GAVIN Mitchell can’t quite believe his Bogart is back again, called into play with another revival of stage play Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut.

But that’s not to say the Still Game star – he played barman Boaby in the classic comedy – is in any way jaded at the notion of returning to the North African bar which the Oran Mor stage has become.

On the contrary, Mitchell made the cut-down comedy version of the Bogart-Bergman cult film a priority. “I turned down four offers to appear in this,” he says with conviction in his voice. “And some of them were telly.”

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What’s the enduring appeal of the play, which has run across Scotland, at the Fringe and played in Paris, the Bahamas and London? “I think it’s great cut-down version of the film itself,” he explains. “It has a timelessness, with all the romance, comedy and politics, with the theme of refugees. It’s also about self-sacrifice and big choices.”

Was there a danger in making fun of the 1942 classic it would be laughed at rather than with? “There was,” he admits. “It’s a fine line when you play around with the family jewels but we feel this is a homage. What we’ve done is to play the straight stuff straight and keep the laughs separate.”

He adds; “What’s really funny is having three ‘idiots’ on stage trying to perform the entire Casablanca story in an hour, with all the well-rehearsed anarchy and chaos this involves. It’s a bit of the Marx Brothers approach.”

There is a new Marx Brother on stage this time around. Jimmy Chisholm is being held captive by River City commitments, which has opened the door to Kevin Lennon. Mitchell grins as he says he already hates the new man. “He’s a brilliant actor and he learned the dance steps in a morning. I was ready to break his legs because it took me about three weeks. And even now after all this time I still get it wrong.”

He adds; “What’s also good about Kevin’s arrival is it makes us (he and Clare Waugh) get on our toes. It keeps everything fresh.”

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Mitchell admits playing Bogart isn’t easy. “He’s a Hollywood legend. And the thing about him was he didn’t actually do a lot. The challenge was to take the essence of what he did and heighten it for the stage.”

The general belief is that Glasgow-born actor was earmarked for the role on the basis he could offer up a great Bogie impersonation, which he does. But the reality is Mitchell had never impersonated Bogart in his life. “Producer/writer Morag Fullerton had seen me do a Liza Minnelli impersonation however,” he says, grinning. “She reckoned if I could do a passable Liza then a Bogie was well within my grasp.”

Mitchell was seen by most of Scotland recently when he appeared in the final episode of Still Game as Boaby the Barman. The actor admits he was in tears when filming the pathos-filled final moments, with Jack and Victor and friends all passed on. “Even though I knew for a year before how it would end when the moment came to say the last words in the last series of a great sitcom, when my Boaby appeared for the last time, it was really emotional.

“I found myself crying without realising it, as were the director and crew.”

Yet, Boaby will live on – at the SEC Hydro stage. The Still Game live show will take place at the end of the year, and already 16 nights have been sold out. “That finale will be a night for lots of Kleenex,” says Mitchell. “The love in that room will be incredible.”

Gavin Mitchell is a more reflective figure these days, an actor who has re-evaluated his life and his priorities after bouts of depression.

It’s highlighted by the fact he won’t be returning to panto this year, despite a successful stint last year at the Clyde Auditorium where he played an Ugly.

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“It’s not all about career. It’s not about money. It’s about people. And I want to use spare time to highlight education for mental health then that’s where I want to be.”

Mitchell has a major reason to be extra happy these days; a rescue mongrel with a fascinating back story.

“I didn’t know this but he was one of four dogs rescued from Spain,” he says.

“And the woman who brought them over called the four Jack, Victor, Isa and Boaby.

And the one that I happened to pick and fall in love with.”He grins; “I can just see me in the park calling out ‘Boaby! Boaby!’ How funny will that be.”

Casablanca, The Gin Joint Cut, Oran Mor, Glasgow, until Saturday.