Scottish sitcom Still Game returned in October after a break of almost a decade – winning a bumper 58% share of the Scottish TV audience in its Friday-night slot.
Michael Hines has directed every episode of the Scottish comedy – which follows the antics of two pensioners played by the show’s creators and writers Greg Hemphill and Ford Kiernan – since it first aired on BBC One Scotland in 2002, including Still Game: Live, which was performed in front of 210,000 fans over a 21-night sold-out run in 2014 at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.
At an RTS Scotland event at the Hub in Glasgow in late November, Hines – who was interviewed by University of the West of Scotland lecturer and RTS committee member Paul Tucker – offered an insider’s view of the hit show.
Fans had the opportunity to direct questions to Hines - and the chance to be crowned RTS Scotland’s Still Game expert and win tickets to the live show, which returns to the Hydro next February.
Hines explained that the popularity of the live show at the Hydro reminded him of how warmly people felt towards the show.
“We always knew people would want a new series, but fans were worried that it wasn’t going to be Still Game,” he said.
Seeking confirmation, the director asked the audience what they thought of the new series of the show, which aired throughout the UK and finished its run on BBC One in early November.
One audience member thought that the main difference was the look of the new series. Hines explained that while cameras have changed over the past few years, it’s still the same show.
He also referenced an interview where Jeremy Irons said that as an actor he must trust but also push himself.
Hines said: “I was in an interesting position where I had to trust myself because I’ve done Still Game before, but I wanted to push myself to make it relevant for today.”
The director poured cold water on the possibility of a Still Game film: “I would love to do a movie but I don’t think the format would work.”
Returning to the subject of the live show in a question and answer session with the audience, Hines said that few of the actors encountered problems moving from television to theatre, explaining that a lot of the cast had started out in panto.
He added: “We were all overwhelmed by the enormity of what we were doing. You have to take it moment by moment.”
At the end of RTS event, Hines showed a three-minute reel of outtakes from the latest series of Still Game that is usually reserved for the cast and crew.
All photos by Paul Reich Photography