A while ago, I penned an article which focused on my Top 10 favourite episodes of the brilliant Scottish sitcom Still Game.
With the programme’s eighth series due to air on BBC One this Thursday, I have decided to revisit the piece and extend my list to twenty which as you’ll all know is ‘plenty’.
Time to spread the word because as Isa would say, “People huv tae know”!
#20 – Cairds (Series 3, Episode 3)
The extended countdown begins with this satisfying episode from Series 3 which proves that community spirit is strong in Craiglang. When Tam beats disabled Joe (John Buick) in a game of cards, he takes the poor man’s disability scooter which leads to Jack, Victor and their friends attempting to get back at their tight-fisted pal. They conjure up a clever plan which is almost ruined by the police but fortunately Joe surprises everyone and triumphs in the end.
However it’s not all satisfying for poor Winston as he pulls off an incredible accumulator win worth over thirty grand and looks to have had the last laugh only for his bookie nemesis Stevie (Matt Costello) to run off with the winnings. Thankfully this story arc would be revisited again a couple of years later albeit with similar results….
#19 – Hatch (Series 4, Episode 5)
An awkward misunderstanding provides the main core of this episode as Jack and Victor decide to get a connecting hatch put in so that they can go between their flats without going across the landing. However after witnessing a half naked Victor in Jack’s flat, nosy neighbour Isa wrongly believes the pair are gay and this leads to some hilarious quips made by Boabby and the Clansman regulars. The old pals eventually discover what has been said and then serve up some sweet revenge on their favourite barman in the men’s toilets.
Elsewhere Winston is put in charge of looking after his rebellious grandson Thomas (Sunset Song’s Kevin Guthrie) but things go wrong when the lad and his pals grow weed in his kitchen. Watch out for those cookies Mr Ingram!
#18 – Dug (Series 2, Episode 9)
Though Still Game has often been known for its humour, this series finale provided a more dramatic angle with Ford Kiernan (Jack) and Greg Hemphill (Victor) putting in strong performances. Our favourite pensioners fall out over their different relationships with their children as Jack makes the bold decision to go to Canada to visit his family. Thankfully the feud is resolved by the episode’s ending when Victor accompanies Jack on his trip which is focused on in the Series 3 opener Hoaliday.
There’s also a hysterical subplot with Winston and Isa pretending to be a couple in order to deceive Isa’s estranged husband Harry (Ronnie Letham). However his suspicions then result in the pair being forced to fake ‘pumping’ each other which is a riotous image to behold!
#17 – Hot Seat (Series 6, Episode 1)
This top notch episode from Series 6 sees Craiglang being hit by a heatwave which is a rare thing to happen in Scotland! As of a result of the boiling weather, Jack and Victor go head-to-head with Winston and Tam over the availability of a popular park bench and this provides plenty of laughs for all involved as well as an unfortunate outcome.
However it’s a frustrating time for poor Isa as she tries to bounce back from the loss of her estranged husband Harry by finding a new man. After being overshadowed by ugly ducking Edith, she then looks to have found someone friendly enough to date only for one repulsive act to put her off completely. Things just don’t always work out for our friends in Craiglang!
#16 – Hoaliday (Series 3, Episode 1)
Though not as funny as most contenders on the list, this effective outing saw our pensioner pals spend time in Canada with Jack’s lovely daughter Fiona (Marj Hogarth) and her family. As with ‘Dug’, this episode has a bit of emotion to it with Kiernan and an underrated Hogarth sharing touching chemistry as father and daughter. However there are chuckles abroad for the old pals as their rowdy behaviour reaches the heavy heights of one of the tallest buildings in the world.
The laughs also come from the subplot back home where Winston tries to avoid listening to Isa with help from Eric. But our favourite gossiper soon gets wind of what’s going on and punishes him rather bluntly by telephone.
#15 – Down and Out (Series 7, Episode 6)
The most recent episode of the sitcom so far sees the pensioners horrified when they learn that Osprey Heights is to be demolished. However when Jack, Victor and Isa are placed in a care home, they end up being targeted by Ronnie Ancona who does her best Nurse Ratched impression in a subplot sharing strong links with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Thankfully help is at hand when the Craiglang regulars come to their rescue in another strong outing for community spirit.
We also get the nerve-wracking ending of Winston and Tam desperately racing to escape from Osprey Heights when it is about to be torn down though luckily fate intervenes.
#14 – Plum Number (Series 6, Episode 8)
This festive favourite has plenty of charm throughout as Jack and Victor surprise everyone by showing off their singing talents on the choir. Though the pair are ridiculed by their Clansman pals, they seek help from their local boozer in staging choir practice for a crucial competition which (unsurprisingly) leads to things going wrong. Not to mention that fan favourite Edith (Maureen Carr) is keen to show off her singing talents!
Meanwhile Winston takes on the job of Lollipop Man but is forced to relocate to a rough school with underprivileged children that does tie in well with the choir storyline. Lots of Christmas cheer to go around!
#13 – Kill Wullie (Series 4, Episode 1)
This solid installment sees the old men of Craiglang left flustered by big-bosomed cafe waitress Rena (Julie Miller) although they are soon disappointed when they discover she is romantically involved with scrounging pensioner Wullie (Jackie Reid). However a suspicious Isa believes that Rena may be planning to off Wullie which inevitably leads to a morbid conclusion. We also have Jack and Victor playing cupid as they help set up rebellious ned Fergie (Jamie Quinn) with his future missus Sinead (Claire Gray).
The episode has a lot of major laughs throughout as Winston discovers that his temporary new leg resembles a female mannequin (with nail polish) while we get some of Navid’s best moments here when he revels in listening to his Indian music. Quality indeed!
#12 – Wummin (Series 2, Episode 1)
Another top-class opener to a series sees Jack and Victor try to help their recently-widowed friend Bert (Brian Pettifer) when it becomes clear that he is unable to look after himself. Unfortunately this culminates with them having to move a pot of pish that he has hidden under his bed in a scene highly regarded as one of the funniest Still Game moments.
The episode also ties in well with Winston’s subplot as the fiery pensioner gets some home help from the strict Mrs Begg (played by renowned British actress Celia Imrie) but has to lie about having a dodgy leg (which would come back to haunt him). That ‘dodgy leg’ is also humorously referenced in the episode’s cracking post-credits scene as Jack, Victor and Winston come up with a rude musical tribute to Mrs Begg.
#11 – A Fresh Lick (Series 5, Episode 2)
Just shy of the top ten, Jack and Victor’s offer to redecorate Isa’s flat inevitably leads to trouble in this cracking episode. The duo convince her to jib off original choice Chris the Postie but things go awry during a visit to the DIY store and in the actual flat itself. These antics are cringe-inducing (never trust Victor with a power tool!) though their mishaps are resolved in a convenient way thanks to Chris.
Meanwhile, Tam stumbles across a videotape belonging to Boabby that shows the Clansman barman taking part in his own porno many years ago. As expected, the male Craiglang regulars get to watch the tape but Boabby finds out and is left humiliated when Shug accidentally plays the footage on a giant screen outside the local shopping centre! Oooer….
#10 – Hogmany Special: The Party (Series 5, Episode 7)
The origins of our old heroes are brilliantly explored in the classic Hogmany special set between past and present. Here we have Jack, Victor, Winston and Isa getting themselves ready to celebrate Hogmany only for their lift to break down. Realising that they may struggle for help (plus Winston REALLY needs to go for a pish!), the group reminisce about their first Hogmany together which leads to a flashback that takes place in the 1970s.
This section of the episode is a lot of fun to watch as we see Kiernan, Hemphill and the rest of the cast getting a rare opportunity to appear as their actual selves (barring the 70s makeup of course). It’s a refreshing outlook on the characters plus it’s nice to see Jack and Victor’s wives appear properly for the first time.
It’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to see a prequel but nevertheless, it’s a terrific episode that injects plenty of humour in both time periods.
#9 – Lights Out (Series 6, Episode 3)
Even in its sixth series, Still Game managed to maintain its strong consistency particularly in this satisfying episode. When a truck crashes into the electric sub-station, the people of Craiglang are left without power which leads to mass panic. Worst still, thieves are going around stealing from their homes with Isa’s flat amongst those being targeted. Aided by the help of their big-eared friend Shug (Paul Young), Jack and Victor decide to protect themselves with a turkey basker filled with blue ink which results in poor Isa getting accidentally sprayed.
The best part of the episode is saved for the final few minutes as a couple of burglars dressed as policemen steal our heroes’s belongings and attempt to flee in the lift. Fortunately, the crowd-pleasing payoff comes from Winston as he takes the pair out with the old snooker ball in a sock.
Round of applause for Mr Ingram!
#8 – Dial-A-Bus (Series 4, Episode 3)
An exhilarating entry to the list sees four different storylines take place in an episode that features a memorable guest appearance from one Scotland’s great actors. The central plot sees Jack and Victor decide to take the lazy option of using a Dial-A-Bus to transport them to the Clansman. However driver Davie (played by Cracker and Harry Potter star Robbie Coltrane) begins to act strangely and then proceeds to go on a driving frenzy that leaves the pair and Isa in trouble.
Elsewhere Boabby goes on a rare break out in the country but doesn’t count on a scheming Winston hijacking the bar while Tam and Navid endure a hectic time at the Cash N Carry. It’s an entertaining episode that heavily involves all seven main characters but it’s Coltrane who steals the show in a role that he clearly had a lot of fun playing.
Just make sure you don’t mention doughnuts to him…..
#7 – The Undrinkables (Series 7, Episode 2)
This belter of an episode is another that has a lot going on as we said goodbye to one beloved character yet welcomed a new favourite to the series.
When ‘hooch’ alcohol is being sold throughout Craiglang and making people go temporarily blind, Jack and Victor decide to take action and gatecrash Tam’s anniversary meal with hilarious results. There’s also Boabby’s decision to quit running the Clansman which leads to angry one-off favourite Mark (Frank Gilhooley) terrifying the customers.
The biggest factor of the episode is the sad loss of the popular Pete the Jakey whose actor Jake D’Arcy died before Series 7 was made. The character’s presence does have a significant effect on this outing whether it be his funeral (complete with Winston’s unfortunate role as pallbearer) or the gifts he leaves to his old pals in the touching ending. But as one door closes, another one opens as we also get the introduction of drug addict Methadone Mick (excellent newcomer Scott Reid) whose role in the series grows from strength to strength.
#6 – Big Yin (Series 3, Episode 4)
This fun inclusion sees Craiglang overrun by neds (Scottish chavs) which leads to Jack and Victor taking action by contacting their old friend Big Innes. Played by established Scottish actor Clive Russell (recently seen as the Blackfish in Game of Thrones), Innes is a giant of a man who has the ability to eat entire boxes of cereal and large steaks yet he can also block Isa’s toilet with his excrement! However his weakness for Midori causes concern for Jack and Victor as the pair desperately try to hide the liqueur from their tall friend.
We also get to see Winston working in a supermarket though the job proves frustrating for him as he deals with ridicule from his younger colleagues. It’s a daft but enjoyable episode that inevitably leads to Innes creating havoc in the climax!
Word to the wise, never leave Midori when a big bloke is around!
#5 – Ring (Series 4, Episode 4)
The first time I ever clapped eyes on Still Game was from this riotous episode which sees Tam and his librarian fiancee Frances (Kate Donnelly) preparing to get married. Jack, Victor and co. decide to take responsibility of sorting out Tam’s stag night / wedding ceremony even if it all ends up being a cheap affair (pies from Greggs anyone?). However things are further complicated when Jack accidentally swallows the groom’s wedding ring whilst pulling off a trick.
This results in a lot of hysterical toilet humour as the pair race against time to get the ring to the soon-to-be newlyweds. We also have an enjoyable subplot in which Navid has to deal with his shop being converted into a Spire store though he eventually decides to stand his ground when his new employers try to get rid of Isa.
Not a bad first episode to be introduced to!
#4 – Job (Series 7, Episode 3)
An hysterical outing sees Methadone Mick become a new favourite for Still Game fans as Jack and Victor try to help him get a job. Scott Reid’s acting CV soared in this episode as the young addict gets himself into peculiar situations such as mistaking Isa’s door as being magic. He also undergoes a new look which brings about hilarious results that share a strong resemblance to the Cat becoming Duane Dibley in Red Dwarf. Mick’s teeth are that popular that they were being sold as merchandise at the recent Still Game stage show!
Elsewhere, Winston tries to get rid of an old parking fine by accompanying Boabby to the Town Hall where the Clansman barman is picking up an award. Unsurprisingly, Winston encounters trouble along the way but just when things look to have been resolved, the Mick storyline ties everything together leaving the unlucky pensioner to rue another failure.
Here’s hoping Mick has more legendary moments to come in Series 8!
#3 – Swottin (Series 3, Episode 2)
After being bored of sitting around at home, Jack and Victor decide to become bookworms in this exceptional episode that is strengthened by its sublime climax. As the pair start to learn about medical training at their university, they soon begin to experience the bad habits of being a student as they choose to ditch attending lectures in favour of drinking heavily.
Meanwhile Boabby decides to organise a pub quiz at the Clansman but is left red-faced when he takes his flirtiness with the pretty quizmaster Margot too far. The role is eventually taken by series-favourite Edith (Maureen Carr) who makes a welcoming return after her memorable debut appearance in the Series 1 episode ‘Courtin’.
This leads to a fantastic ending as failed students Jack and Victor are called upon to deal with a woman going into labour which results in the pair of them (along with Winston and Boabby) fainting in a matter of seconds. Hilarious stuff from an episode that also includes Navid’s epic Anne Robinson rant!
#2 – Doacters (Series 2, Episode 3)
Just short of my number one spot is this smashing entry from Series 2 which benefits from having two terrific storylines. Firstly Jack and Victor become bored of wasting their lives away and decide to follow in the footsteps of their friend Stewart (Alec Heggie) by getting their hands on an American drug that can make them more active. Their investment seems to work a treat especially when they decide to show off their new lease of life by dancing away to Daniel Boone’s classic song “Beautiful Sunday”, one of the more iconic moments from the sitcom.
But like always, things go wrong as proven in the final scene where they discover the drug has side-effects. The other major subplot sees Winston and Tam battle for the affections of librarian Frances by proving their passion for books. The latter eventually triumphs but Winston has his revenge in the most disgusting yet satisfying way.
A lot of people will never look at ‘War and Peace’ the same again!
#1 – Drama (Series 5, Episode 1)
A close call in the end, but my number one favourite episode is a pure rollercoaster of nerves as Winston takes centre stage. Upon discovering that his old nemesis Stevie the Bookie (Matt Costello) is back in town with a new identity, he vows to finally get the £32,500 he deservedly won back in Series 3. His bid doesn’t get off to the best of starts when he accidentally assaults a horse but the satisfying moment when he and Tam deceive Stevie in the toilets is definitely one for us fans to savour.
However we find ourselves feeling tortured again when Winston is hounded in his mind by horse-racing expert John McCiririck into throwing all his money away. All seems lost until he ends up winning it back and making extra dosh in the process! This excitement makes us forget that Jack and Victor are involved in their own humourous subplot which sees them get up to mischief at the brewery.
In the end though, it’s Winston’s story that dominates the episode though his overdue victory is sadly tainted in a jaw-dropping final scene that makes us sympathise yet howl with laughter at the poor old bugger’s misfortunes!