In Brief

Cold Feet returns: What has changed since 2003?

'Warm, witty and poignant' new series sees couples tackling mid-life crises and troubled teens

Cold Feet, the hit ITV comedy-drama about the joys and pitfalls of love and relationships at the turn of the millennium, returned to our screens this week – so what has changed?

The show, which ran for five series from 1998 to 2003 and gathered ten million viewers, explored the complicated love lives of three middle-class couples in Manchester. The central characters were attractive and successful, but also had to deal with serious issues ranging from infidelity, infertility and abortion to alcoholism, divorce and the death of a partner.

The key characters were Adam Williams and Rachel Bradley (James Nesbitt and Helen Baxendale), a new couple followed from their early dating days through marriage, the birth of a child and Rachel's tragic death. Their story was interwoven with that of their friends Pete and Jenny Gifford (John Thomson and Fay Ripley) and Karen and David Marsden (Hermione Norris and Robert Bathurst).

It has been 13 years since the couples last appeared on our screens and a lot has changed since then.

Life without Rachel 

The show ended in 2003 with the tragic death of Rachel in the penultimate episode. She was killed in a car crash while on the phone to Adam, discussing their new flat. Her death left Adam a single father to their baby son Matthew. A final scene showed a grieving Adam leaving behind the house he shared with Rachel and saying goodbye to Manchester for a new life elsewhere. Now Adam is back in Manchester with new plans.

Mid-life crises

Since the show was last on air, the key characters have aged from thirtysomethings to fiftysomethings. With mid-life, comes mid-life crises. The show sees Adam set to marry again, to Angela (Karen David), a woman he met while working in Singapore who is 18 years younger. Is this why Adam's hair looks suspiciously thicker? Meanwhile Pete's mid-life crisis sees him depressed and down on his luck. He has lost his old job and is forced to work two jobs as a taxi driver and a care worker for old people. The taxi job is cause for a series of gags in the first episode as Adam jumps into Pete's cab, not realising his old friend is the driver. 

Teenagers

When we left the couples they were dealing with pesky but adorable babies and toddlers, but as time has marched on, those children have grown into teenagers, adding a multi-generational element to the story. The first episode establishes that Adam will have issues dealing with his troubled son Matthew, played by Cel Spellman. Meanwhile, Pete's wife Jenny was pregnant back in 2003 and they are now bringing up teenage daughter Chloe – but they still haven't told her that Pete is not her father.

Sobriety

Following David and Karen's divorce, David remarried, and Karen, who is now single, sobered up. She is now bringing up their two daughters Ellie and Olivia (Ella Hunt and Daisy Edgar-Jones), while their son Josh is away on his gap year. But despite her past troubles, Karen seems to have emerged happier than she has ever been. 

Troubled marriages, new romance 

Meanwhile, David's new marriage to his former divorce lawyer, the tense and prickly Robyn (Lucy Robinson), is not turning out well, and could be heading for the rocks. And while Adam is set to marry Angela, could there be second thoughts as he hits it off with his sparky new landlady, Tina (Leanne Best), at his Manchester flat?

A welcome return

Cold Feet's comeback has been greeted warmly by both critics and viewers. On Twitter, fans heaped praise on the show, welcoming back their old favourites like long-lost friends and complimenting them for ageing well.

While many recent TV comebacks have received mixed reviews, Cold Feet has not suffered this fate. The difference with Cold Feet, suggests Jordan Paramor on Digital Spy, is that instead of completely recasting the show with lookalikes, the main cast reprise their roles. The original writer Mike Bullen has also penned the script.

Yes, it was "witty, well-made drama", agreed Michael Hogan in the Daily Telegraph. Not as fresh or original as it once was, perhaps, but still "compelling and warm" because "it wasn't purely wallowing in nostalgia or trading on past glories", but offers "something more sobering and poignant".

Sam Wollaston in The Guardian agreed it was an "unexpectedly pleasant reunion". It's a relief, he says, that "something that could have been a really bad idea isn't".

The new series of Cold Feet airs on ITV on Mondays at 9pm.

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