THERE’S a little sigh of relief comes with Johnny Watson’s news that Only An Excuse?’s studs will once again rake down the shins of football with a vengeance.

Last year, the show lost it’s way. Too much of a focus on politics. Too bitsy. As a result, too few laughs.

This year, to save us from comedy tears, the team are going back to the beautiful game.

“Philip Difffer ([producer) has said the show should be much more about going back to its roots,” says the star of the show.

“ There might be the odd thing to touch on in politics but it’s more of a football-based comedy show.”

Have there been complaints about attempts to wander onto the park that is politics, resulting in bare feet being stung by the jaggy nettles of criticism?

“No, not really,” he says, not smiling at all.

“It’s more to do with the fact there is more to say about football this year. There are more interesting characters in the sense we can have a pop at them.

“The Commisioning Editor is keen on this, and it freshens it up.”

Johnny Watson sounds prosaic about the show he’s been lined up to plug.

But that’s perhaps down to the fact he’s been starring in the show, in theatre as well as television, since the days he had red hair.

So what is the fitba that’s commanding the attention?

“There’s the new man at Rangers,” he offers.

And he is?

“God,” says the Teddy Bears fan, now smiling.

Is it tricky to get the voice and mannerisms of Steven Gerard right?

“It was all right,” he says of recording. “People seem pleased with the result.”

What do you see in Gerard that screams out for impersonation.

“Victory! That’s what I see in him,” he yells, suddenly coming to life at the mention of the Saviour’s name.

“No, I think he conducts himself very well. But what I try and do is get the inflexions, right, the fact he always finished a sentence on an up note.”

Of course, the other half of the Old Firm are represented in the form of Brendan Rogers. “We’ve tried to do a new take on his persona.

“And we also have Jim Kerr back this year,” he says of the Simple Minds frontman.

“He’s celebrating the 25th anniversary of Nelson Mandela visiting Glasgow,.

Is there enough happening in Scottish football these days to hold the interest?

“Yes, I think there is. It’s a more competitive league. The gaps have narrowed.”

He adds; “But it doesn’t really matter. What really matters is if the gags are funny.”

Who else is featured? “Kim Jong-un makes an appearance.”

Not a football player. But no matter.

Who else? He’s not sure who made the final edit. The press officer prompts with a reminder that Martin O’Neill and Alex McLeish will feature.

“There is also a reflective look, a mini-documentary set in the says when Scottish football was maybe better than it is now. The Souness era.”

On the subject of Scottish football, is he positive about the future?

“I think Alex McLeish is doing a great job.” Mm.

What of his his own future? Hit sitcom Two Doors Down will be broadcast in January. “It’s the most watched comedy on BBC2 so hopefully that’s a sign it will be recommissioned.

“And I’ve a nice part in the new Steve Coogan series, with Alan Partridge coming back. I’ve always been an Alan Partridge fan.”

Meantime, the actor’s appearing in Cinderella at the Clyde Auditorium, alongside fellow Ugly Sister Gavin Mitchell and the Krankies.

Which may explain why he sounds as though he’s just played 90 minutes for Rangers.

Only An Excuse, BBC1 Scotland, Hogmanay, 11pm.