Three very different couples experience their relationship ups and downs together, as well as commiseration about the challenges of changing and aging (including friendship, work, and health concerns). It’s a drama, but many parts of it are as (unintentionally?) funny as real life can be sometimes. The three primary couples are Adam and Rachel, who fall in love in the beginning of the series, get married, and eventually experience great tragedy; Pete and Jenny, who struggle in the first season to conceive and who struggle in later seasons to stay married; and David and Karen, an upwardly mobile couple with one son (and later twin daughters), who also experience problems and infidelities in their marriage.
The series takes place in Manchester and is noted for its use of fantasy and flashbacks to augment the storylines. The pace of coupling, de-coupling, and re-coupling is such that the viewer almost needs to make a flowchart to follow who is currently in a relationship with who (particularly in later seasons, when new characters are introduced and try to fit in among the historical remains of the primary couples’ relationships). From the very first pilot episode the show has offered offbeat moments of comedy: consider Adam winning Rachel back while serenading her in the nude, with a rose tucked jauntily in an uncomfortable place.
Cold Feet premiered to rather lackluster reviews and viewership, but eventually became hugely popular and topped out at nearly ten million viewers per episode in its third and later seasons. The fact that three more series were commissioned to air in 2017, 2018, and 2019 (although the previous series had ended way back in 2003) is testament to its staying power.
The program is not as lighthearted as its American counterpart, the sitcom Friends, but its mix of dramatic moments, fantasy elements, and dark comedy make it addictive watching.
Episodes and Seasons: Cold Feet first aired in 1997; eventually it would go on to span seven series and forty-eight episodes. The first five series ran from 1997 to 2003; then the show overcame a thirteen-year gap and aired three new series in 2016, 2017, and 2019. Total run time, including a pilot episode, the slightly truncated fifth season, and the 2016-2019 reboots, comes in around forty-four hours.
Will there be a tenth season? Nobody knows for sure. If there is, it will only happen after another long hiatus.
Primary Stars: Helen Baxendale as Rachel Bradley, James Nesbitt as Adam Williams, Fay Ripley as Jenny Gifford, John Thomson as Pete Gifford, (the great and underrated) Hermione Norris as Karen Marsden, Robert Bathurst as David Marsden.
Creator and Primary Writers: The series was created and primarily written by Mike Bullen.
First Aired On: ITV.
Streams On: Amazon Prime and BritBox
Trivia: Helen Baxendale also starred in several episodes of the American sitcom Friends, but her storyline as Ross Geller’s wife (and then ex-wife) was cut short due to her first pregnancy.
The show was originally meant to be set in north London, but the setting was changed to Manchester (largely because it was cheaper to film there).
Over the years the show collected many awards, including a BAFTA for Best Drama Series and the British Comedy Award’s Best TV Comedy Drama prize.
All out of Cold Feet Episodes? Watch these next, luv:
Although much lighter in tone, the Britcom Coupling, which also featured the dating exploits of six friends and aired around the same early 2000s time period, might also appeal to fans of Cold Feet. Another comedy/drama that mixes relationship humor with nontraditional family groups and lives is the series Stella, written by and starring Ruth Jones (who also played one of the main roles in the relationship sitcom Gavin & Stacey).
Each of the primary stars of this program have starred in a wide variety of other British TV classics, including Helen Baxendale in the crime drama An Unsuitable Job for a Woman; James Nesbitt in the police drama Murphy’s Law; Hermione Norris in MI-5; and Robert Bathurst in the comedy Toast of London and Downton Abbey.