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Cold Feet slow, tedious and flawed but could it still warm up?

Fionola Meredith gives her verdict on the 30-somethings who grew up

Published 06/09/2016

James Nesbitt with the rest of the Cold Feet cast in last night’s episode
James Nesbitt with the rest of the Cold Feet cast in last night’s episode
The original cast including Helen Baxendale
Cold Feet cast Fay Ripley, John Thomson, James Nesbitt, Robert Bathurst, Hermonie Norris and Helen Baxendale
Scenes from Cold Feet
Scenes from Cold Feet
Robert Bathurst, Fay Ripley, John Thomson, Hermione Norris and James Nesbitt feature in the new series of Cold Feet
Steve Lee Cold Feet 5 Sept 2016
The cast of Cold Feet are getting back together, minus Helen Baxendale

It's been 13 years since we last met the cast of Cold Feet. How we - and they - have altered in that time.

Oh sure, Adam (James Nesbitt) is as swaggeringly full of himself as ever: some things never change.

But these formerly exuberant, perky 30-somethings are visibly older and wrinklier, they have awkward, ungrateful teenage children, and the world that they inhabit is no longer one of possibility, chance and romantic intrigue.

More: 170k Northern Ireland viewers tune in for James Nesbitt's Cold Feet return

Well, it is - it has to be, or it wouldn't be Cold Feet. But it's like watching tortoises mating - you know it will be slow, laborious, rather tedious and there won't be much to show at the end of it.

"I miss my future being ahead of me," said Pete (John Thomson) mournfully, contemplating his impoverished current existence as a part-time mini-cab driver and care worker.

Well, at least he still has Jenny (Fay Ripley) at his side, to keep him relatively sane.

The others are less fortunate.

David (Robert Bathurst) has morphed into a ghastly, grinning old creep who doesn't like his wife Robin, and he suspects the feeling is mutual.

I'm sure he's correct.

Cold Feet cast Fay Ripley, John Thomson, James Nesbitt, Robert Bathurst, Hermonie Norris and Helen Baxendale
Cold Feet cast Fay Ripley, John Thomson, James Nesbitt, Robert Bathurst, Hermonie Norris and Helen Baxendale
Scenes from Cold Feet
Scenes from Cold Feet
Robert Bathurst, Fay Ripley, John Thomson, Hermione Norris and James Nesbitt feature in the new series of Cold Feet
Steve Lee Cold Feet 5 Sept 2016
The cast of Cold Feet are getting back together, minus Helen Baxendale

David's best idea? To inveigle himself back into the arms of his ex, Karen (Hermione Norris), a woman whose face appears to be permanently set in a cold, pained and disapproving grimace.

No more frolics for Karen.

As for Adam, he's gone and married a woman 18 years younger than him, and whom he's known for only six months.

Yet even on the day of the wedding, he's exchanging flirtatious moments with his foxy landlady, who's barely seen him for five minutes before she's seductively straightening his tie.

Yes, I know. What could possibly go wrong?

It must be said that James Nesbitt appears to re-occupy the role of Adam effortlessly.

He's still, in spirit, the bobbly-haired, self-consciously kooky lothario who posed with a rose between his buttocks, declaring his love for Rachel.

Now Rachel is long dead and buried, Adam's hair is short and greying, and he wears tight denim jackets that are way too young for him. But he remains terribly pleased with himself, in an altogether smug and occasionally charming way.

It does make you wonder how long Nesbitt can go on playing the archetypal cheeky-chappie.

Still, he's got this far, perhaps he can carry the character on into old age, swaggering creakily, raising a gnarled eyebrow, waving his zimmer-frame at the ladies.

One real and rather bizarre difficulty I had with the return of Cold Feet was that I kept seeing Nesbitt not as the essentially harmless Adam, but as the murderous dentist Colin Howell, whom he recently played to such superlative effect in the controversial ITV drama, The Secret.

Nesbitt owned that role, he defined it, and when that happens, it's hard to get the association out of your mind.

Even when you really, really want to. Cold Feet is perfectly decent entertainment, I suppose, in a mild, tame and unchallenging away. But every plot move seems awfully predictable and clunky.

Maybe we didn't notice that in the past, because the characters were younger and livelier and sexually audacious, they carried the action and kept it fresh.

Now, in the full stodginess of middle age, you feel each fairly leaden step. Would dead Rachel approve of this reckless new marriage of Adam's? That was the burning question of this first episode. To be honest, it was hard to feel particularly strongly about it, one way or the other, especially if you could barely remember Rachel herself. And that's the real flaw here.

Younger viewers, coming to the series for the first time, through this new incarnation, must be wondering - who are these people?

Why are they friends?

What could they possibly have in common?

For a plot this light to work, you have to already care about the characters. They have to mean something to you. And there's no doubt that many people do care - or at least they did, all those years ago - so maybe that affection can be re-awakened.

Maybe the convoluted lives of Adam, Pete, Jenny, David and Karen will seem even more fascinating, to some, now that they have reached the drear wastelands of middle age.

But if you didn't care that much first time round - or if you've never even heard of Cold Feet before - then there's little here to draw you in.

Belfast Telegraph

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