|Created by||Peter Kay
|Written by||Neil Fitzmaurice (12 episodes, 2001–02)
Peter Kay (12 episodes, 2001–02)
Dave Spikey (12 episodes, 2001–02)
|Directed by||Jonny Campbell (6 episodes, 2001)
Peter Kay (6 episodes, 2002)
|Country of origin||England|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||12|
|Executive producer(s)||Phil McIntyre|
|Running time||24 Minutes|
|Original network||Channel 4|
|Original release||14 January 2001 –
12 September 2002
|Preceded by||That Peter Kay Thing (2000)|
|Followed by||Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere (2004)|
Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights is a British sitcom about The Phoenix Club, a working men's club in the northern English town of Farnworth, Greater Manchester. The show was written by Neil Fitzmaurice, Peter Kay and Dave Spikey, produced by Goodnight Vienna Productions and Ovation Entertainments, and was broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK. All the music was written by Toni Baker and Peter Kay. Additional material was provided by Paddy McGuinness. Two series have been produced, which were first transmitted in 2001 and 2002.
The show is a spin-off from the spoof documentary series That Peter Kay Thing, and in turn gave rise to the spin-off Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere. It won the People's Choice Award at the British Comedy Awards 2002, and was nominated for several others. Kay is also its star, in multiple roles, and directed the second series.
The owner of The Phoenix Club is the wheelchair user Brian Potter (played by Peter Kay), who has presided over two clubs in the past: the first (The Aquarius) flooded, the second (The Neptune) burned down. His ambition (with the help of Jerry St Clair) is to see The Phoenix Club become the most popular in Bolton and thus outdo his nemesis, Den Perry (Ted Robbins). Perry is the owner of rival club The Banana Grove.
As well as being set in Bolton, Phoenix Nights is also filmed in the area. The location for the club itself is St Gregory's Social Club on Church Street a few miles from Bolton in the town of Farnworth.
When Max and Paddy return from France in Series 2, the location used is Fleetwood Docks.
- Episode 1
It is the opening day of Brian Potter's new club, the Phoenix (having had two previous clubs burn down while one flooded). With "TV's own Roy Walker" opening the club that night, Brian wants everything to be perfect. But he has to contend with a power cut that leaves the club in the dark, the theft of the bingo machine, a German-speaking "Das Boot" arcade machine, Max the doorman injuring himself and a racist folk band "Half A Shilling" (with the lead singer played by Tim Healy). The band are ostensibly singing about Holy Communion Shoes, although the journalist Deborah detects the racist metaphor in the song inappropriately named "Send The Buggers Back". These factors soon ruin everything.
- Episode 2
The new DJ Ray Von accidentally kills The Captain with his home-made smoke machine. Things go from bad to worse when two men in overalls walk in off the street and steal the television set, with all of the staff doing nothing about it, except for Kenny Senior who kindly hands them the remote control. A warped Snooker table is replaced by a bucking bronco, which leads to a Wild West Night being held. It's a huge success, until Jerry's blatantly rigged shoot out between Lancashire and Yorkshire gets violent and a drunken horse tries to have sex with the bucking bronco.
- Episode 3
Jerry St. Clair has booked psychic medium Clinton Baptiste (Alex Lowe) for the club, who had been recommended by Den Perry; Jerry seems oblivious to the fact that Den Perry wants the Phoenix Club to fail. Brian and Jerry then have to attend a fire safety seminar with Keith Lard (from That Peter Kay Thing), who was arrested for "interfering" with dogs, but was acquitted due to lack of evidence. After the meeting, Lard tells Brian he will be inspecting the club immediately to ensure it meets safety standards. Jerry and Brian rush back to the club before Keith inspects it, but a run-in with the police delays them and Keith shuts the club down for being unsafe. Brian, never a quitter, blackmails Lard with a faked photo of Lard's head on the body of a semi-nude man (with a dog) so that he re-opens the club, but the event they re-open for, the psychic night, forces Brian to refund all of his guests after Clinton Baptiste, the psychic (whose appearance and vocal mannerisms parody UK television psychic Derek Acorah), tells a bit more about the future than the guests would like.
- Episode 4
It's 'Singles Night' at the Phoenix club, and the club's house band, Les Alanos, and doormen Max and Paddy are all looking. Brian is the most successful, though, when he accidentally runs over a woman's foot before buying her a drink and talking the night away. Throughout the episode, their relationship progresses, until she (Beverley) reveals to Brian that she works for the DSS and was sent to investigate him for fraudulent disability claims. Despite Beverley's assertions that her feelings for him are genuine, Brian finishes with her. Elsewhere, Paddy strikes up a relationship with Holy Mary's daughter Mary.
- Episode 5
Jerry is in hospital. Before Brian argues with Jerry's decision to host an alternative comedy night, the comedy night turns out to be a disaster, with none of the entrants being any good. As one of the acts, Steve Davies plays a placid metalwork teacher introduced as 'Darius' by Jerry. Darius comes on wearing only a pair of C&A underpants with 'Darius' written in ink on his body, and proceeds to have a psychotic episode with unintelligible language delivered menacingly towards the audience and the house band onstage whilst striking the drummer's cymbal with his hand. He is crying out to the universe to complete his breakdown. A surreal moment in the midst of all the other chaotic and incongruous acts before and after. At the end of it all, Jerry has a heated confrontation with a student who had been heckling him, until he threatens to hit Jerry and all of the staff stick up for him. Elsewhere, Ray Von hosts a Robot Wars tournament, which is won by Max and Paddy, who are using a robot built by Ray, who has a penchant for electronics. At the end of the episode, a man called Dougie offers Jerry a job on a cruise ship.
- Episode 6
Jerry gets an all-clear. However, Brian tells him to keep pretending to be ill because the club got the rights to host Talent Trek as Brian told the organizers that Jerry is dying. Tensions boil when Brian has to hire a Right Said Fred tribute band called 'Right Said Frank' for the grand finale due to Les Alanos performing a Karate Kid musical with the local youth club on the same night. Right Said Frank end up stealing stereos from all the cars parked outside. Ray Von tries to stop them but he is overpowered. Luckily, they slam into Max's car, setting off his personal alarm. Max and Paddy rush outside and tackle the two men to the ground. Brian then 'reveals' to the audience that Jerry has got an all-clear for his illness. Despite everything, Jerry can't bring himself to leave the club and turns down the cruise ship job offer. The series concludes with Den Perry, outraged at the success of the Phoenix Club, setting it on fire.
- Episode 1
Brian and the staff watch the club burn to the ground, with Jerry managing to rescue Brian's little disabled boy-shaped charity box. After the flames are put out, a fireman reveals the fire was caused by a discarded cigarette or cigar, leading Brian to believe Den Perry was responsible. Brian then has to appear in court due to his breach of fire and safety regulations and as a result his alcohol licence is revoked and he is blacklisted by the breweries. A broken man, Brian dreams of rebuilding the Phoenix Club. On his trip to Asda, he finds Jerry and Alan singing to promote products. Brian begs Jerry to help him to rebuild the Phoenix but Jerry rebuffs him and tells him to forget about the Phoenix. Still undeterred, Brian travels to Blackpool to visit an old friend, Frank Cartwright (played by Jim Bowen), owner of the Hotel "Le Ponderosa", who tells him to sell bottles and cans to get around the ban, get a licensee whom he can manipulate and have lots of facilities under one roof. Brian then goes around to find all of the staff. He finds Les working as a butcher, Kenny Senior as a lollipop man (where he constantly lies to the kids crossing the road), Ray Von at a fairground, and Holy Mary in church. In what was to become an iconic moment for the series he calls Max and Paddy as they are driving elderly Asian gentlemen to a mosque and singing at the tops of their voices to Is This the Way to Amarillo? by Tony Christie, which is playing on Chorley FM. Brian succeeds in bringing all of them together to discuss his plans, and convinces Jerry to become the new licensee.
- Episode 2
Reconstruction is going quite well, and a fun day is organised to raise awareness of the rebuilding. However, an inflatable that resembles an erect penis is all but rejected by Potter so it is fastened to the ground and covered up. Unfortunately, the penis escapes from its cover and explodes, shocking everyone who is spending their money. Furthermore, a botched face-painting job leaves Young Kenny with a permanent tiger face. Elsewhere, Max and Paddy go to France to stock up on booze while unwittingly picking up two Chinese immigrants in the process.
- Episode 3
Brian decides to get the club on Crimetime for publicity and a chance to accuse Den Perry. Changes are made throughout the club to make it look good for the TV crew, but the TV appearance is a disaster when Brian loses it after he believes that he is being accused of burning the club down himself. Elsewhere, Spencer is hired for the vacant bar job.
- Episode 4
Brian comes across two Japanese people promoting their new lager, and offers them a chance to promote it in the club, an offer they accept. A pub quiz is arranged, with the winner taking home a year's supply of the lager. Both Brian and Den Perry enter teams to try and win it. Brian's team wins, but his victory is short-lived when it turns out the lager is non-alcoholic. In the other suite, Jerry's medication binge gets the better of him and he loses it on stage, which causes him to go into the next suite and urinate everywhere, shocking the customers.
- Episode 5
A power cut in Brian's home sees him stuck on his stair lift all night until Jerry breaks his door down the next morning. At the club, Jerry has turned part of the club into a Chinese restaurant called "The Golden Phoenix", and a ladies night has been arranged, which causes Paddy to go onto the stage dressed in nothing but a fake moustache and leather thong, and carrying a trident. Outside, Max is accosted by a woman who wants her husband killed. Max tells her that he will kill her husband for £8,000. Lying to Paddy that she will pay them both £1,000, Max gets Paddy to agree to do the job with him. Max, Paddy and Max's brother Terry go to practise shooting using a Broomhandled Mauser which Max's grandad left to him. When Paddy starts to fire, he accidentally shoots Terry. Eventually, Max and Paddy can't kill the man and give him £3,000 to leave the country, Max gives Paddy £1,000, and spends £4,000 on a motor home.
- Episode 6
Max and Paddy spot the man they were meant to kill in town, and are later confronted by his angry wife, who hints that she has put a hit out on them. She also reveals to Paddy that she paid Max £8,000, of which Paddy only received £1,000. In the club, Brian has arranged Stars In Your Eyes to impress a brewery representative who is coming over. Den Perry, however, has other ideas and cancels the acts by impersonating Jerry. However, in a memorable series of scenes, all of the staff from the club dress up to become acts, including Holy Mary as Lulu, Ray Von and Les Alanos as Adam and the Ants, Kenny Senior as Britney Spears, Young Kenny as Meat Loaf, Jerry as Eminem and George Michael, Brian as Elton John and Spencer as Gary Glitter. At the end of the episode, Den Perry threatens Brian and talks to him about burning the club down before and makes threats to do it again, unaware that Brian has switched on a radio microphone on his desk, meaning that the entire club has heard the conversation. Den Perry is arrested and the staff celebrate. Ray Von then reminds Brian now the truth has come out, he can get his licence back. However, Brian decides to let Jerry remain as licensee and the staff hold a toast to Jerry. At the end of the episode, Max, terrified that there is a hit out on him, is about to flee all over the country in his motor home, when Paddy decides to come with him, setting the scene for the spin-off series Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere.
Each episode of both series of the show, except the last episode, ends with an unrelated audition for a performance at the Phoenix in front of the staff. The performances are always abnormal and, with the exception of one, never successful.
- Series 1: six episodes, broadcast 14 January 2001 to 18 February 2001
- Series 2: six episodes, broadcast 8 August 2002 to 12 September 2002
Phoenix Nights is rarely repeated on British television. During an interview with Danny Baker for Peter Kay In Conversation, Kay stated he resents allowing his shows, including Phoenix Nights, to be repeated as it "dilutes the quality" of the programme, citing Only Fools and Horses as an example of a highly regarded programme "ruined" by excessive repeat showings.
Potential third series
In September 2006, Kay revealed on BBC Radio 1 that a third series of Phoenix Nights has been written, but it is unknown when the series will be filmed. On 8 May 2007, another announcement by Kay was made promising another series will be made.
However Dave Spikey, in interviews with The Sentinel and the Croydon Guardian in late-2009, claimed that neither he nor fellow co-writer Neil Fitzmaurice were aware of any plans to bring back the series.
In a recent interview with Peter Kay he stated that he had written a third series of 'Phoenix Nights' and had even written a screenplay for it. However when asked if he would be going back there he said that he would prefer to do something new next.
Kay also claims he's been approached to make a Phoenix Nights movie following the success of The Inbetweeners Movie.
- Peter Kay's Britain's Got the Pop Factor... and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice
- "Spikey's back but wait for Phoenix is still ongoing". The Sentinel. 23 October 2009.
- Moody, Graham (25 October 2009). "Comedy: Dave Spikey at Fairfield Halls, Croydon". Croydon Guardian.