FOR more than 20 years, Greg Hemphill played an old man in Still Game. Finally, in his latest role in the comedy-drama series Dinosaur, he gets to act his age.

The Scot jokingly compared his career to the film The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, saying that perhaps in 10 years he might get cast as a teenager.

Hemphill appears alongside Ashley Storrie and Matilda Curtis in Dinosaur. The series, which launches on BBC Three next week, follows Nina [Storrie], an autistic woman in her 30s, who adores living with her sister and best friend, Evie [Kat Ronney].

They have a routine, and they understand each other like no-one else could, until Evie rushes into an engagement only six weeks after meeting someone.

Hemphill stars as Ade, Nina and Evie’s dad. The supporting cast includes River City’s Sally Howitt, David Carlyle, Lorn Macdonald and Still Game’s Sanjeev Kohli (below).

The National: Sanjeev Kohli (35968809)

Hemphill admitted that before taking the role he didn’t have a great knowledge of autism and how it might affect the fictional family’s dynamic.

However, he said: “As with anything in life, the more information you take in, the more normal things seem. We took in a lot of information through the course of filming the show and there was a lot of learning done.

"Then, you get to the end and realise that this is a family. It’s no different from any other family and that’s a nice revelation.

"It’s not as if you have a [guide] to tell you what to do in certain situations. There isn’t any of that, it’s just people being people and the dynamics are no different.”

Hemphill spent more than two decades writing sketches and leading sitcoms such as Still Game and Chewin’ The Fat.

The shows entered the zeitgeist of Scottish culture and this inevitably brought an incredible amount of pressure to the creative process.

Therefore, Hemphill relished the challenge of stepping back and playing more of a supporting role in Dinosaur. “It was nice to not be front and centre because it’s a different kind of pressure,” he said.

“The pressure now is still intense because you’re wanting to do a good job for the central characters and you want to make sure you are doing your bit to support them and make sure they’re happy.

“With Still Game, you are in the centre of the eye of the hurricane. People come up to you and ask if you are happy or if you want to do that scene again. It’s an interesting shift and a really fun one.”

Co-writer and lead star Storrie, the daughter of Janey Godley (below), comes from a stand-up background and occasionally when the cameras were rolling she would use her quick wit to improvise. This was another new experience for Hemphill as he said that there was “hardly any” improv in Still Game.

The National: Janey Godley

“We did all of our laughing in the writing stage and then they were set. We knew the jokes were funny because we laughed at them so we didn’t want to mess with them,” he said.

“We stuck to the architecture of the script but everyone is different and that is so exciting and fun. It can be whatever you want it to be.”

He laughs: “Our experience of Still Game was, ‘Here’s the script. Stick to it. Anyone strays from it then there will be hell to pay!’.”

Earlier this year, Hemphill travelled around Scotland with his wife, Julie Wilson Nimmo, and went wild swimming in some of the country’s most scenic spots.

The idea for the series Jules And Greg’s Wild Swim was birthed during lockdown when he saw the positive effects that wild swimming had on Nimmo and wanted to join her. Hemphill says the experience was “life-changing”.

“It changes so many different things,” he said. “It changes your outlook, your attitude toward mental health, your attitude toward your physical being and your happiness.

"All of these things have come from this weird thing of immersing yourself in cold water for three minutes! We wanted to be along for the ride and meet people and find out why they were doing it.

"There were myriad reasons – grief, mental health, inflammation, hip operations. Every person had a different reason for doing it and we loved hearing their stories.”

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Alongside his work on screen, Hemphill launched a whisky brand in 2021 with his friend and Still Game co-star Ford Kiernan (above), aptly named “Jack and Victor” after the iconic protagonists, but he said the show will not be returning.

Hemphill said: “The show is finished. We would love to do it again but there is no way we would do it again without a solid story or reason to do it again.

"The TV show came to such a beautiful ending that you wouldn’t want to disturb that or ask too much of the audience to come back to the well one more time.

“So in terms of those characters you are always looking for new ways to have fun with them and the whisky is that.”

To celebrate 20 years of Still Game and the launch of the whisky, Hemphill and Kiernan embarked on a nationwide tour of Co-op supermarkets and had meet and greets with fans.

Hemphill said this was special for the pair as it reinforced the legacy that their sitcom still holds.

“It never ceases to amaze me how people took these characters to their bosom,” he said. “You wonder at what point will the foot come off the gas but we went to that Co-op tour and the love still seems strong,

“Actors are insecure so you never know what reception you’re going to get but people seem to have a lot of love for it and we certainly have a lot of love for it.

“Building up an audience over the years gives you a responsibility when you are creating anything going forward to give it the same love and attention that you gave that thing because you saw what it meant to people when you did that.”

Dinosaur will premiere on BBC Three on Tuesday at 9pm