ROBERT Florence isn’t afraid to go against the grain. From his early days writing sketches for Chewin’ The Fat and The Karen Dunbar Show, through comedy series Legit, Empty and VideoGaiden, then as co-creator of Burnistoun, which brought us gems such as the Quality Polis, Jolly Boy John and Biscuity Boyle, there is a boldness as distinct as a fingerprint.

The Glasgow-born comedian and writer returns to our screens on Friday hosting a new six-part series, The State Of It. Packed with lampooning sketches, satirical animation and topical observation, the show aired as a pilot on BBC Two Scotland last December and was then commissioned as a full series for the new BBC Scotland channel.

The State Of It provides a leftfield look at the wider world, covering weighty topics such as democracy, identity and the environment. “We wanted a show that was fast-paced and unpredictable,” says Florence. “The idea is to get new talent out there front and centre.”

There’s a raft of rising stars from the Scottish comedy scene – Susan Riddell, Nathan Byrne, Rachel Jackson and Laura Lovemore, to name but a few among the regular cast – as well as beatboxer and hip-hop artist Bigg Taj.

With Scot Squad creator Joe Hullait as series producer and Iain Davidson of The Comedy Unit in the director’s chair, it comes with an impressive pedigree. Does that translate to the screen? Florence certainly believes so (and having had a sneak peek of the first episode, I’m inclined to agree).

The State Of It has become a passion project for Florence. When we meet, he exudes an infectious enthusiasm, although not without some light trepidation about how it will be received by the wider viewing public.

“We had a lot of fun with it,” he says. “The BBC gave us a lot of free rein to try stuff. Hopefully the punters will like it. It is always a difficult thing when you are launching a new show because you don’t want to talk it up too much.”

The opening episode centres on technology, showcasing some interesting and innovative (read: jaw-droppingly bonkers) ideas that include a new twist on sperm donation, genetic engineering by post and a conscience-salving music streaming service.

Yet, among the laughs, The State Of It poses a thorny question: with the many technological advances in modern life, have we been saved or enslaved? I’m curious where Florence stands on the matter. His face grows serious, thinking carefully before answering. “I genuinely think that, ultimately, humanity is going to face a huge dilemma when we aren’t necessary anymore within industry,” he muses.

“We have no concept at the moment what that is going to look like. But you can already see the rumblings: ‘How do we keep people happy and occupied when they can’t work anymore?’”

Florence trails off and grins. “It is a satirical comedy show. Some things we need to touch lightly on without getting opinionated or drilling too far down.”

In one segment, Florence describes himself as “an old guy, a vintage player”. It strikes a chord, perhaps because he’s 42 (as am I) and being Gen X – those born between the mid 1960s and the early 1980s – it sometimes feels like we occupy a curious hinterland, quietly sandwiched between the Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) and Millennials (early-1980s to 1996).

Florence nods when I mention it. “It is interesting right now because we have all the ‘OK boomer’ stuff happening,” he says. “The Millennials and the Boomers are going at each other big time and we Gen Xers are in the middle.

“We are seeing a lot of cultural and societal progress, but I think there is a very confused response and reaction to it. People are struggling with the changes we are going through on all sides. In the 1990s, we had a lot of societal and cultural progress as well. I think – this may be pure Gen X bull**** I’m about to hit you with – we almost had a more compassionate and broader view of it all. Probably, a more cynical view too.

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“Right now, we’re having that thing where everything stretches out to extremes before it steadies again. Everything is in flux. It is interesting as both a Gen Xer and a comedian to be doing a show at a time like this.”

Florence breaks off laughing. “What a satirical show should be doing is poking holes in everything,” he says. “You want to attack everybody. But I think the Gen Xer attitude is that you have to be compassionate as well when you’re doing it.

“I don’t genuinely believe that the people who currently exist at extremes even necessarily completely believe what they are saying – or won’t change their mind in five or six years. Gen Xers were seen as slackers. We are not slackers. We just didn’t always completely make up our minds and decide we were absolutely right about it all. Gen Xers realised everything was a bit more textured and people are ultimately quite damaged and trying to struggle through in their own way.”

His joy at working alongside new comic talent is a theme that he returns to throughout our conversation. “I’m a big fan of collaboration,” says Florence. “That is what’s great about the new BBC Scotland channel. I think it will usher in a better spirit of collaboration here in Scotland.

“There was a period where everybody was so competitive for the few slots available that nobody was wanting to collaborate.

“The new channel is going to offer so many opportunities. I don’t want to sound like an absolute company man here, but I genuinely think it is the most exciting thing to happen to the industry up here, without a doubt.”

He isn’t short on pitches himself. “I’m always at their door. I would love to do a big black comedy sci-fi. Or a horror. I want to do more directing. When you don’t work with new people or recognise the changes happening around you, that is when you go stale and stagnate.”

Florence moved from Glasgow to Helensburgh a few years ago. He lives with his partner, the fashion designer Jenn Coyle. The couple bought a Victorian house with views over the Clyde and it has provided a renewed vigour in his creativity.

“I like writing even when I am not writing for work,” he says. “I write in my spare time. Being able to see the water from the window definitely alters what I write as well. It has helped me a lot living there and being able to see the water. I love spending time with my kids. We have twin daughters coming soon and are getting prepped for that. I’m really enjoying family life.”

The move has broadened his horizons in other ways too. “I am a Glasgow boy and when we were filming the last series of VideoGaiden at the BBC’s River City studios, that was the first time I had ever been to Dumbarton. I was 37.

“After we moved to Helensburgh, I started exploring Argyll and Bute a wee bit. Places nearby like Cardross and the old, ruined pier at Craigendoran. Then further round towards Cove and Kilcreggan. It is beautiful and I thought: ‘I want to shoot stuff here.’

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“I would love to start making things in Argyll and Bute and further north too. I have maybe done my city stuff now. I want to do my country stuff. It’s like Justin Timberlake when he did his Man of the Woods album. This is my Man of the Woods phase.”

Such as owning chickens? “We only have two chickens now,” he laments. “Three of them were eaten by the fox. We had a very idyllic, Instagram-style set up for a wee while where the five chickens were roaming about.

“They would wander into the kitchen. You would be standing there, and a wee chicken would walk in. They are beautiful animals. Then the reaper came for them. And darkness descended.”

With a secure coop swiftly fashioned, all is well again. “We get two eggs every morning which is great. They are lovely wee pets as well. We get deer in the garden too. Which is nice until you are trying to grow anything. Just like Justin Timberlake – he struggled with that as well.

“We fancy getting a goat. They cut the grass. You do feel like you are living in the country but then are only half an hour from the city on the train. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Family life is the centre of his universe. He and Coyle already have a two-year-old daughter, Waverley, and Florence has a 12-year-old daughter, Hope, from a previous relationship. When we speak, Coyle is heavily pregnant with twin girls – the babies are due in December.

His face lights up when he talks about his growing brood. “I don’t think we are done yet either,” says Florence. “We had to get a seven-seater car to fit the twins in. Although, I’m not the one having to do all the hard work. Jenn is amazing.”

Florence is the youngest of five children. He grew up in Balornock, north Glasgow, where his late father was a roofer and his late mother worked as a geriatric nurse. Many people labour under the misapprehension that they are funny; Florence is that rare beast who genuinely is.

Humour is a gift he tapped into from a young age. “It’s such a cliche but it was an absolute survival thing when I was a wee guy. I wasn’t so much the class clown – I was a good boy at school – but I was always trying to make people laugh.

“That made my life so much easier. Even some of the hardest guys at school would be like: ‘Aye, Rab’s alright’. It is a pure cliche, but I think that does hone your patter skills to an extent.”

Watching TV with his parents helped to further nurture that. “My da was massively into comedy. I would watch Spike Milligan with him. That was our thing. My ma never really got Spike Milligan – she loved Cheers. We would all watch that together.”

Florence’s earliest aspiration was to be a writer. “I was a big Stephen King fan. I wrote a letter to him when I was 11 or 12. I put on the envelope: ‘Stephen King, Bangor, Maine, America’. But it reached him. I got a postcard back which said: ‘Keep writing.’”

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He went through a tough time in his teens. “I started having seizures and hallucinogenic episodes,” says Florence. “When I was 13 or 14, I had to go for a lot of brain scans. It was thought I had a brain tumour for a while. Then it was thought I had epilepsy but there were no signs for that.

“I was on medication through my teenage years to try and control it. A doctor at Yorkhill Hospital said that it might go away once I went through puberty. It was a horrible, nightmarish period of seeing monsters. But it passed. It was tough, but I had my family – my ma and da – looking after me, so I look back on that part almost fondly.”

His parents have both passed away in recent years. “My da died and then my ma died soon afterwards. My da was 82 when he died, he had a good innings and no complaints, and he went out like an absolute trooper. He died five or six years ago. My ma died a couple of years later.

“We’re not really sure what happened with my ma, possibly dementia with Lewy bodies. That was a horrible couple of years with her starting to forget things, then she began hallucinating and not remembering who I was. It was a dark time where my whole universe collapsed.”

It’s arguably why raising his own family is such an important anchor. “I met Jenn after that period, so they never knew her. They got to meet my oldest daughter Hope, but not my youngest Waverley. That’s the one wee sad thing about having kids, that my ma and da aren’t around.”

He smiles and shakes his head as if to banish any lingering melancholy as we return to talking about his career. Florence is brimming with ideas. Although there isn’t good news for fans of Burnistoun, the sketch show he co-created with long-time collaborator Iain Connell a decade ago.

“There’s no plans to do any more Burnistoun at the minute,” he says. “We did a one-off episode for the new channel launch. That was such a lovely spot to be in and if we do another special, I don’t see how we could top that. I think we are quite happy to leave it be. But I will still be working with Iain.”

What he likes most about The State Of It, says Florence, is “the odd, strange wee bits that I don’t think you would get in other shows”. As the host, he’s a physical performer (“by the end of the series I was covered in bruises”) and enjoyed being able to present it in his own inimitable style.

“It is like the worst version of myself,” he clarifies. “But it was fun to be able to go for it. No matter what happens, I am really pleased with the show because I wanted to do something which felt like it has a bit of a different energy about it.”

Still Game drew to a close earlier this year, leaving some big shoes to fill. Is there anyone up to the challenge?

“I don’t think you will see anything like Still Game again,” he asserts. “Ford [Kiernan] and Greg [Hemphill] are, without a doubt, the best this country has ever seen. We have had some amazing people over the years, but I don’t think there is anybody that can touch Ford and Greg.”

Florence loves horror. Hemphill loves horror. Could there be scope for a collaboration? “I would love to work on something with Greg,” he says. “It is something I have never done properly – well, apart from fighting each other in the wrestling ring.

“I would love to direct Greg because he’s an amazing actor. Greg hasn’t done a huge amount of straight roles, but he absolutely would knock people’s socks off.”

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Projects in the pipeline include a film that Florence is developing with the producer Ross McKenzie. “It is a psychological thriller, more than a horror, but it definitely has Brian De Palma-esque slasher film elements to it,” he says.

“That is what I want to do. I want to direct. I want to make films. I want to make more things for the BBC. I want to cuddle my chickens and have all my weans around me.”

The State Of It begins on BBC Scotland, Friday, 10.30pm. Thanks to the Village Hotel Glasgow (