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Interview John Thomson: Feet first; In-demand actor and comedian John Thomson has appeared in TV roles as diverse as the brush salesman husband of a female footballer and the compere of a fake jazz show. And Olivia Convey finds he reveals even more hidden talents in the third series of Cold Feet.

Byline: Olivia Convey

It is not just cold feet that John Thomson reveals when he returns as Pete in the popular comedy drama series.

In fact, he pretty much bares all, but admits that his blushes are spared by a box of cornflakes.

'It was a family-sized box though,' he points out proudly, adding with a smile. 'I insisted on wearing a thong as well - I didn't want to make anyone jealous.

'Cold Feet nudity is just one of the things you have to accept - people do get naked. It was tough though, wearing a G-string is not comfortable.'

Thomson, 30, is back in the long-awaited third series of Cold Feet, along with his co-stars Helen Baxendale and James Nesbitt as Rachel and Adam, Hermione Norris and Robert Bathurst as Karen and David and Fay Ripley as Pete's estranged wife Jenny.

At the end of the second series the couple broke up after Pete's infidelity - and despite the fact that his character has cheated on his family, Thomson admits he received letters of support from the public.

'I have won hands down on the sympathy vote this time,' he says smugly. 'The deal Pete gets can only be described as mental cruelty. But even in the last series, people said they sobbed their hearts out over that final scene,' he says. 'It was on the beach at Lindisfarne and even though I had been a bad lad, they still felt for me.

'In this series it means that I have very few scenes with Fay and it was hard not working with her - we are a top team. The scenes we did have were a joy, we always have a good laugh together and it shows on camera.

'But, this series, I have a lot of heavy, emotional stuff and because of the subject matter, some days were a bit of a downer. It meant I had to turn on the jester a bit stronger, to keep myself happy.'

However filming the show was not without its lighter moments, one of which was visiting co-star James Nesbitt's home turf of Coleraine for a bachelor party in the series.

'Jimmy is an ambassador for Ireland,' grins Thomson. 'We went to his home town of Coleraine in Northern Ireland and had the best time. I've never had such a warm welcome.

'It will do wonders for tourism, because it is this beautiful place and not many people know about it. We had an amazing time, although Jimmy and I had to work out a schedule for going out.

'There wasn't so much partying because my plot-lines were so strong. But planning it alongside our filming schedule worked out brilliantly - I'd recommend it to other actors,' he jokes.

Making people laugh has been Thomson's stock-in-trade, since his early days as a stand-up comic and his award-winning appearances with Steve Coogan on both stage and screen. Indeed Coogan's creation of the character Fat Bob sealed Thomson's fate as a comedy icon.

But it was The Fast Show that really brought out his inventive and adaptable talents - and it may never have happened.

'I nearly took a part in the film Funny Bones with Lee Evans,' he reveals. 'But I chose The Fast Show instead.

'I later discovered that, for all sorts of reasons, the film was cut and all I would have said was, 'look Sarge, talcum powder'. So choosing The Fast Show was quite shrewd on my part.'

He says the decision not to accept the film role was a combination of nervousness and the belief that The Fast Show would be a better career move in the long run.

'I just had a gut feeling about it, even though the excitement was massive at being offered my first film.

'But I thought 'hang on, you've got to crawl before you can start walking. The Fast Show will do more favours for me in the long run' - and it has.'

But Thomson's popularity has in many ways been a double-edged sword. Since starring in the original episodes of Cold Feet, North-West born Thomson has found himself in such demand that at one point, he was working on The Fast Show, Cold Feet and the Kay Mellor series Playing The Field.

'I thought I had a multiple personality,' he says wryly. 'It was a nightmare, just too much to take on board. I would be in a fast car, driving from one set to another after three hours' sleep and then having to start over. Never again.

'I did a bit on The Fast Show while I was doing this series of Cold Feet, but I have backed off from the rest.'

However, Thomson is currently filming in deepest Oxfordshire for a BBC family film Station Jim, due to be shown next Easter and is also preparing for the release of the next episode of The Fast Show.

Thomson explains: 'It was supposed to be a 40-minute special but we shot so much material that now we've got The Last Fast Show Ever I and The Last Fast Show Ever II.

'You can expect all the old favourites, a few new characters and a special guest appearance by Johnny Depp. I'm not in that scene with him but I've been out with Johnny - he's a good guy.'

And despite his hectic schedules, he promises not to give up on making us laugh completely.

'I'd be a fool to deny the comedy,' he says simply. 'But I would like to do more dramatic stuff too. I only really do the stand-up stuff for charity or for things like opening the Comedy Store up in Manchester recently. That was special because it was my home turf.'

Cold Feet is on Central on Sundays.

Saturday 18.11.00 Page 5

CAPTION(S):

One of John Thomson's famous comedy roles was as the comically challenged barman in classic BBC sitcom Men Behaving Badly, top, with Martin Clunes and Neil Morrissey; above are two of his Cold Feet colleagues returning for a third series, James Nesbitt and Helen Baxendale
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 18, 2000
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