Brian Beacom

ARE there any greater guarantees at Hogmanay?

Someone you know will slip on the ice, your auntie will have one sherry too many and slip on her tongue.

And Jonathan Watson will be slipping into outfits and voices that will take us chuckling into the bells.

This year Johnny and the Only An Excuse? team has come up with a new series of comedy targets.

Alongside Louise McCarthy, Ryan Fletcher and Moyo Akande, Johnny will be taking on (in a lampooning sense) a list of characters screaming to be satirised.

The likes of Conor McGregor, Alex Salmond, Rag’ n’ Bone Man, Nicola Sturgeon, Kim Jung-Un, Muriel Gray, Kenny Dalglish and Gordon Strachan are all given the OAE? treatment.

Johnny clearly still loves the challenge.

“We approach each year as a new experience and we try to keep it fresh,” he maintains.

“We thought Conor McGregor might be great to do because of the hype over his fight and we’ve had him comment on some of the big events of the year.

“As for Rag’n’Bone man, well we always have a musical piece and it usually works well. And we have him doing a selection of Scottish songs.”

Alex Salmond had to be featured given the former FM’s move to Russia Today.

“I’ve watched one of the trails to get a flavour for it,” he says.

Was Johnny surprised at Alex Salmond’s move onto RT?

“Not completely surprised.,” he offers.

“His move to showbiz followed the stint at the Edinburgh Festival.”

“But I thought it an odd thing to do.”

What does he think of politicians crossing over into the wild side that is showbiz life, whether Alex Salmond or Kezia Dugdale?

“Well, maybe it was easier for Alex Salmond to do, given he’s no longer an MP. But I think if you’re an elected member you have a duty to your constituency.”

He adds; “I like Kezia a lot. She did a good job with Scottish Labour but I suspect she’ll look back at her time in the Jungle with regret.”

Was there a temptation for Johnny to play Kezia?

“One of the females in the cast played her in one sketch, but I don’t know if it will make the final cut,” he says with a shrug.

Footballers feature of course. Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths and Brendan Rogers and the late Pedro Caixinha of Rangers.

“And there’s a new film out about Kenny Dalglish. He’s always good for a laugh.

But is there an added pressure on getting the big laughs, that comes with the show’s iconic status?

“I don’t think so. You just keep on going in the hope the show will be recommissioned.”

He offers a wry smile; “You know it’s a bit like a football manager’s job, that you will be sacked at some point.

“But you don’t think about it. You just get on and do your best.”

He adds; “In my career there have been a number of projects that have come to a halt.

“But that’s the nature of the business. Everything’s temporary.”

Johnny isn’t overly worried about career at this time.

He’s fresh from featuring in the Festive episode of Two Doors Down, the domestic sitcom that has become a network success.

A new series will be transmitted at the end of January.

However, Johnny admits filming Only An Excuse Year brought with it a little disappointment.

“We had this idea of me becoming Phil Oakey of the Human League, to tie in with their Edinburgh appearance,” he says, grinning.

“And I remembered taking him off years ago. I wondered if we still had the wig and asked the costume people but someone pointed out to me that Phil Oakey is now as bald as a coot.”

He adds, laughing; “The iconic hairstyle he once had is long gone.”

• Only An Excuse?, BBC1 Scotland, Hogmanay