Still Game’s creators are set to stun fans by bring the Scottish comedy to an end after 21 years.
Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill have revealed the show will be bowing out for good this year after a ninth and final series.
They made the surprise announcement ahead of filming getting under way on a new batch of episodes the pair say will “finish Jack, Victor and the gang’s journey”.
The impending end of Still Game has been announced four years after Kiernan and Hemphill reunited its cast for a live show at the Hydro arena.
An official announcement from BBC Scotland said the two writers and actors “feel the time is right to retire Still Game from TV”.
Hemphill said: “Still Game is a story 21 years in the making. We’ve had an amazing run but one of our hopes when we brought the show back was that we would get the opportunity to finish Jack, Victor and the gang’s journey. We feel that time is upon us. We hope you will join us later in the year to see how the story ends.”
When the last episode airs we hope your memories of our little gang will be fond onesFORD KIERNAN
Kiernan said: “I can’t believe 21 years have passed in what, for us, has been an outstanding experience of collaboration, storytelling and performing.
“But above all being fortunate to entertain people and make them smile. So when the last episode airs we hope your memories of our little gang will be fond ones.”
Still Game started life as an Edinburgh Festival Fringe show in 1997 after Kiernan and Hemphill were offered a slot by Gilded Balloon founder Karen Koren. It was turned into a TV series in 2002 after the characters Jack, Victor, Tam and Winston made regular appearances in Chewin’ the Fat, the sketch show Kiernan and Hemphill created for BBC Scotland.
It ran for six hugely successful series for the next five years and secured UK-wide network slots, but then went on a lengthy hiatus after a much-publicised rift between Kiernan and Hemphill. They patched up their differences to create a new live show for the Hydro, which went on to sell out 21 performances and rake in £6 million at the box office.
The revival inspired BBC Scotland to commission two more series, the most recent of which aired earlier this year, while the cast returned to the Hydro with a new live show in 2017. The revival of Still Game became the most watched non-sporting programme in Scotland in the space of a decade, with some episodes attracting more than half the available audience.
Among the stars to have had cameo roles over the years have been Lorraine Kelly, Craig Ferguson, Jackie Bird, Una McLean, Sylvester McCoy, Kate Dickie, Tom Urie, David Hayman and Billy Boyd.
Kiernan and Hemphill’s regular co-stars Jane McCarry, Sanjeev Kohli, Gavin Mitchell, Paul Riley and Mark Cox will all be returning for the final series, which is due to be broadcast later this year.
Steve Carson, head of multi- platform commissioning at BBC Scotland, said: “Still Game is a once-in-a-generation comedy that attracts audiences of all ages.
“Jack, Victor and the gang at the Clansman have made millions laugh by growing old disgracefully and we’re going to miss them when this fantastic new series concludes.”
FROM THE FRINGE TO THE HYDRO – HOW THEY BECAME A COMEDY PHENOMENON
1997: Still Game starts life as a stage play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill joined on stage by Gavin Mitchell, who played the character of Winston. The production goes on to tour around Scotland and England, as well as in Ireland and Canada.
1999: The characters of Jack and Victor are revived for iernan and Hemphill’s new TV series Chewin’ the Fat, which runs for four series and also features future Still Game stars Paul Riley and Mark Cox, aswell as Karen Dunbar and Tom Urie.
2002: Still Game gets its own BBC Scotland show, which runs for six series and is shown throughout the UK. But it vanishes off air after the 2007 Hogmanay special amid reports of a behind-the-scenes rift.
2013: The cast of Craiglang stage a press conference to announce they will be appearing at the Hydro in Glasgow the following year with a major new live show. It goes on to sell out 21 shows, which are seen by more than 210,000 fans and generates more than £6 million in ticket sales.
2014: The BBC stages a Hogmanay tribute show to Still Game to celebrate their stage reunion amid mounting speculation about a new series.
2016: The BBC announces filming has begun on a brand new series of Still Game after a nine-year hiatus. It becomes Scotland’s most watched non-sporting programme in over a decade with weekly episodes regularly attracting over half of the total available audience.
2017: Still Game’s fans pack out the Hydro for a second time, with the Craiglang gang setting sail on a vast cruise liner set purpose built for the arena. Within months of the live show being staged, filming gets under way on a new six-part series.
2018: Series eight sees Scottish comedy favourite Craig Ferguson return from Hollywood to Scotland to film an episode, while Bruce Morton has a recurring new role as the local undertaker. The character of Eric is killed off. Kiernan and Hemphill reveal that a ninth series is planned, but that will be the final swansong for Jack, Victor and the Clansman gang.