Still Game review: a welcome, hilarious return to Craiglang

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We didn't have to wait nine years this time, but the latest return of Still Game is like a much-needed dram of Scottish comedy to warm the cockles in this so-called Spring.

The residents of Craiglang have changed little since last time (although perhaps there will come a day when the actors reach their characters' age at this rate), and they're still filling their days with boozing, plotting, petty crime and patter.

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'Fly Fishing', the opener of series eight, has all the ingredients of classic Still Game: Jack and Victor's knockabout banter with Boabby the barman reaches new levels of savagery; Isa has another mystery to stick her nose into; Navid is still behind the till of Harrid's and as bone-dry as ever; and Winston is the (literal) butt of the joke once again.

Tam (Mark Cox), Isa (Jane McCarry) and Winston (Paul Riley) in The Clansman (Photo: BBC)

The Clansman's 'West End' makeover

While Still Game's last series blew hot and 'cauld' throughout its run, this is a consistently funny half-hour, mainly thanks to the storyline surrounding The Clansman, the pensioners' no-frills boozer.

When landlord Boabby chastises the regulars for not drinking enough, with the line "this is a bar, no a care home", he opens himself up to a series of withering put-downs from the elderly clientele.

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So after a showy visit from a successful entrepreneur school friend Derek Fry ("was it a school for w*nkers?" Jack enquires), Boabby resolves to do the impossible: turn The Clansman into the kind of trendy gastropub that will make him similarly rich.

Needless to say, this new business plan of £4.50 bottles of craft beer and tablecloths doesn't go down well with Jack, Victor and their drinking buddies. "What even is pulled pork?" says an exasperated Tam. "Sounds like a porno movie."

Sanjeev Kohli is back as Navid in Still Game (Photo: BBC)

Of course, the young-at-heart OAPs won't take this, and after a hilariously failed attempt to try a pint in the even-dodgier pub The Corral (where a punter crashes through the glass door, dusts himself down and heads back inside in classic slapstick style), they go to extremes to recreate The Clansman experience.

The writing's as sharp as ever

Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill's writing in this 51st instalment of Scotland's favourite sitcom is as sharp as ever.

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The Craigland residents are up to their old tricks in Still Game (Photo: BBC)

Still Game might not be pushing any boundaries of the genre, but this is one of the few examples of a long-running sitcom that knows when to shake things up and when to fall back on the well-honed foibles of its distinctive characters.

So the funniest lines are also shared among Winston, Tam, Navid and Isa, there's a cameo from popular new cast member Methadone Mick, and Shug's unconventional attempt at fly-fishing is a pleasing in-joke for those viewers who remember Paul Young in 90s TV show 'Hooked On Scotland'.

At a time of relentlessly grim news headlines, it's comforting to know that little changes in Craiglang - well, apart from The Clansman that is.

Still Game is on BBC One at 9.30pm tonight (8 March)

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