Oh, Cold Feet, how we loved you. We loved how you looked, we loved how you sounded and we loved how you made us laugh then cry within seconds. We loved your five series, five soundtracks and four tie-in books’ worth… and now it turns out we loved you enough for a sixth series. Because, tonight at 9pm, we see the return of David, Karen, Pete, Jenny and Adam. But not Rachel – mercifully, not Rachel. More of that later.
Launched in 1998, one short year into the golden optimism of Blair’s pre-Iraq era, Cold Feet was conceived by Mike Bullen and Granada TV as an antidote to the BBC’s stodgy Sunday-night fare. After all, 18 years ago, period drama was devoid of bare-chested Adonises or sleek high-budget thrillers. We had been making do with the thin gruel of Pa Larkin’s innuendoes, Nick Berry’s sedate Yorkshire-based crime-busting and a Ballykissangel that didn’t even feature Colin Farrell yet. On top of this, Countryfile was still on in the morning. For shame.
Consequently, when Cold Feet arrived, it felt as if Sunday evenings had been to a party with Robbie Williams and All Saints and returned with a goodie bag. There were people who weren’t just under 40, but actually behaved as if they were, too. They lived in a cool city, hung out with people who weren’t only ever as white as them and they spoke about things we either did or longed to. Soundtracks were the songs we danced to at the weekend, the whole thing was shot on film and plot lines weren’t about raising funds for the church roof but about infidelity, infertility and infuriating but beloved friends.
Even during the darker storylines – of which there were many –the show felt largely comforting. Perhaps it was the optimism of those early Blair/Britpop years, when characters that age really did think that things could only get better. Or perhaps it was simply that it just missed the all-encompassing carwash of irony that seemed to douse so much other TV that came after it. Then again, it could have been the calibre of people who worked on the show, which ranged from The King’s Speech’s Tom Hooper to One Day’s David Nicholls, who wrote much of series three.
Even during the darker storylines, the show felt comforting. Perhaps it was the optimism of those early Blair/Britpop years, when characters that age really did think that things could only get better
The This Life reunion episode was a witless travesty, but that was a show which had always seen itself as “edgy”. It’s really hard to be just as cool as you thought you were 10 years ago. Cold Feet, despite its glossy locations, was never edgy and seemed to relish merely shaking up the 9pm “ironing slot”. It made us laugh, it made us chat and it made us feel a little bit better about ourselves when we were nervous about work – or a lack of it – in the morning.
The new series sees the gang back together but, this time, the kids whose presence, absence or custody was the driving narrative behind so much of the show are all grown up. It will be interesting to see if the dynamic works – after all, the lead cast are now the age that the original show was a kickback against. But the most positive sign is the absence of Helen Baxendale’s Rachel. She was always weak tea, rarely more than a backdrop for James Nesbitt’s showier Adam, and I suspect Baxendale knew as much. The storyline that rendered her infertile as a result of an abortion is the only one that now seems bafflingly dated, archaic in its cruelty and misinformation. The less she is mentioned, the stronger the reboot will feel.
In short, Cold Feet, if you can make us laugh, I am pretty sure you can get away with anything. You don’t need to chase coolness (it’s Monday night; we won’t be able to handle it), you don’t need to be political (who wants a Brexit Britain show?) and you don’t need to create a new genre (dramedy is all yours and always has been). Please, just make us smile, make us feel a bit better about the end of the summer, make sure you still have really nice lamps in everyone’s houses, OK?
Cold Feet is on ITV on September 5 at 9pm