Jackie McNamara’s dressing room tales adapted for TV sitcom

Jackie McNamara and his brother Donnie
Jackie McNamara and his brother Donnie
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It’s a funny old game – so surely it’s the perfect material to be turned into a hit sitcom.

Former Celtic and Scotland star Jackie McNamara certainly hopes so as he embarks on a new career as a comedy writer.

The 37-year-old, who is now boss of Partick Thistle and lives in the Capital, has developed the Therapy Room comedy alongside Penicuik-based actor Francis Gilhooley.

The pair had a chance encounter at the Costco outlet in Straiton last year, and the idea grew from there.

Some episodes have already been filmed, featuring actors such as Billy Elliot star Gary Lewis, and it is hoped a major broadcaster will soon agree to take on the show.

Mr Gilhooley said: “I was leaving Costco and Jackie was coming in, and I knew him from a few years back.

“He has all these stories from the dressing room and didn’t necessarily want to put them in a book, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

“Although it’s featuring guys up here, it’s very much aimed at a UK audience, it’s not going to be another Still Game or anything like that.”

The storyline sees an English Premiership club have a “therapy room” installed, where players can go to share their feelings with the camera, and get certain issues off their chests. However, their confessions will differ from the actual truth of events they are talking about, with the viewer given the real story.

Mr Gilhooley added: “With Jackie on board and others it means we’ve got that realism to it – these are things they’ve picked up over the years that have actually happened in dressing rooms.

“I don’t want to divulge too much just now, but we’re optimistic about it getting picked up.”

The programme will combine professional actors and actual footballers.

Hearts defender Ryan McGowan, who had a brief loan spell at McNamara’s Partick Thistle last season, will be among those featured in clips.

McNamara gave up playing last season and went almost straight into management at the Glasgow club, and is now regarded as one of the brightest managerial prospects in Scotland.

He said: “Some of it is based on what I’ve seen and heard, some is fiction, and some stories have grown arms and legs. I won’t say which ones are true.

“Dressing rooms tend to be made up of around 20-odd guys aged between 16 and 35, all going through different things in their lives. When you stop playing that’s the environment you miss most, even though I went back into management fairly soon after.

“The project’s going really well – it’s important to have distractions from day-to-day involvement and this is what that has been. I’m in a couple of the scenes but mainly behind the camera.”