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  pride of manchester - peter kay  
Peter Kay

"I might be collecting wheely bins in 12 months time but at least they'll be wheely bins outside back gates that I know, in a part of the country that I love. There's no place like home!" - Peter Kay

Peter Kay has gone from being a service station attendant in his hometown of Bolton, Greater Manchester, to being the country's favourite comedian - selling out massive venues like The Lowry and MEN Arena in the process on a year long sell-out tour.

His material has largely been drawn from his experiences working and living in Greater Manchester. Amongst many part-time jobs, his previous work expeience includes packing toilet rolls at the paper mill owned by Manchester City legend, Franny Lee. He worked at the Majestic petrol station in Bolton and then Booker Cash & Carry. He was sacked from Netto for calling his supervisor a fucking dyslexic bitch - although she couldn't spell it on the report she had to file to HR. He also suffered a similar fate at Take Two Video for putting an adult movie in a children's video case. He then got the boot from Bolton's Top Rank Bingo for putting the wrong washing fluid in the dishwasher. Somehow he found another job at the original Yates's Wine Lodge in Bolton and he also worked at The Blue Boar pub.

   

Manchester's Nynex Arena was Peter Kay's next stop. Not as a comedian though - not just yet - but as a steward. He also got a job in the ticket office at Bolton's Octagon Theatre before being sacked for telling Phil Middlemass (Des Barnes in Coronation Street) he couldn't come in wearing white jeans. He found alternative employment as an usher at a local cinema before it closed down.

He claims his first taste of TV fame came at the age of 8 during the Bolton marathon... he was in the background as Jimmy Saville ran down Fallen Ends. If you pause the video at the right moment on a recording of Telethon'90 at Liverpool's Albert Docks - he claims you can also see him in the background there too.

Peter Kay back at the MEN Arena in That Peter Kay Thing
   

As a student, Peter Kay transferred from Liverpool to Salford University to study a HND in Media Performance. With the confidence gained from his studies of Stand-Up Comedy, he decided to enter the 1997 'City Life North West Comedian Of The Year Competition'. Much to his amazement, he won - beating Johnny Vegas into second place. It was here that he became best friends with the host and previous winner, Dave Spikey.

He enjoyed a few cameo appearances on TV, including 'Let's Get Quizzical' (which he named) and the similar 'I Love the 1990's' programmes from BBC Manchester. He took over from Dennis Pennis on 'The Sunday Show' and also appeared in an episode of Coronation Street, buying fish from Fred Elliott. He teamed up with Dave Spikey and Neil Fitsmaurice to film 'Mad For the A6' for the 'Mad For It' TV series - which saw them travelling from Buxton to The Lake District and having fun - including dressing cows up in rain jackets.

   

Peter Kay in The Services

As well as touring the country performing Stand-Up, including a superb performance at The Royal Variety Show (he was as equally enjoyed by his rich Southern audience as his usual Northern fans). A cameo performance presenting 'The Big Breakfast' led to Channel 4 offering him the opportunity to make an episode of the 'Comedy Lab' series:

Teaming up with Dave Spikey, and heavily influenced by Victoria Wood, he produced 'The Services', a superb spoof documentary filmed at Bolton's M61 First Services in 1998. Channel 4 were that impressed, they offered him his own series.

   

'That Peter Kay Thing' was screened in 1999 and consisted of six hilarious episodes, all fimed in the same spoof fly on the wall documentary style of 'The Services'. He insisted it was filmed not in London but on location in Lancashire and Greater Manchester. Each episode looked at a different character in their everyday life (the local cabaret club, the bingo hall, the ice cream van, the MEN Arena, the road sweeper and the local rock-star-wannabe). It was obvious Peter's experience of dead-end jobs had been used massively.

It was around this time that Pride Of Manchester boldly claimed on these pages that Peter would become a household name like similar Mancunian comic legends Les Dawson, Mike Harding and Victoria Wood. The success of his next two projects certainly proved us right.

   

Whilst widely ignored by the rest of the country, 'The Services' and 'That Peter Kay Thing' had made the Bolton comedian a favourite in the north west and his stand-up tour packed venues around the region. He recorded the show (in colour) at Blackpool Tower's Circus in 2000 and released it on video and DVD as 'Peter Kay Live at the Top of the Tower' (NB, the circus is actually at the bottom of the tower).

The local success of the video ensured his catch phrases, 'Garlic!?! Bread!?!', 'Booked it, packed it, fucked off!' and 'do you want a brew?' suddenly became more and more used each day in offices, shops and bars around Greater Manchester - each time with people giving each other that 'I love Peter Kay too' nod.

Peter Kay Top of The Tower
   

In 2000, Peter Kay was invited to cameo in Jim Doyle's violent gangster film, 'Going Off Big Time'. Starring alongside Bury actor Bernard Hill and Neil Fitsmaurice, who he was later to collaborate with, he plays a comical prisoner called Flipper.

Away from working, Peter married Susan, his girlfriend for 8 years, in 2001. The wedding guest list read like a who's who of Manchester comedians. Many whom were to join him on his next adventure...

   

Peter Kay in The Services

Episode 1 of 'That Peter Kay Thing' was set in a working man's club in Bolton, and it was here that the inspiration came for Peter Kay's next TV series. Teaming up once more with Dave Spikey and scouse comedian Neil Fitzmaurice, they wrote 'Phoenix Nights' together in 2001 (originally titled 'Ukranian Nights' and set in a Ukranian club on Chorley Road in Bolton).

Peter Kay played the role of Brian Potter, the wheel-chair bound owner of the Phoenix Club, as well as various other parts including Max, one of the doormen, and Keith Lard, a fire safety warden who allegedly liked dogs 'a little too much'. The character of Keith had also earlier appeared in an episode of 'That Peter Kay Thing'.

   

Incidentally, the makers of the show agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to a certain Keith Laird - a real live fire safety officer in Bolton - as compensation for the distress he had been caused. They claimed the similarity in name and occupation was purely coincidental but this seemed to be contradictied by early interviews Peter had carried out when promoting the show.

The other characters in Phoenix Nights were all played by stand-up comedians from the Manchester scene, including co-writers Dave Spikey (as Jerry 'The Saint' St.Clair) and Neil Fitzmaurice (as DJ Ray Von) - who interestingly had to audition for their parts.

   

Archie Kelly (better known as Jackie 'Mr.Goodtime' Valencio) played Old Kenny, a compulsive liar, Steve Edge and Toby Foster play Les and Alan in Jerry's brilliantly named backing band, Les Alanos, Bernard Wrigley played Eric, the fruit machine seller, Daniel Kitson was Spencer, the cheesiest DJ you've ever heard, and Justin Moorhouse played Young Kenny, a less than clever Manchester City fan whose only lines in the whole series were edited out. Incidentally Justin is a big Manchester United fan.

Peter Kay was also able to offer a part in the series to his best friend, Patrick McGuinness. He plays the part of Paddy, Max's self-obsessed partner on the door.

Peter Kay as Brian Potter
   

With such a good cast and three superb script writers, it was no surprise that Phoenix Nights was a massive success. For the die-hard Peter Kay fans there was even some of the old catchphrases hidden in the script - including his most famous, 'Garlic? Bread?'

Many of the cast, including Dave Spikey (as Jerry St.Clair), Steve Edge and Toby Foster (as the hilarious Los Alanos), and The Rumbergers (the very old ball dancers) played a few gigs in Manchester, taking the Phoenix Club on the road. Despite the sell-out success, the owners of the characters (Phil McIntyre Productions? Channel 4? or even Peter Kay himself?) frowned upon the idea of the cast cashing in on the name and prevented further showings.

   

Peter Kay and Steve Coogan in 24 Hour Party People

Starring alongside Steve Coogan, Peter Kay played the part of Don Tonay in Michael Winterbottom's award-winning '24 Hour Party People' movie. The film, which chronciles the life of Manchester journalist and Factory records boss, Anthony H Wilson, is arguably the greatest music film ever made and also features many of the other stars of the Manchester comedy circuit.

Interestingly, Don Tonay is a cabaret club owner, although is not in a wheelchair. There's a superb scene in which Peter and Steve Coogan (who plays Anthony H Wilson) are caught in the back of a transit van with a couple of prostitutes. Hopefully Peter's mum hasn't seen it!

   

.In 2002, the second series of Phoenix Nights was delivered, providing more laughter to the living rooms of the UK. The original cast had reunited and there was cameo appearances from the likes of Jim Bowen and Smug Roberts. The series started where the last had left off - with the Phoenix Club burning down.

Brian gathers together all the regulars to rebuild the Phoenix. Jerry St.Clair is persuaded to give up his job as a singing sales announcer at ASDA ("Don't forget your black bin bags, no matter what your gender") and in the funnist episode of the lot, is forced to wear a big red berry outfit at a family day. Young Kenny also has his face painted as a tiger with permanent paint - a look he wears for the rest of the series! The DVD of the series was released in October 2003 and became the fastest selling TV DVD ever in the UK

Phoenix Nights 2
   

By now, Peter Kay had become a household name. He was also the new face of the John Smiths beer adverts, introducing a new catchphrase ('Ave it!'). His 2002 'My Mum Wants A Bungalow' tour sold out breaking all box office records. The demand for tickets even became a joke within his act - pointing at empty seats where late comers hadn't yet arrived, he'd quip "we could have got £600 between us on ebay for those!".

The tour was extended time and time again - making him a multi-millionaire and probably affording his Mum every bungalow in Bolton - and he capped it all off with a massive gig at the 18,000 seater MEN Arena (which sold out in minutes), proving he had come a long way since working there as a steward. One of his homecoming gigs at Bolton's Albert Halls was released on video and DVD in Nov 2003

   

Peter Kay Live at the Bolton Albert Halls

Peter also contributed to the script of what many argue to be one of the greatest TV comedy series ever. The superb 'Early Doors' (which has still gone widely unnoticed) featured The Royle Family's Craig Cash and was based in a Manchester pub.

The birth of Peter and Susan's first child in August 2003, may have given him more material, however it understandably delayed the filming of his new TV series. A spin off from Phoenix Nights, titled 'Max & Paddy (Road To Nowhere)', it follows the two comical bouncers around the UK in their camper van. Other members of the Phoenix Nights cast do not appear in the show. Expect to see it hit the screens in 2004.

   

Peter - who surprisingly is not a Bolton Wanderers fan - played in front of his largest audience yet in October 2003. Appearing at half-time with his nephew at the Manchester United v Fulham game in front of a record 67,727 Old Trafford crowd, he cracked jokes (including his famous Garlic? Bread?) and commentated whilst a talented Norwegian super kid impressed everybody with his ball juggling skills. As the Norwegian completed what seemed like his 1,000th 'keepy-uppy', Peter counted, "26...27..." before delighting everybody with a trademark "Ave it!" as the kid booted the ball into the air, catching it cleanly and balancing it on the back of his neck. Peter laughingly claimed "Brian Potter can do that too!"

Despite becoming Britain's favourite comedian and a multi-millionaire in the process, Peter Kay has kept to his roots and still lives in Bolton. He may have moved out of his mum's house (a brand new bungalow) but according to the man himself, he'll never leave the region...

"I love Bolton. I really, really love it. I love where I'm from... you could do a Woody Allen in Bolton, do 40 films and still find something new because there's something new in every house."

Buy the first series of Max and Paddy's Road To Nowhere (Released October 2005) on dvd
buy the dvd - Peter Kay - Driven to Distraction and the3 episodes of Coronation Street that he starred in
Own the Peter Kay Comic Relief music video featuring on the cd single Is This The Way To Amarillo? Released on March 14th 2005
Buy Peter Kay live in Bolton on DVD
buy Phoenix Nights Series 1 & 2 DVD box set for only £20.95
Buy the Ave It! T-shirt

Peter Kay Top of The Tower
Twenty Four Hour Party People the movie
Buy the Garlic Bread T-shirt
buy The Scripts of Phoenix Nights 1 & 2
Peter Kay stars in Going Off Big Time
click here to buy Peter Kay Live on CD
buy Dave Spikey live on DVD
Buy the Shabba T-shirt
click here for hotels available this weekend
Buy the Top Bombing T-shirt
click here to read our dave spikey interview
chat about Peter Kat at Manc Rant
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