There’s a sharp knock on my front door and I open it to find John Thomson standing on my doorstep. It’s a sub-zero temperature Friday morning and he’s bundled up like a Sherpa.
Clearly this is no ‘out of the blue’ visit. He’s ‘knocked on’ so we can grab a coffee and a chat about his upcoming An Evening With… at Salford Lads’ Club where he and Coronation Street’s Chris Gascoyne (Peter Barlow) will be chatting about all sorts of stuff, with the promise of juicy anecdotes and spicy revelations.
Anyway, having slid down the icy pavements we’re settled upstairs in West Didsbury’s Volta with copious cups of hot black coffee (thanks go to Luke for opening early) and Thomson explains why he’s looking forward to the An Evening With… event.
“Me and Chris have known each other for years. We were both on BBC’s New Street Law back in 2006 and have got a few mutual friends. We really clicked when we first met and have been on holidays together – Boston, New York, my 40th in Vegas. So, yeah, I’m really looking forward to the event. There should be some great stories told. Chris is a great guy, originally from Nottingham where, I believe, he was a bit handy. You don’t mess with Chris.”
Beginning his career on Spitting Image, Thomson carried on working with his good mate, Steve Coogan, on the Paul and Pauline Calf Diaries and some of Britain’s most popular TV shows including The Fast Show and Cold Feet.
Ah, yes, Cold Feet. It would seem preposterous, seeing as we’re on Burton Road, not to talk about this hugely popular and much loved comedy-drama which is filmed in and around West Didsbury. It’s now in its eighth series which, by all accounts, is the best of the lot.
We are currently seeing Pete’s (Thomson) wife, Jenny (Fay Ripley) battling with her cancer diagnosis and sharing it with her family and friends. But, in true Cold Feet fashion, this is not a typically written cancer story where everyone immediately bands together and cries and weeps.
“No, it’s definitely not that,” agrees Thomson. “It’s done in a brilliant way, a light way. There’s no crying, ‘cos everybody does crying. We broach it differently. But that’s the beauty of Cold Feet, it’s bittersweet.”
Bittersweet is perhaps the most apposite description for the programme. Unlike Friends, which it has been likened to over the years, Pete, Jenny, Adam, Karen and David have matured in both looks and lives. They’ve split up, re-married, divorced, had kids who have grown into teenagers, dated and been widowed.
“Cold Feet is nothing like Friends,” says Thomson. “I suppose the only thing you could say is it’s three men and three women. They’re all living fragmented lives – real lives where people split up, get ill or die.”
But of course, the six original characters became five when Adam’s partner Rachel Bradley (Helen Baxendale) died in a car crash in series five back in 2003.
Are there plans for Rachel to make a ghostly apparition? Especially now Adam is struggling to find a partner. “You know, I actually suggested this device to the writers,” says Thomson. “You know, Adam is seen talking to Rachel about his love life and stuff. Helen was approached but she said no.”
If you’re like me, watching Cold Feet can also be a location spotting exercise, with Didsbury featuring heavily in many shots, not to mention Castlefield, Spinningfields and, at one point, Bury.
Thomson says: “The pub that Pete, Adam and David drink in is The Woodstock on Barlow Moor Road, which is great. In fact, so many people have been surprised at how great Manchester looks. They say ‘blimey, I didn’t realise Manchester was so nice – the houses are gorgeous’.”
And it seems James Nesbitt (Adam) and Robert Bathurst (David) are adopted locals while filming (which lasted from March to July last year) because they rent a place in West Didsbury and are often spotted on and around Burton Road.
Despite Thomson being kept busy, will there be another series after this one?
“Yes, I’m sure there will be. Especially after the reaction we’ve had from this series.”
With Cold Feet as good as ever, series nine is definitely worth waiting for.
Images courtesy of Alison Bell
An Evening With John Thomson and Chris Gascoyne is at Salford Lads’ Club on February 23, 2019. Tickets are £12 in advance from https://eventm.uk/coldfeetmeetsthestreet or £15 on the door. Doors and bars open from 7pm, events starts at 8pm.