Interview extra

Fay Ripley, Cold FeetAugust 25, 2016

The return of Cold Feet after 13 years is one of the most hotly-anticipated TV events since the show ended in 2003, so spare a thought for the original stars, who are reprising their much-loved roles. Fay Ripley, back as Jenny Gifford, admits the series – which ran from 1997 – was ‘100 per cent my big break’ and reveals her thoughts, second time round.

It feels as if you’ve never been away…
It’s a weird thing to get your brain around but the minute we walked into the room, everyone slotted into the same sense of humour. I’m still telling the same jokes! Jenny lives in the same house in Didsbury where we filmed previously so everywhere you go is familiar. It’s home to a certain extent and therefore safe, warm and good. As long as it’s not rubbish, it’s all going to be good!

Have you kept in touch with the rest of the cast in the interim?
Everyone used to ask if we were like ‘Friends’, I think they thought we lived in the same flat but we did all have families and go off to do different work. So to a certain extent our lives separated, that’s what happens but yes, we did keep in contact. Mainly I would Tweet John Thomson but every now and then I’d think, ‘We can use a phone and I can actually call you!’

Are you sad Helen Baxendale’s not involved?
I was sad but we all know about Bobby Ewing in the shower and we’re not blind to that televisual mistake! Helen’s very individual and I admire her enormously and I think it’s dead right. What are you going to do? Write her back in? If she had popped up and we were all pretending her character wasn’t dead, would anyone have watched it? It is what it is and we miss her.

Where do we find Jenny and husband Pete at the start of this series?
They’re together and she’s working but it’s a means to an end rather than a career job. The family relies on Jenny paying the bills which causes some problems in her relationship with Pete, and she’s fairly vocal in being p***** off about taking the strain. It’s believable, their relationship was always slightly flawed and I like playing that because I recognise it.

What’s it been like working with the teenagers who play the screen children?
I think it’s an age thing but I become doting towards anyone who’s young. I stare at them, their skin, their hair, but not in a weird way. This is happening to my children and I love young people. The ones that end up on TV sets are normally very polite, they don’t tend to mug you!

Will they attract a new audience?
Who knows… At the moment we’re guaranteed my mum, my dad and some young cousins. I can’t second guess but I think people who loved Cold Feet will still really love it.

It really struck a chord first time around, will it do that this time?
The characters have grown up, we’ve grown up and the audience has grown up, no one’s been trapped in time, these are our lives now. It’s like Grand Designs when they go back to the houses and they all have children.

Have your children watched the original?
No, but they’re super aware of it. They don’t really like watching mum on telly in case I kiss someone but I think they’ll be OK with John!

You left Cold Feet in series four and returned in series five, do you regret that now?
I have always put my life first and there were lots of reasons for me to leave. People thought it was because I wanted to have a baby and get married. I did do that, but I actually left to do another show for the same producers. It was the arrogance of youth, me saying, ‘I’ve had enough of this massive hit! I’m going to go and just stay at home!’ I didn’t regret leaving and life’s been kind to me but sometimes when the others talk about series five and going to Australia, I wonder why I did it!

ITV, Monday

Mary Comerford

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