ICONIC Glasgow soap River City is celebrating 20 years with a special episode and an anniversary show.
The award-winning BBC Scotland drama will welcome familiar faces from the series alongside the current cast for a unique episode, which begins filming this week.
Written by Johnny McKnight, Bob O’Hara, played by Stephen Purdon since the show’s inception in 2002, and best mate Angus Lindsay (Scott Fletcher) will wake up in a parallel dimension where they come face-to-face with ghosts from Shieldinch’s past.
Iconic characters returning include Gina Rossi (Libby McArthur), Eileen Donachie (Deirdre Davis), Raymond Henderson (Paul Samson), Ewan Murdoch (Chris Brazier), Robbie Fraser (Gary Lamont), Gabriel Brodie (Garry Sweeney), Billy Kennedy (Alexander Morton) and many more.
Speaking of his excitement at filming the episode, Purdon said: “I’m so humbled this special River City anniversary episode is centred around Bob. He’s been a part of the show and my life for two decades now so it feels like the perfect scenario.
“The anniversary episode is full of twists and turns and Bob goes through a lot, with his best mate Angus by his side.
“At the heart of it all, it’s about family which is so important to Bob and, for me, this show has become my family over the years.
“Johnny McKnight has written the perfect episode which is a fitting tribute to River City and the fans are going to love it.
“They’ll have a wee lump in their throats watching it and, as well as some lovely emotional moments, there are plenty of laughs along the way and a few familiar faces from Shieldinch’s past.”
Writer McKnight said: “River City has been part of my life for the last 20 years, primarily as an avid viewer.
“To have now, 20 years on, been tasked to write the anniversary special is a privilege both as a writer and as a fan-boy.
“Hopefully taking a trip down memory lane brings the viewers as much joy as I had writing it.”
Series producer Martin McCardie added: “River City owes everything to its loyal fans – this episode is for them.
“And in producing it we pay homage to the cast, crew and supporting artists who have all contributed to a wonderful 20 years. Happy birthday River City!”
In addition to the episode, BBC Scotland will also air River City: 20 Year Celebration, an entertainment show hosted by actor and presenter Grant Stott.
In the hour-long show, the cast will join former stars to celebrate the show’s history, relive memorable moments and welcome some special guests and fans of the series.
The celebration show will air on BBC iPlayer on Saturday, September 24, and the anniversary episode will be available on Monday, September 26.
Both shows will also air on September 26 on BBC Scotland, with the episode at 10pm and the entertainment show following at 10.30pm.
Gavin Smith, BBC Scotland commissioning executive, added: “River City has been a much-loved stalwart of the BBC Scotland schedule for two decades now and this feel-good special episode full of fun and nostalgia is the perfect way to celebrate this landmark birthday.
“Coupled with a companion celebration show looking back at favourite characters and packed with entertainment – as well as a celebrity song – it’s going to be a great big birthday party for all the fans.”
Fans are also invited to vote for their favourite moments in categories such as ‘Best Villain’, ‘Best Tear-Jerker’ and ‘Best Romance’.
Speaking of his time on the show, Purdon added: “When I think about the fact I’ve been here for 20 years, it’s a wee bit overwhelming. It blows my mind actually. River City has been an education for me and I absolutely learnt my trade as an actor on the streets of Shieldinch.
“River City means a lot to me and our fans are incredible. I’m looking forward to celebrating the show’s very special big birthday with all of them.”
Voting closes at 5pm on September 2. Details can be found here.