This week we're heading back to the heady days of the late 1990s for Tube Talk Gold! ITV's BAFTA-winning comedy drama series Cold Feet was one of the nation's favourite shows back then, but why exactly was it so good? Well, let's cast our minds back...
Cold Feet: Originally broadcast from March 30, 1997 to March 30, 2003
Actually, it's hard to believe that Cold Feet first began all the way back in 1997 because it's held up so well. Watch it now, and you wouldn't be able to guess that the pilot is almost 15 years old (except for the dodgy cars and fashion). But it's true, although to be honest the series properly began in 1998. Can you believe that after that amazing pilot ITV almost didn't commission a series?
Well, thank goodness they did. Cold Feet is still so fresh in people's minds, and some will still name it as their favourite series. Part of this has to be because of Mike Bullen's wonderful writing. Somehow, the show was brilliantly realistic, even when it had all the signs of a soap. Over the course of five series, the characters would face affairs, weddings, divorces, pregnancies (not all of which were successful), fertility troubles, the troubles of actually having children, drinking problems, cancer and deaths.
And yet somehow the show never seemed to overdo it. Perhaps it's because we came to identify with the characters so much, but even when the affairs started totting up, you still believed it all. Actually, the fabulous cast can take a lot of the credit for this - Adam, Rachel, Pete, Jenny, Karen and David all felt like real people. They weren't perfect - they were frazzled and silly and made stupid decisions. We saw them at their best and their worst. The "Cold Feet generation" even became a handy phrase for tabloids.
Of course, it was really all about Adam and Rachel, and James Nesbitt and Helen Baxendale performed them perfectly. Cold Feet was often compared to Friends, and Adam and Rachel were easily the Ross and Rachel - the couple who couldn't quite get it together, but who you were totally rooting for. Actually, the original pitch for Cold Feet was apparently all about Adam and Rachel, with the others added as an afterthought. You do get that sense - they're the heart of the show. They bring all six leads together, after all (which in itself was great television, as we actually saw people starting new friendships with all the awkwardness that can entail).
That's not to do down the other stars though. I will love Jenny forever just because of Fay Ripley's wonderful voice, and Jenny and Pete's problems were heartbreaking because they started off as such a great couple. Jenny was great fun (I really missed her when Ripley left the show), and John Thomson just made you want to go and have a pint with Pete. Meanwhile, Hermione Norris - who went on to all sorts of things, like Spooks - wasn't afraid to make Karen unlikeable sometimes (and managed the incredible feat of making you love her anyway). And David - poor, hapless David. Robert Bathurst made David hugely infuriating at times (he was so middle class - and often stupid), but again, you really just wanted to give him a hug.
But naturally the cast had to be given good stuff to work with, and writer Mike Bullen certainly performed on that front. From the pilot you know this is a special show - where else would you see James Nesbitt stick a rose up his bum? Because for all the drama mentioned above, there was also an incredible amount of humour. And Cold Feet was special for other reasons, too. The show was never afraid of a good fantasy sequence, which really distinguished it from some other dramas.
By the last ever episode, Cold Feet was using the fantasy sequence for something altogether more heartbreaking, though (and if you've not seen Cold Feet and want to avoid spoilers, you might fancy skipping this paragraph and the video below). The penultimate instalment of the show provoked tears across the country when Rachel - a new mum, thrilled that she's just got her house with Adam, ecstatic that their relationship is back on track - makes the fatal decision to change the cassette tape in her car. That crash - which was a true drama watercooler moment - sticks in the memory more than a lot of scenes (over 10m tuned in to watch). And as if that wasn't hard enough to deal with, the final ever episode saw Rachel's funeral - and Adam struggling to cope with her death. This time, the fantasy sequence wasn't fun - it was Rachel's spirit talking to Adam and helping him to grieve.
Like many shows, Cold Feet was best in its first couple of series (although the later episodes did have wonderful moments - see above). We'd been everywhere from the show's home in Manchester to Paris and Sydney. It's not surprising so many other shows hoped to recapture the magic - the latest was probably Married Single Other - but none has come close. And the less said about the failed US remake, the better (Ripley was not a fan, describing the show as "utterly s**t" and the US Jenny as a "bitch").
So the show will have to live on through our memories (and of course the DVD box sets). And there are always those rumours about a Cold Feet reunion - Baxendale told Digital Spy earlier this year that she'd been approached about a return, and Nesbitt's said he's open to it. Whether that would be a good move is a different matter. For now, it's best just to remember how much fun those original episodes were.
Were you a fan of Cold Feet? Leave your comments below!