Kay giving a comedy masterclass at the University of Salford in 2012
|Birth name||Peter John Kay|
2 July 1973 |
Farnworth, Lancashire, England, UK
|Medium||Stand-up, television, film|
|Spouse||Susan Kay (m. 2001)|
|Notable works and roles||Phoenix Nights (2001–2002)
Max & Paddy's Road to Nowhere (2004)
Peter John Kay (born 2 July 1973) is one of the world’s most successful comedians. His last stand-up comedy tour was officially inaugurated into the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful of all time, playing to over 1.2 million people. He has written, produced and acted in several award winning television and film projects. As well as authoring three books, the first of which ‘The Sound Of Laughter’ still remains the biggest selling British autobiography to date.
Peter Kay was born and brought up in Farnworth, Lancashire. He attended Mount St Joseph High School, leaving with one GCSE in art. He took several menial jobs, including working in a toilet roll factory, a Netto supermarket, a cash and carry and a bingo hall, which later inspired episodes for That Peter Kay Thing. He began a degree course at Liverpool University but dropped out because he was given an unconditional offer to attend a HND in media performance at the University of Salford. He then attended the University of Salford's school of media, music and performance where he studied for a Higher National Diploma in Media Performance, which he completed; this involved a stand-up course at which he excelled. His first stand-up was a competition The North West Comedian of the Year in Manchester hosted by later co-star and co-writer of Phoenix Nights, Dave Spikey. Kay was last on the bill and won the competition, beating Johnny Vegas. Kay has said that he sought a career in comedy. However Kay continued to work part-time as an usher at his local cinema in Bolton whilst performing stand-up locally. When the cinema closed Kay was presented with the choice between finding another menial job or moving into comedy full-time. After he entered and won Channel 4's So You Think You're Funny? contest in 1997, his first semi-professional stand-up appearances were at the 1998 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where he received a prestigious Perrier Award nomination. During this time, he also appeared at various other clubs such as London's influential Comedy Store. Although this led to a certain level of public recognition, it was only after his first live video show Live at the Top of the Tower in 2000 that Kay attained mainstream recognition. During this period, he appeared on several chat shows, such as Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and Parkinson where he had previously served as warm up. It was at this time that production also began on Phoenix Nights, which was to see him achieve critical acclaim as well as mainstream success. Subsequent advertisements, for John Smith's bitter, which imitate the realistic style of Phoenix Nights, saw Kay develop his catchphrases "'ave it!" and "two lamb bhunas".
1997–2000: Early career
Kay's first TV project was in an episode of New Voices, a comedy series which showcased up and coming talent. His episode, "Two Minutes", written by Johanne McAndrew, saw him play a getaway driver as two of his mates attempted to rob a pub of its takings. This was broadcast in 1997. After appearing on BBC2's The Sunday Show presenting his own slot entitled "Peter Kay's World of Entertainment", Kay made an episode of Channel 4's The Comedy Lab, "The Services", in 1998, which won a Royal Television Society award for best newcomer. This served as a pilot for the later That Peter Kay Thing. His idea for this series was to create a testbed for ideas and concepts that he could later use within other series. The idea of having several characters all played by himself was something with which Kay experimented.
After a favourable reception to the pilot, That Peter Kay Thing was devised. It was based solely on the experiences of Kay's earlier life working in several menial jobs. The range of characters included Brian Potter, who would go on to become the primary character in Phoenix Nights, and who Kay said was a combination of all his bosses' personalities along with the voice of a man he knows. The eccentric Leonard de Tomkinson is reputedly based on a real man named Leonard who used to visit Peter during his working time at the local Majestic Garage. Following the series' success, Kay and his co-writers, Neil Fitzmaurice and Dave Spikey, used the episode "In The Club" as the basis for Phoenix Nights. Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights was his notable TV programme, written by himself, Neil Fitzmaurice and Dave Spikey and set in a newly refurbished social club run by wheelchair-bound Brian Potter. The club was based on an episode of That Peter Kay Thing entitled "In The Club". The cast of Phoenix Nights was made up almost entirely of stand-up comics whom the writers had met on 'the circuit'. The show was an immediate hit. It followed the story of the club and the various events that happened there. Expertly written, much of the humour was somewhat implicit – relying on subtle background clues and hints or paradoxes. The first series was partly filmed at St Gregory's Social Club in Farnworth, Lancashire, where the exterior, hallways and function suite were all used. Other sets, such as the Jocky Wilson suite, were built at Granada Studios. For the second series, all filming took place at St Gregory's social club in Bolton.
In 2004 Kay followed the success with Max & Paddy's Road to Nowhere, a spin-off of Phoenix Nights. Featuring the bouncer characters from the show played by Peter Kay and Paddy McGuinness and even featured at times characters from Phoenix Nights. Made for Channel 4 to be shown on a Friday, 6 episodes were made and broadcast from November to December 2004. The DVD of the series was released in October 2005, but unlike previous DVDs does not feature commentary from either Kay or McGuinness, instead opting for "surprise" commentators. In 2005 Kay was awarded The Rose d’Or (Golden Rose) for best performance by an actor award at the prestigious international television festival in Montreux. He later commented “if anybody knows anything about comedy, it’s the Swiss” In December 2005, a spoof workout DVD was also released, starring McGuinness and Kay, entitled Max and Paddy's: The Power Of Two. Which has since gone on to become the biggest selling UK fitness DVD of all time.
On 17 April 2006, Channel 4 broadcast a "Peter Kay Night", showing out-takes from Phoenix Nights (previously featured on DVD), a behind-the-scenes documentary 180 – A Tour Documentary which followed Kay behind the scenes of his mammoth Mum Wants a Bungalow tour and also screened the whole Peter Kay Live in Manchester Arena show. During this evening, Kay was seen in character as Max (from Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere & Phoenix Nights) discussing the tribute with Paddy (Patrick McGuinness). Max stated that he disliked Peter Kay and thought that Channel 4 was going downhill for dedicating an entire night to him. Paddy wondered why ITV have not snapped up Kay. Max is shown to be ignorant of current events, failing to realise that civil partnerships are now legal and that Elton John has made use of it, to controversial news stories involving Michael Barrymore, Gary Glitter, Diana, Princess of Wales and Michael Jackson.
In 2008 Kay returned to TV after an absence four years with the international BAFTA winning satire on reality talent shows Britain’s Got The Pop Factor…And Possibly A New Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice, which he co-wrote with Paul Coleman. The two-hour special was screened on Channel 4 on 17 October 2008 and pulled in a record 6.5 million viewers, the highest viewing figure the channel had had in seven years.
Kay won his second Royal Television Society award for best actor for playing Geraldine McQueen a transsexual dinner lady from Ireland who (spoiler) went on to win the competition. The show also featured songs composed by Gary Barlow and Kay including Once Upon A Christmas Song and The Winners Song both of which reached number two in the official Top 40 ironically beating real life X-Factor winner Leon Jackson. Since 2002, Kay has featured in television advertisements for John Smith's beer through which the catchphrase—"'Ave it!"—gained popularity for an unceremonious hoof upfield in a football-themed advert.
He later claimed in his autobiography that he never meant to use "ave-it", he just said it after kicking the ball successfully. Kay’s only other TV advertising work to date has been a brief appearance in the Marks and Spencer Christmas advert in 2010
2000–2011: Stage shows
Kay has released several DVDs of live performances, including Live at the Top of the Tower, Live at the Bolton Albert Halls, which holds the record as biggest selling British stand-up DVD. Peter Kay: The Live Collections (the previous two combined). Peter Kay: Live at Manchester Arena and Peter Kay Live – The Tour That Didn’t Tour Tour which was recorded at during his record breaking fifteen night sold out run at London’s O2 arena. He remains the only act in the world, other than Prince to play as many nights. Comic Relief and Children In Need Charity Involvement A time-honored supporter of Comic Relief and Children And Need since his first appearance in 1997 Kay has given his support every year to date. The most profitable of which being the numerous music videos projects he has generated in support of the charity. The first being a hugely successful re-release of the Tony Christie track (Is This The Way To) Amarillo, The bizarre concept for the video featured Kay miming to Christie’s original vocal, walking in various locations flanked on either side by an eclectic assortment of British TV and music icons from across the decades including Michael Parkinson, Ronnie Corbett (who famously and quite painfully fell over during filming but the footage still appeared in the final edit), Geoffrey and Bungle from children’s television series Rainbow, Shakin’ Stevens, Mr Blobby, Jim Bowen, Danny Baker, Keith Harris & Orville, Ken & Deirdre (from Coronation Street) and Shaun Ryder and Bez from the Happy Monday’s and Heather Mills to name but a few.
On Sunday 20 March 2005, the single reached number one in the UK Singles Charts, and stayed there for seven consecutive weeks making it the biggest selling single of 2005 and raising over £1 million for Comic Relief
Kay followed it’s success in 2007 with the re-release of "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)", originally by the Proclaimers, but this time featuring Kay in the guise of Brian Potter joined by with comedian Matt Lucas in guise as Andy Pipkin from Little Britain. Also in support of Comic Relief the again reached number one in the UK singles chart where it remained for four weeks. As the (Is This The Way To) Amarillo the video again featured a celebration of iconic British talent and included appearances by Basil Brush, The Krankies, Bucks Fizz, Showaddy-waddy, Timmy Mallet, Dusty Bin, Rod, Jane & Freddie, Paul O’Grady, Tess Daly, Bonnie Langford, Robert Powell, Des Lynham, Mark Curry, June Whitfield and David Tennant to name but a few.
In 2009 Kay switched his musical fund raising ambitions to Children In Need with the release of Peter Kay’s All Star Animated Band a feat that took a staggering two years to complete and bringing together over one hundred animated children’s characters for the very first time in a six minute animated medley. Including Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, SpongeBob SquarePants, Paddington, the Wombles, Fireman Sam, Peppa Pig, Postman Pat, the cast of Thunderbirds and many more. It also featured some the characters original vocal talents including Bernard Cribbins, Neil Morrissey and Ringo Starr. The video was premiered on BBC1 on Friday 20 November 2009 to an audience of nine million and reached number one in the UK singles chart the following Sunday (22nd) were it remained for four weeks. Unfortunately due to contractual restrictions on behalf of the characters contained in the video the project can never be screened broadcast again and can currently only be viewed on YouTube.
Kay returned his support to Comic Relief in 2011 with a cover version of the classic hit I Know Him So Well, originally performed by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson in 1985. The song was re-recorded by multi-platinum selling singer Susan Boyle and Kay in the guise of Geraldine McQueen from Britain’s Got the Pop Factor. The video, which accompanied the single and was also directed by Kay, identically parodied the original video shot for shot. It was premiered on Comic Relief on Friday 18 March.
Kay returned with his Sit Down challenge sketch for Comic Relief 2013. An affectionate parody of the popular and fashionable celebrity charity challenges the viewers saw Kay doing what he does best in his opinion ‘sit on his arse’ and thus embark on a mammoth sit down challenge from Belfast to London aided and abated by the crème de la crème of the showbiz and Olympic world. Wearily he eventually made his way to Comic relief night, live on Friday 22 March (and the last live broadcast ever to be made from the iconic BBC Television Centre). The challenge also so the re-release of the classic James song Sit Down and an accompanying video performed by Tim Booth, Kay and the band was also premiered on the night.
Return to Stand Up
In November 2009, after an absence from of seven years Kay announced a return to stand-up with four nights (later extended to 40) dates at the Manchester Arena the following April with a tour entitled "The Tour that Doesn't Tour Tour”. The reason given for restricting the tour to Manchester only was so that Peter could remain close to his family. However due to record breaking ticket sales and a phenomenal public demand Kay announced On 27 November 2009 during an interview on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, that due to the demand the tour The Tour That Doesn't Tour Tour...would now be going On Tour. Venues for tour include London's O2 Arena, Birmingham's National Indoor Arena and LG Arena, Cardiff International Arena, Sheffield Arena, SECC, Belfast Odyssey, Dublin the O2, Liverpool Arena, Newcastle Metro Radio Arena, which took place in November 2010 and April 2011 and then end again at Manchester and entitled 'The Tour That Doesn't Tour...Now On Tour...The Farewell Tour'. In October 2010 Kay announced 6 further dates for 2011, due to phenomenal demand bringing the total shows to 140. Kay remains the only artist in the world ever to play forty sold out nights at an arena. In January 2012 The tour entered the Guinness Book of World Records in as officially the most successful stand-up comedy tour of all time playing to a total of 1.2 million people. Kay has no plans to ever tour stand-up again.
In February 2007, Kay played flamboyant gay director Roger DeBris in the Tony Award winning Mel Brooks musical, The Producers at Manchester’s prestigious Palace Theatre for 120 shows. He also returned to the role for the last week of the UK tour of the production at Cardiff’s Millenium theatre in December 2007.
He also appeared in the Royal Variety Performance four times to date. As a performer in 1998 and 2008 where he appeared in the guise of Geraldine McQueen and as host of the ceremony in 2009 at the Opera House, Blackpool and also in 2011 at the Lowry theatre in Salford.
He appeared in the first episode of the 2002 series of the BBC's comedy-drama Linda Green, playing a pizza delivery man who ended up being something of a soulmate to the eponymous heroine.
He has had two cameo roles in Coronation Street. The first, in the late 1990s, was a brief appearance as a shopfitter, but in January 2004 he co-wrote his own scenes, appearing alongside real-life good friend, Sally Lindsay, who played Shelley Unwin. On 17 June 2006, Kay appeared in a Doctor Who episode titled "Love & Monsters". His character, the sinister Victor Kennedy, proved to be an alien called the Abzorbaloff in disguise. Although the episode itself was quite comedic, Kay's role was more serious than those he normally plays.
Kay has also appeared twice alongside British band Take That, in An Audience with Take That and as Geraldine McQueen in Take That Come To Town. He also co-wrote The Winner's Song and Once Upon A Christmas Song with Take That member, Gary Barlow. He made a surprise appearance at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert on 4 June 2012, in which he was dressed as a Beefeater.
Kay has appeared on numerous chat shows, including Parkinson, The Paul O'Grady Show, The Jonathan Ross Show and The Late Late Show in Ireland. When he appeared on the Paul O'Grady Show (ITV1) at Christmas 2005, he came on in a Christmas tree costume. For his second appearance with Paul on The New Paul O'Grady Show (Channel 4) he was dressed as a Catholic nun wearing a large mask of himself, mimicking the front cover of his new book, The Sound of Laughter. At Christmas 2006 he made a third appearance, this time dressed up as a snowman. On his fourth appearance, on 5 June 2007, he came onto the set dressed as a chicken. He also appeared on the last ever edition of Parkinson in 2007 alongside Sir Michael Caine, Sir David Attenborough, David Beckham and comic inspiration Billy Connolly. Making a return to the programme on which he'd been a warm-up act years before. He hugged everyone on the show. He also brought with him a bag of 'goodies' including party hats and also a lollipop man's outfit as a joke for Parkinson's use during his retirement.
Kay has released three autobiographies, two of them are called The Sound of Laughter and Saturday Night Peter, both books have parody titles of films, The Sound of Music and Saturday Night Fever. He also released a third book has just recently released a new book named The Book That's More Than Just a Book.
In 2003, he was listed in the Observer as one of the 50 Funniest British Comedians. In addition, he made an appearance in a 2005 poll of comedians and critics to find the Comedians' Comedian, a search for the 50 greatest funnymen of all time. In March 2005 he also came top in a survey sponsored by the Jongleurs comedy club chain to find Britain's favourite comedian.
In 2006, a Channel 4 television show 100 Greatest Funny Moments voted him at the Number 1 spot, most notably for his stand-up act, Mum Wants a Bungalow tour at the Bolton Albert Halls, including his description of a family wedding and Bullseye. Peter Kay was included in the Independent on Sunday's "Happy List" in 2009 as "simply Britain's best comedian", and – as an exception to their general rule – was included again in 2010 for also raising funds for Children in Need.
- 2005: The Best Of Peter Kay - So Far
|2005||"Is This the Way to Amarillo" (Tony Christie feat. Peter Kay) ||1||1||4|
|2007||"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" (as Brian Potter, with The Proclaimers and Andy Pipkin) ||1||—||16|
|2008||"The Winner's Song" 1||2||—||21|
|"Once Upon a Christmas Song" 1||5||35||15|
|2009||"The Official BBC Children in Need Medley" (Peter Kay's Animated All-Star Band)||1||6||7|
|2011||"I Know Him So Well" (with Susan Boyle) 1||11||—||—|
^1 As Geraldine McQueen.
- New Voices [episode "Two Minutes"] (1996)
- Coronation Street (Shopfitter) (1997)
- Comedy Lab [episode "The Services"] (1998)
- Butterfly Collectors (Ronnie) (1999)
- That Peter Kay Thing (1999)
- Phoenix Nights (2000–01)
- Linda Green (Eddie) (2002)
- Comic Relief 2003: The Big Hair Do (Brian Potter) (2003)
- Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere (2004)
- Coronation Street (Eric Gartside) (2004)
- The Catherine Tate Show (Tommy) (2005)
- Doctor Who – Love & Monsters (2006)
- Little Britain Abroad (2006)
- Roary the Racing Car (Voice Over (Big Chris)) (2007–present)
- Tayo the Little Bus (Voice Over Of (Cito, Toto, Met & Wondie)).
- Britain's Got the Pop Factor... and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice (2008)
- Take That Come To Town as Geraldine McQueen (2008)
- Brit Awards 2010 (Himself) (2010)
- Comic Relief 2013 (Himself) 2013
- Thomas and Friends (Hank) (2014)
- Car Share (John) (2014)
- Going Off Big Time (Flipper) (2000)
- Blow Dry (Cyril the Barman) (2001)
- Roddy Smythe Investigates... (Tommy Doyle) (2002)
- 24 Hour Party People (Don Tonay) (2002)
- Last Rumba in Rochdale (Dad: Voice) (2002)
- The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse (Simon Pig) (2005)
- Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (PC Mackintosh) (2005)
- Max and Paddy's Power of Two (Max) (2005)
- Live At The Bolton Albert Halls (10 November 2003) – Live at Bolton's Town Hall
- Live At The Top Of The Tower (22 November 2004) – Live at Blackpool Tower
- Live At The Manchester Arena (2005) – Live at the Manchester Arena
- Peter Kay's Special Kay (17 November 2008)
- Live – The Tour That Didn't Tour – Tour (7 November 2011) – Live at London's O2 Arena
- Live & Back on Nights (19 November 2012)
- Youngs, Ian (4 October 2005). "The secret of Barker's success". BBC News (London). Retrieved 22 September 2008.
- McLean, Gareth (15 October 2004). "The Guardian profile: Peter Kay". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 7 August 2010.
- He was born 2 July 1973 when Farnworth was still a municipal borough and did not become part of Bolton Metro until 01/04/1974
- "Is This the Way to Amarillo", A Charts
- "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)", A Charts
- Kay records Children in Need song BBC News, 9 November 2009
- "The Catherine Tate Show" Season 2 Episode 6 (2005) imdB.com
- "Doctor Who" Love & Monsters (2006) imdB.com
- "Roary the Racing Car" (2007) imdB.com
- Britain's Got the Pop Factor ...and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice (2008) imdB.com
- Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit imdB.com
- "Newsbeat – Peter Kay is the first comedian to sell 10 million DVDs". BBC. 13 December 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2012.