Scots comedy duo Bridge and Allen could be the new Jack and Victor

Just a matter of weeks ago, we waved an emotional farewell to the funniest pensioners in Scotland and many wondered when we would see a comedy successor to Still Game.

Well, that question could have been answered by the most gormless pensioners in Scotland – Bridge and Allen.

The veteran folk duo are the alter egos of the much younger comedy cabaret act the Cuban Brothers – Mike Keat and Archie Easton – and form a key part of a new wave of Scots comedy debuting on iPlayer next week.

The duo play a long-forgotten ­traditional music act who are ­rediscovered when a song is used in an Outlander-style TV show, prompting a comeback tour –and they’ve enlisted friends including KT Tunstall to help.

The mini-series launches next week and writer Mike – who has also had acting roles in the likes of hit film Sunshine on Leith – said he’d love to follow in the footsteps of BBC Scotland successes like Still Game.

He said: “I’ve been thinking of doing a Scottish character for a while and if you’re of a certain vintage you will remember those types of duos and ­musicians seen in boozers and lounge bars across Scotland and I had a bit of an obsession with Tam Weir.

Greg Hemphill (R) and Ford Kiernan in Still Game

“We shot a pilot when we were on tour as the Cubans in the Highlands and islands about a year ago and I decided to amuse myself by doing the character and we did a wee bit of a love letter to Scotland, rolling through the heather with me doing made up history of places.

“I’d get done up as Alan Allen and go out and about in the wee towns pretending everybody knew me.

“The mental thing is people would respond – it’s amazing what a wee tartan suit and a bunnet and bifocals can do for you.

“I was out and about and speaking to everyone, and people are saying, ‘How are you doing pal, not seen you for a long time,’ and that was f*****g mental.

“But I knew there was something in the character that was warm and nice and people wanted to talk to me, so that was job done as far as that side of it goes.“

The hunt is on for new comedy gems in Scotland, and Bridge and Allen is one of four new iPlayer comedies giving new concepts a trial run with three mini-episodes each.

They include Scot Squad spin-off The Chief Does Edinburgh, with Jack Docherty’s daft top cop striking out on his own, The Farm, which sees Chris Forbes and Jim Smith’s agrarian ­mockumentary get new episodes, while cult writer Chris McQueer brings his short stories book Hings to life.

Mike is hoping he gets to wear the cheap tartan suit and dodgy wig for an even bigger series. He said: “Still Game was great and Ford and Greg, these guys are ­brilliant. These guys are legends, man.

“Who knows, touch wood, I’ve always wanted to work with the BBC in some capacity and hopefully, fingers crossed, people will like it and we get to do more.

“It’s a real pleasure and it is exciting. BBC Scotland is a great platform and it’s quality broadcasting.

“I’d love to get a full long form show, it would be brilliant – that’s not for me to decide but it would be fantastic.

“I’ve certainly got enough bits and pieces in there to get it written.”

Mike and Archie have been performing and break dancing as the Cuban Brothers for more than 20 years – aided by recruits Kengo Oshima and Domenico – as tanned cabaret lounge lizard
club hosts.

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They’ve toured the world many times over – and made many celebrity pals at gigs, which came in handy for the show.

Mike said: “People thought it’d be a great idea to create a conceit of these guys who had had some success, 40 years ago, and now have the chance to have a career back, I wanted to do something that was warm and funny and that people would recognise that kind of vibe from growing up.

“I do lots of different characters and some are rude and adult-oriented, and I wanted to do something that was nicely spirited. There’s a lot of comedy that’s been mean-spirited, the joke is on someone else but we always try to make the joke on me.

“Everyone we approached agreed to be in the show, and we’re lucky – but it’s people who think you’re all right and a good laugh and they can trust you that we are never going to make an a*** out of anybody other than myself.

“KT Tunstall, I’ve known for about 20 years. We played together in St Andrews. Before she had a record out, she was playing – no word of a lie – jazz flute in this band.


“I heard her sing and she was really good and told her after, ‘You’re playing is great, your fingering is rapid and you’ve got a great voice.’ We became pals and lo and behold, a few years later she is on Jools Holland and the rest in history.

“Mel C is the same. We’ve been mates for a while and we met while performing at a similar thing in Maldives, she is a really lovely girl.

“The Proclaimers are heroes of mine, they are Hibees, they’re from Auchtermuchty but born in Leith, as I am, and I got to play a part in Sunshine on Leith, and I got a drink with them at the premiere and they praised me heavily, and I was really chuffed with that.”

Mike said the hardest thing about playing his gormless alter-ego Alan Allen was trying to sing as poorly as he is supposed to but admitted it was fun getting into his new character.

Aged 42, and based in Kent with his wife and three ­daughters, Mike also loved the chance to return to
Scotland for the show.

He said: “I do the Cubans and I have other characters like a Dutch MMA fighter but it’s nice to do something that is Scottish. I’m a proud Scotsman and hopefully it might strike a chord – it’s nice to be able to do something where I am from.”

● Bridge and Allen and the other new BBC Scotland comedy shorts will be on BBC iPlayer from 10.30pm on Thursday, May 9.


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