By Brian Beacom

THERE is an added delight in creating TV sketch characters who go on to become cults says writer/performer Robert Florence.

It saves on Germolene. It means creators of hits such as Burnistoun don’t have to end up applying crème to skint knees after crawling after London TV controllers.

Robert Florence and Iain Connell are back with a new Burnistoun special this week Burnistoun goes to work, screened only on BBC Scotland.

But Robert, who grew up in Balornock, maintains if network bosses aren’t interested in the lives of the characters in their fictitious Scottish town, no matter.

“I think we’ve always loved sketch shows,” he says. “And thankfully, there is an appetite for sketch comedy in Scotland.

“I think there is an appetite Down South as well, although not with the TV commissioners. So there is no point trying to get a sketch show on down there.”

Robert isn’t disappointed if England seems far less interested.

“No, I’m not really. I remember when I was younger we had more of a concern about our stuff travelling.

“However, it’s not about getting your material onto the network these days. It’s more about getting on Netflix.

“All of Burnistoun is on Netflix right now and the reason we’ve been able to sell out the likes of the Edinburgh Fringe is because the audience has seen us on this and social media such as Facebook.”

He adds; “The world has changed. You put a show out on the net and it can go straight to the people.”

Florence and Connell, who are both 39, met as teenagers at Springburn youth theatre group Toonspeak and discovered a shared love for comedy.

As well as creating their own sketch series’ they have written for the likes of Chewin’ the Fat and came up with their own short-lived sitcoms Legit and Empty.

But they do appreciate the fact BBC Scotland gives them a platform to bounce from. Last year, the pair produced a Festive Burnistoun special for BBC Scotland and this year the pair have come up with a new themed show.

Burnistoun Goes To Work sees much of the action take place in the office.

“Yes, we did a special last year where we concentrated on a night out, so we thought we would theme it again.

“It gives us boundaries to work with, and it didn’t limit us too much because most comedies are set in the workplace.

“And if we come back with another special we can continue to theme it.”

This year, the show, which features regular characters such as the Quality Polis and Jolly Boy John, is a little more traditional.

“We’ve nudged the tone of the show, just to keep it fresh. And we are trying to creep closer to the Hogmanay slot.”

He adds, laughing; “We’re three days away, within touching distance. But the telling thing will be if we broadcast on December 27, and we end up going backwards.”

That’s unlikely to happen. The appetite for the cult show is greater than the Christmas hunger for turkey.

How do they write now after nine years together?

“It’s weird,” says Robert. “With a sketch show we do a lot separately. Sometimes you come up with an idea when you’re in your bed, or in the bath.

“But much as we like each other, we’re not going to take a bath together to be able to write.

“It’s more a case of pulling the fragments together over a long period before we have a good get together over lunch in the town.”

The writer has loved developing Burnistoun for the stage.

“The great thing about the live show is if it doesn’t work you can try and come up with things on the spot to try and make a sketch work, or at least plead for mercy.

“You can try and say your family is in and go for the sympathy laughs.

“But telly is so different. As writers and performers we used to like the audience screenings where we added the laughter track. We had that wee period whereby the audience could laugh, or not, and we knew what to cut or change.

“However, added laughter in TV comedy has gone out of vogue. And I really miss this safety net.”

He adds, grinning; “But I have to say I don’t miss the stoney silences where you have to pretend that really, you were going for silence all along.

“And the sketch was all about challenging people’s perceptions of what comedy really is.”

Next year the pair will tour with Uncles, which is almost stand-up.

“The reason we called it Uncles is because you sort of know everything about your da’, but you don’t know everything about your uncle.

“Uncles are more fun. You can do more with an uncle. Uncles have a license to be bad.”

Would Florence and Connell ever consider starring in panto? They would make a great pair of Uglies.

“To be honest, I do love panto and we’ve actually thought about writing our own panto. That’s something we may get around to doing.”

He adds, grinning; “But as for appearing in a panto, with all those matinees, it all sounds a bit too much like hard work for me and Iain.

“And how could we be working over Christmas? We’ve got too many computer games to play.”

And will this year’s Burnistoun TV special hit the mark. Robert laughs as he reflects on his own show.

“There’s a bit of time passed since we filmed it so I can’t remember if it will please people or do their box in.

“And it comes out between Christmas and New Year, so hopefully the audience’s hangovers will have cleared because there’s a lot of shouting in it.”

• Burnistoun Goes To Work, also stars Louise Stewart, Gerry McLaughlin, Kirsty Strain and Paul Morris. BBC 1 Scotland, 10.50pm.