James Nesbitt Interview (Series 8)

This interview was conducted prior to series eight.

What can we look forward to in the new series of Cold Feet?

I think this series of Cold Feet is very strong. I’m really pleased with it. There’s big scope, range and ambition. It’s the best one of the reboots and one of the best there’s ever been. It’s found its place again. The previous series were good but now it really seems to have got its mojo back and is moving in the right direction.


You filmed the opening scenes in Anglesey. What was that like to shoot?

It’s a great opening scene with our writer Mike Bullen wrong-footing the audience. It’s important to remember within the context of TV that Cold Feet was an innovative show in its time. It introduced a lot of devices that hadn’t been seen before. They were then taken up by other shows. The idea of fantasy and flashback and all that. Which is commonplace now. 


Also those wrong-footing devices that Mike writes are very much at the heart of the DNA of Cold Feet. I think this series has everything we still expect from the show but it has really stepped up to the modern television arena.I’m delighted with it.


There is some classic Mike Bullen writing in this series. Including one scene involving Adam in episode two. It’s where Cold Feet is at its best. It’s very funny, original, surprising and tied up with a kind of epiphany for Adam. One of the most important moments of clarity since his wife Rachel died. A very key moment. It comes into focus where he’s been going wrong, what he needs to do and what he actually wants to do.


Do we see Adam finally growing up in this series?

Growing up is such a broad term. But unquestionably Adam undergoes a change in this series. There is a moment of clarity. Maybe a moment of self-awareness. Which is really motivated mostly by his son Matt (Ceallach Spellman). It’s almost like he’s been waiting for this moment for a long time. And sometimes it takes people longer to get there than others. 


Where Cold Feet has been strong over the years is in identifying things like that in the human psyche. Adam has always been scared of this moment because he thinks that then somehow changes him for the worse. It takes away some of the real spark to his

own identity, his individuality. But actually, as he finds, it hopefully enhances it. It’s just a natural progression that everyone has to face in life. We all have to go through different chapters in life and write new chapters. I think this is one that has been waiting to be written for a long time.


Also from an audience point of view it’s important Adam got to this stage. Otherwise it just gets a bit boring. It’s also important that Adam got his likeability back. It’s an important series for Adam in terms of how he grows and progresses. Also in terms of his relationship with the audience.


But just by him maybe growing up a bit doesn’t mean he has lost his vulnerability, his childishness and immaturity. Yet he has somehow become more mature. I’m pleased about how it has gone.


David (Robert Bathurst) says Adam has ‘a selfish vein of arrogance’. Is that fair?

I think that is fair. I don’t think it’s necessarily conscious. But certainly, Adam can be selfish. He sometimes doesn’t have a lot of consideration. But it’s not malevolent. He’s also kind and funny and a supportive friend. But certainly, he’s always been someone who’s been selfish.


Adam says he’s not ready to grow old. Does he mean that?

I think the minute you say that it means you are ready to grow old. There’s something about confronting it. It’s challenging the notion of it. That’s why you say you’re not ready. But what is unspoken is, ‘But I have to.’ Most of the time we dismiss it. We’re in denial. So I think that’s quite astute.


Adam is thinking, ‘What am I here for? Matt is my legacy. Do I have other chapters to write in my life?’ Adam does have other chapters to write but he also wants to be with his son. So all of these things collide.


We ask ourselves these questions all of the time. Those of us who are of this age are at a critical point in our lives. Our children have grown up or are growing up. I’ve got a 21-year-old and a 16-year-old embarking on their lives. I want to be around for them as much as possible but yet they want to be away, which is natural. I’ve got to consider what’s happening with the rest of my life.


If ever there was a right time for Cold Feet, in a sense it is now. The characters are getting to their 50s when life is supposed to get settled. But life can also unravel then as well. As we see in this series, all of the characters are facing their own challenges and yet they are still bound together. I like that there is unravelling. And yet there they all are together, relying on each other, jostling with each other, supporting each other. It has that rather rich tapestry.


It’s interesting how it’s your close friends who are the people who help you come to your senses, keep you grounded and offer the best advice. Cold Feet reminds you what friendship is. You just need those little moments.


We see some old footage of the Cold Feet characters. How did that make you feel?

Truthfully I found that very moving to watch. A lot of it was from the very first pilot episode 20 years ago. Any emotion you see is very easily summoned up in that scene.


Also it was just looking back on my own life. Looking back at the importance Cold Feet has had in my career. That was really right at the nascence. At the beginning. It was such a lovely thing to be able to do in this series.


How would you describe Adam’s changing relationship with his son Matt?

One of the traps parents fall into is becoming far too friendly with their teenagers. I completely understand the notion of communication. That’s one of the great things which has changed, certainly for my generation, the ability to communicate with your children and listen as well.


But as great as it is to be friendly I think it’s also important that your parents are something to rebel against. It’s interesting in this series that Matt lays down what the boundaries need to be rather than the other way around. 


I can see what Adam is trying to do. But Adam is doing it for himself. Not for Matt. And that’s what the difference is. Having two children I’m constantly learning the more grown up they get. I think people will relate to that story.


There are scenes at a music festival. Are you a festival-goer?

I once introduced Ash on stage at the Leeds Festival. But generally, I’m not a festival-goer. Although I am someone who does camping. I’ve done a lot of that over the years. 


When the kids were young about 20 of us used to go and do that. They loved it. There’s nothing kids love more than just being able to run around a field with each other, hide and play. Camping is glorious.


The weather was just so bizarre when we were filming the music festival scenes. It was boiling one minute and chucking it down with rain the next. It made continuity quite difficult. But you don’t notice that when you watch it on screen. There’s also a bit of dancing. It was fun. You have to throw yourself into it.


David talks about losing sight of what is important. Is that easy to do today?

I think it’s very easily done today. There is so much distraction. So much going on. When I was growing up I had a Slade poster and a Manchester United poster in my bedroom and that was it. No mobile phone, computer, games or whatever.


What were some of the other highlights for you in this series?

I also loved working with Eve Myles who plays a character called Caitlin. She has natural funny bones. While John Thomson (Pete) and I loved filmed scenes on a golf driving range. Hitting golf balls all day. John cracks me up.


We see Adam in control at a barbecue. Is that something you would do off screen?

I’ll let other people do it. Because other people are usually better than me at most things like that. If I’m controlled by anything I’m controlled by my daughters.


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