HE may be best known for playing a mischief-making pensioner but if there was ever a role that was made for Greg Hemphill, it is that of an embarrassing dad.

The Still Game star returns to our screens this weekend in a new BBC Three comedy, Dinosaur, where he takes on the mantle as the cringeworthy father of the show’s lead character, played by fellow Scots comedian Ashley Storrie.

“I have known Ash for years, but we don’t get a chance to work together that often,” says Hemphill. “She is a brilliant stand-up, podcaster and actor. She may be new to audiences, but she also proves the old adage that there is no such thing as an overnight success.

“She has been doing stuff for years and was ready for this. She was like a penguin in water - just smooth and away she went. And to be honest, an embarrassing dad is absolutely not a stretch for me. I have two sons and I also was like a penguin in water playing an embarrassing dad.”

The six-part series, co-created by Storrie and British-American writer Matilda Curtis, follows Nina, an autistic woman in her thirties, whose life is turned upside down when her sister unexpectedly announces she’s engaged. 

With the wedding only six weeks away and Nina (Storrie) tasked with being maid of honour, she finds herself embarking on a hilarious and heart-warming journey of self-discovery.

River City’s Sally Howitt plays opposite Hemphill as Nina’s mother, with Game of Thrones star Kate Dickie and Still Game alumnus Sanjeev Kohli also appearing in the show.

The stellar cast includes Kat Ronney (The Royal Mob), David Carlyle (It’s A Sin), Lorn Macdonald (Beats, The Lazarus Project, Bridgerton) and Danny Ashok (Strike, Roadkill, Capital).

Storrie’s real-life mum is the comedian, actor and author Janey Godley. Did knowing their mother-daughter relationship bring an added element of fun to Hemphill’s role?

“Yeah, absolutely,” he smiles. “Early on, I was like, ‘Is there anything I should do that will ring true?’ Ash said, ‘Just embarrass me.’ And I said, ‘I can do that. I have been doing that for 25 years. I was born to play that …’

“When I was told I was playing a father, at first, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m at that stage in my life …’ Then I was like, ‘Yeah, but I have been playing a grandfather for 20 years, so I’m actually getting younger.’ I’m like some sort of Scottish version of Benjamin Button.”

As the father of two sons, I’m curious how Hemphill’s style as a Gen X parent differs from his own upbringing, or perhaps even the approach of the younger generations coming up behind?

“I’m more interested in what makes it the same,” he says. “The pattern of repetition is that parents never give their kids credit for being smarter than them. They always say, ‘This is what you need to do …’ and ‘when you get to my age …’

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“We don’t acknowledge just how smart our kids are and the things that they are dealing with. And this generation is the first that has basically been walking about with a library in their pocket.

“The ‘dinosaurs’ of the show are probably the parents, more so in this show than any show, because the gap between those generations has sped up so dramatically. That is familiar in the dealings I have with my own children.

“I will be doing something on my phone, they will be looking at me and I can see them rolling their eyes. Then they grab the phone and go, ‘Dad, it is excruciating watching you do that.’ That was exactly the same as watching my dad trying to set the video back in 1984.”

His own sons are 18 and 22 now. “They both moved out last October,” laments Hemphill. “Me and my wife [actor Julie Wilson Nimmo], within the space of two weeks, became empty nesters. That was the biggest shock in the world.” 

Are the couple embracing having more time to themselves, or did it feel a bit discombobulating at first, rattling about the house, just the two of them?

“It was a complete discombobulation and it still is, six months later,” he says. “It reminded me of when my father retired. He said to me, ‘Greg, whenever you retire, make sure you have a plan.’ Because he didn’t have a plan and it hit him like his parachute hadn’t opened.

“Them moving out was the same because your function for the last 20 years is making the dinners, doing the laundry, making sure you are there when they come home. Then that just goes overnight.

“Years ago, we would be like, ‘Oh, we will go to Vienna, just the two of us, we’ll do this, we’ll do that …’ You have all these grand plans, but all you really want is for them to come back and hang out, so you can have dinner together.

“It is quite moving and emotional because you never imagine that you would struggle. That catches you off guard.”

Hemphill, 54, chuckles to lift the mood. We move on to chatting about work. He was a staple on our screens for two decades with Chewin’ The Fat and Still Game. Does being part of a show like Dinosaur feel a bit like passing the baton?

“I feel quite sanguine about this,” says Hemphill. “Because there is a thing that happens in comedy and it is a very natural process. It is a bit like the Serengeti, once you get to a certain age, the young should come along and basically devour you.

“That is what should happen. That is the natural order of things. Comedy ages. Everything ages. If we started Still Game tomorrow, it would be different from the Still Game that exists and that is a good thing. Our sensibilities change. What is acceptable changes.

“So, to be able to come onto this set and not get eaten, I’m one of the cool kids now. When you are in the bubble of a big TV show like Sally and I - she is in River City and I was in Still Game - you get very comfortable. It is nice to have a different work experience. I feel lucky to be cast in this.”

Something else he enjoyed about Dinosaur was being able to show off another side to Glasgow, away from the gritty scenes so often seen in crime dramas.

“Cities can get typecast too,” says Hemphill. “Glasgow probably has suffered from that more than most cities. For 20 or 30 years, I imagine the only films that sold were ones about drug addiction, whisky or golf. But those are the extremes.

“There are loads of neighbourhoods and people in between that are unexplored. I came to Glasgow in 1988 and I have lived in this quarter square mile [of the West End] for 35 years now. It’s home to me and it always will be. It is so lovely to see it on screen. Glasgow is a beautiful city.”

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It is five years since the final episode of Still Game aired and Hemphill has been far from idle. He has a role in the soon-to-be-released Man and Witch: The Dance of a Thousand Steps, billed as a “heartwarming homage to the lo-fi fantasy films of the 80s and a comic adventure”.

The project saw him reunited with Still Game director Michael Hines. “That has a sort of Princess Bride feel,” explains Hemphill. “I play an ogre in it. That was good fun. I didn’t have any lines. I was covered in a mask.”

He would love to do a second series of the BBC Scotland documentary Jules and Greg’s Wild Swim and has plenty of other irons in the fire. “I’m doing a lot of writing. I have written a play and I’m starting to put together a musical, which will be good fun. I’m trying new things.”

His long-term dream, though, is to get a self-penned horror film made. “About 15 years ago I wrote a horror script and we got close with it,” says Hemphill.

“There was a director interested and our agent called us up and said, ‘He has got two scripts and is going to decide over the weekend between your script and the other script.’ We were like, ‘Oh my God, it is going to get made …’

“The other script was Paddington. The director was Paul King. Our agent called us on the Monday and went, ‘He is going to do Paddington with Warner Brothers …’ and we were like, ‘Of course he is, why would he do our stupid Scottish horror movie …’

“Anyway, that script has been in my back pocket for 15 years,” he continues. “Sometimes they tell you that you’ve got to let it go, but one of the nice things about our line of work is you can be stubborn. At some point, I’m going to direct this thing and get it made.”

There is a twinkle in his eye. “You can put it in a drawer and let it get dusty, or you can keep updating it and keep the fire burning. I would love to direct a horror film in Scotland.”

Dinosaur begins on BBC Scotland, tomorrow (April 14), 10.30pm, with all episodes available on BBC iPlayer. You can also watch on BBC Three from April 16 and BBC One from April 19