of the show was often the comic foil or the loveable loser is now a happy family man who is still dealing with his own demons whilst being the protective figure at home for Jenny and the kids.
“Pete’s got a lot to balance. He can’t bear the suffering that Jenny is going through. He also is someone who wants everyone to be happy so he’s finding it hard that Adam and David are fighting. He accepts the relationship between Adam and Karen, but he doesn’t accept the animosity between them.” Thompson admits he’d like things to improve for the Giffords. “I did actually ask, does it get any better?
Presuming ITV greenlight a series next year the reboot will equal the original run. Five series each, but how long do the cast want the series to run for? Robert Bathurst says, “It’s a show about life and life is open-ended.” Fay Ripley says, “We’ll all do it if the scripts are good. The thing that Cold Feet has proved is that lives never stop being interesting. John Thomson agrees, adding, “As a cast, we genuinely care about the quality of the show so we’d do a tenth we’d do it if it’s good and if people still want it.”
Having seen the first episode, I can assure fans, and perhaps even the cast, that the show is far from slowing down. The balance of light and shade