The return of Cold Feet – fuzzy nostalgia or something bleaker?

Returning after 13 years, the feelgood drama of the late 1990s seems a far gloomier proposition in 2016

After 13 years off our television screens, Cold Feet returns for a new season. Video: ITV


Much has changed since 1997. We may have gained contactless payments, the concept of a Kardashian and four separate peri-peri spice levels, but look at what we’ve lost. Katrina And The Waves. Ladettes sticking it to society by drinking pints. Dreadlocked men called Tim playing slap-bass on a futon bought from The Pier. Collective innocence itself, perhaps.

The world is a frightening and uncertain place now, and if you’re aged over 40 you probably don’t like it. You probably want to return to those carefree days when things were simpler and bottled continental lager still meant something. Well, good news, because 19 years after it first aired and another 13 since its last series, era-defining hit Cold Feet (Monday, 9pm, UTV) is back.

As it happens, in 1997 I was but a slip of a thing, with a bedtime incompatible with the viewing of prime-time drama for the young professional, so my memory of Cold Feet is a little hazy.

The producers of the show claim it was about nothing deeper than the domestic lives of six 30-odd-year-old pals, their babies, break-ups and reconciliations. In hastily YouTubed hindsight, though, it was clearly about the brave new world of the economically healthy 1990s.

A time when anything was possible, where management consultants and salt-of-the-earth northerners could be part of the same social circle. Things, in 1997, could only get better, and it’s this optimism for the future that Cold Feet represented. Well, we can all see how that turned out.

Never let it be said that Cold Feet hasn’t moved with the depressing times. Now its characters are either dead (in the case of Helen Baxendale’s Rachel, killed in a car accident in series five) or just dead miserable.

In the years since they were last on screen, dreary David (Robert Bathurst) has married a stony-faced lawyer he likes even less than his previous wife Karen (Hermione Norris), who in turn looks more dejected than in the previous five series put together. Chipper couple Jenny and Pete (Fay Ripley and John Thomson), once the embodiment of thrusting upward mobility, are now broke and depressed, possibly because their cool, shiny 1990s jobs no longer exist.

Some things haven’t changed. James Nesbitt’s Adam, the kind of man who conjures up the idea of stripping off and clenching a rose between his buttocks in the name of love, still thinks an awful lot of himself.

Since the last series ended Adam has travelled overseas, and his puffed-up air has buoyed him across Asia like a helium balloon filled with self-importance. Now he’s back in the country to deliver some big news, in a scene that might go down in history as the first time a friend returning from foreign travels with an iPhone full of pics has been seen as a positive thing rather than prompting the usual response, where your eyes glaze over and you wish for an early death.

To cynical eyes Cold Feet’s return might look as empty and shallow as Adam’s holiday snaps, but maybe there’s more to it than that. Surveying the characters doesn’t make me want to put on a bucket hat and dance to Faithless. If anything, I’m a bit worried for them. They’re older, sadder, and their children have grown into selfish Generation Me idiots. All the gang have to live for now are mindfulness podcasts; the only respite they have from reality is a pulled pork flatbread.

Maybe Cold Feet 2.0 turns a mirror on what we’ve become. Or, perhaps the shiny gloss of the 1990s was all a lie, and the gloom of GB2k16 is just a return to the status quo.

Either way, things can only get better. – (Guardian Service)