BRUCE Morton says his latest screen role could have made him a killing.
The Scots comedian is the guest star in this week’s Still Game, which is set to be one of the series’ most talked-about episodes.
Bruce plays Craiglang’s new undertaker Mr Shearing whose arrival coincides with the untimely demise of one much-loved favourite.
When word of the death leaked, such was the interest that Bruce reckons his insider knowledge may have come in handy.
“I was being asked who had died by close friends, especially when for a week or two bookmakers were offering odds on it,” Bruce, a good friend of creators Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill, told iN10.
“I was under strict instructions to keep it zipped. I was tempted myself to put a bet on but I thought that would be really unethical.”
Bruce’s Still Game telly debut came about after he made an appearance in Still Game: Live 2, the second batch of sell-out shows at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.
The studio, as opposed to playing in front of live audiences which he’s more used to, was an eye-opening experience for Bruce.
And although he isn’t a trained actor, he hopes he fitted in well.
“It was fascinating to be on set and see how it all works. The scale of the operation was mind-blowing and it was great to see the fun everybody was having and the attention to detail.
“Ford and Greg must have felt I acquitted myself OK in the live run and asked me towards the end, saying they had an idea for a new character.
“I jumped at the chance and took my guidance from Ford and Greg who said they wanted this Lee Van Cleef character. Someone with a hint of darkness.
“I wouldn’t describe myself as an actor by any means, so I tried to keep it nice and simple.
“But then about half of the core crew on the show aren’t trained actors. They just have a comedy instinct and they know each other so well it’s almost like a family.
“It’s so well-written that you’d need to be doing it really badly to muck it up. If you just follow the direction and say the words in the right order, then it seemed to go all right.”
Bruce knows the other regulars like Paul Riley, Jane McCarry and Sanjeev Kohli well, and famously helped to bring Ford and Greg together in the first place. He knew Ford away back in the late ’80s when they worked together for a telecoms company and met Greg a few years later when he was part of a comedy sketch group.
“I was going out for a couple of beers with Ford one night and suggested we went along to see the group,” recalls Bruce.
“The three of us ended up back at Greg’s place with a carry-out and the two of them started bouncing ideas off one another.
“I can say with all honestly that I slid off of the chair and landed on the carpet laughing.
“None of us had any idea that moment was going to put the two of them on a career trajectory. They started writing the Chewin’ The Fat radio show that became the TV series and then the spin-off with Jack and Victor.
“I know there was someone at the BBC who, when they wanted to drop Chewin’ The Fat and embark on Still Game, said it was career suicide.
“I think Ford and Greg’s instincts were clearly correct.”
While the nation settles down on Thursday to find out who passes away, Bruce may not be among the viewing masses.
Partly because he’s not that keen on watching himself – and partly because he’s not had a TV since 2004.
“I will watch things on the computer but it means I am a lot more selective and will seek out something in particular, rather than channel-surfing,” adds Bruce.
“There are tons of great shows I’ve enjoyed. But there are thousands of programmes I’ve never seen in my life.”
Still Game, BBC1, Thursday 9.30pm.