Nothing But TV Interview: John Thompson on the return of itv's Cold Feet.
Award winning comedy drama COLD FEET returns for an eighth series; Adam (James Nesbitt) is back on the singles market, but for once in his life he’s not finding any takers – has he finally lost his mojo?
Pete (John Thomson) on the other hand appears to have found his and, having recently renewed their wedding vows, some alfresco action is the icing on Pete and Jen's cake. However, mature student Jenny's (Fay Ripley) happiness is short lived when some unexpected news sends her into a tailspin.
Fiercely independent Karen is more interested in work than relationships, especially when a mystery author’s manuscript lands on her desk.
Meanwhile, David (Robert Bathurst) and Nikki (Siobhan Finneran) are enjoying a more frugal life when Nikki’s divorce settlement comes through tipping the balance. How far will David go to protect his pride?
Packed full of highs and heart-breaking lows, COLD FEET follows a tight-knit group of friends as they navigate their way through mid-life, facing whatever life throws at them, together.
John Thompson tells us more…
Q: What was your reaction when you read the scripts for this new series?
“I knew just how good this series was at the script readthrough before filming. There were tears and applause. It had a really good feel about it. Hermione Norris (Karen) said, ‘The magic is back. It’s Cold Feet as we always had it in our hearts.’ So I’m very excited about that. “We have learned a lot since Cold Feet returned and it has paid dividends. The scripts are strong and it’s genuinely a nod to the old. There are parts of this series where you think, ‘Well you didn’t see that one coming, did you?’
Q: Where do we find Pete and Jenny (Fay Ripley) when we meet them again?
“It’s that time of life where everyone thinks, ‘Well should I carry on or not?’ It’s that fork in the road. But they have settled their differences. “They did split up once and they did have affairs. It did go wrong. But that’s in the past and resolved. They are now moving forward. Then in this series the Giffords face a family crisis. It’s written brilliantly with good humour. Without being irreverent. “The public identify with Pete and Jenny because they are very representative of a normal couple and family. We represent the norm. The middle ground. The fact that we do fall out and make up again. You can see they have a great affection for one another despite everything. “It’s great they also play on Pete’s vulnerability. He is so keen to help. Sometimes to his detriment. He is so keen and it’s often ignored. You feel for him.”
Q: Pete is involved in an emotional scene with his step-daughter Chloe (Madeleine Edmondson). Was much acting required?
“I’m adopted so that really struck a chord with me. That really got me in a place emotionally where it was very real. Scenes like that just come out of the blue. Sometimes Cold Feet is bittersweet. But sometimes its bitter-bitter. Life is like that. Sometimes it will deal you spades. “It hard to believe Chloe is now 15 and how the kids on Cold Feet have grown up. It is terrifying. My daughter is 16. Which is a massive shock to me. A young woman now. Myself and Fay have got children who are around the same age as our children in the show. Which obviously helps. But they grow up so quickly now. And there’s less innocence today with kids because of media and all the resources they have at their fingertips.”
Q: Pete ends up in a canal in the first episode. How was that to film?
“It was really me in the canal. It’s not a double. There’s a lot of rubbish in those canals. I said, ‘I could feel Victorian skulls cracking underneath my feet.’ The bottom drops away like quicksand in parts. And there’s other bits where you can stand on a plateau. “Before we filmed they obviously did safety checks on where we were going to shoot and a run through. So I just watched what the stuntman did and copied that. Then after I filmed it he said, ‘Well you didn’t really need me.’ And I said, ‘I was just trying to make it look authentic.’ I wanted to give it a strong sense of realism. “I wore a wet suit underneath the costume but it was still so cold. We also had to be covered because of health and safety. You can get Lyme disease because of the rats. So one of the things you have to do is drink copious amounts of full fat cola after you’ve been in because that kills Lyme disease. Although I don’t think they’ll market it that way. “There was also anti-bacterial gel by the bucket load. All over faces, ears and up noses every time we came in and out of the canal. Just to be on the safe side. That water is not pleasant.”
Q: Where did you film the music festival scenes?
“We shot the music festival scenes in Delamere Forest in Cheshire. There was a heatwave when we filmed the first scenes and then we had torrential rain. It was freezing. But I loved filming those scenes. “It was an incredible bit of work from the art department on basically a blank canvas. When I got there I went, ‘My God, this is amazing what they have done.’ All of the tents, the yurts the tepees. It was so good. Despite the fact I’m in the industry it never ceases to amaze me sometimes when you walk on set or on location. You go, ‘That’s amazing.’ “I’ve done stand up three times at Glastonbury. I also did Reading. Back in the day when I was a youth and a free spirit. I was very professional until my job was done and then I was away to the Green Fields. Glastonbury is an amazing thing. The sheer size and volume of it. It’s an eye-opener. “I had a great time back then but I wouldn’t go near one now. Absolutely no way.”
Q: David talks about not losing sight of what is important. Is it easy to do that today?
“There are so many distractions today. That’s why mindfulness and meditation has become a bit of a movement now. Just for people to go, ‘Stop, put your phone down and just have a minute.’ It’s the pace of life today as well. Everything is quick. Cars are faster. Broadband is quicker. The attention spans of kids - flick this, flick that. Nobody sits still.”
Q: Your character likes to be in charge at a barbecue. Is it the same for you?
“I always have control at a barbecue. No-one ever tries to usurp me. They know it’s in good hands. As a non-drinker I’m quite happy to have that purpose as chief griller. So at a barbecue it’s a joy to be in control of the meat. Where back in the day I would have quite happily been barman. I love cooking and food anyway.”