Entertainment

Peter Kay: Life and Career of the Legendary British Comedian


Who is Peter Kay?

Peter John Kay is a legendary and beloved English comedian and actor. Peter Kay has written and acted in several film and television projects. He has also served as a producer on many such projects. Aside from that, Peter Kay has also written three successful books.

When was Peter Kay born?

Peter Kay was born on July 2nd 1973 and brought up in Bolton, Lancashire, to a family of Irish descent, Kay studied media performance at the University of Salford. He began working part-time as a stand-up comedian, winning the North West Comedian of the Year award. In 1997, he won Channel 4’s So You Think You’re Funny contest and the following year was nominated for a Perrier Award for his show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As his popularity and public stature increased, Peter Kay co-wrote and starred in That Peter Kay Thing for Channel 4 in the year 2000. This resulted in a spin-off sitcom, Phoenix Nights, which ran for two series from 2001–02, and in turn generated another spin-off, Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere, in 2004. During the year 2005, Peter Kay recorded a funny promotional video. In the video, Peter Kay mimed to Tony Christie’s 1971 hit “Is This the Way to Amarillo“. The video was re-released later in aid of the Comic Relief charity. Upon the re-release, the video was credited to “Tony Christie featuring Peter Kay”. The song reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart, remaining at the top spot for seven weeks and ended up being the the best-selling song of 2005 in the UK.

In 2008, he co-wrote and starred in Britain’s Got the Pop Factor… and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice, a parody of several British reality television shows. While starring in it, Peter Kay released the single “The Winner’s Song” as Geraldine McQueen, the fictional protagonist of the series. The song was a super hit and reached #2 in the UK singles chart. His 2010–11 stand-up comedy tour was officially inaugurated into the Guinness World Records as the most successful of all time, playing to over 1.2 million people. He co-wrote and starred in Peter Kay’s Car Share, a sitcom screened by the BBC for two series between 2015–17. He also starred in the 2015 BBC sitcom Cradle to Grave. Peter Kay received a large number of awards in the year 2016. He won the BAFTA TV Awards for Best Male Comedy Performance and Best Scripted Comedy. Peter Kay also won the National Television Award for Best Comedy for Car Share. Aside from the awards for his comedy, he also received an educational boost by receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Salford.

Where did Peter Kay grow up?

Peter Kay was born and brought up in Deane, Bolton, Lancashire, where he attended Mount Saint Joseph RC School, leaving with one GCSE in art. Peter Kay’s father, Michael Kay worked as an engineer. Sadly, he didn’t live long enough to see Peter Kay’s success and passed away just before Peter’s career was about to take off. Peter Kay’s mother, Deirdre O’Neill, is a Roman Catholic from Coal Island, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland and Peter was brought up in her faith.

Growing up, Peter Kay worked several minor jobs. His résumé includes working in a Netto supermarket, cash and carry, toilet roll factory, cinema, petrol station and a bingo hall. Peter Kay’s previous jobs inspired episodes for his show, That Peter Kay Thing.

Peter Kay began a degree course at the University of Liverpool in Drama, Theatre Studies and English Literature. Struggling with the course, he changed to studying a Higher National Diploma (HND) in media performance (including stand-up) at the University of Salford’s Adelphi Campus School of Media, Music and Performance. On July 19th, 2016, at Salford’s Lowry Theatre, as reward and recognition for his incredible contribution to the entertainment industry, Peter Kay received an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from his alma mater.

His first stand-up was the competition the North West Comedian of the Year, which was held in Manchester and hosted by Dave Spikey, who would later be the co-star and co-writer of Phoenix Nights. Even though Peter Kay was last on the bill, he still won the competition. He beat Johnny Vegas for the title. Peter Kay has maintained that he was always seeking a career in comedy. While Peter Kay’s comedy success was growing, he was still not able to earn enough money to make a living off it. As a result, Peter Kay was forced to continue working part-time as an usher at his local cinema in Bolton while performing stand-up locally. However, the cinema shut soon and Peter Kay had to choose  between finding another job or pursuing comedy full-time.

After Peter Kay entered and won Channel 4’s So You Think You’re Funny? contest in 1997, he started making his first semi-professional stand-up appearances. Peter Kay’s first semi-professional stand up gig was at the 1998 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. At the festival, Peter Kay also received a prestigious Perrier Award nomination. During this time, he also appeared at various other clubs, such as London’s Comedy Store.

Though the aforementioned success led to a boost in Peter Kay’s public recognition, he didn’t really achieve mainstream recognition until his first live video show Live at the Top of the Tower in 2000. During this period, he appeared on several chat shows, such as Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and Parkinson, on the latter of which he had previously served as warm up. During this time-period, work also began on his Phoenix Nights series. Following advertisements for John Smith’s butter which imitated Peter Kay’s style from Phoenix Nights led to the development of Peter Kay’s catchphrases such as “‘ave it!” and “two lamb bhunas”.

Who is Peter Kay married to?

In a Bolton nightclub in 1998, Peter Kay met Susan Gargan whilst he was working at the local cinema. The couple married in 2001 after being in a relationship for three years. They have remained very private about their children. They have a teenage son, Charlie Michael Kay (that they named after their fathers, with Charlie being the name of Susan’s late father). They are also thought to have other children

Which was Peter Kay’s first TV project?

Peter Kay’s first TV project came during a 1997 episode of New Voices. It was a  a comedy series which focused on showcasing rising talent. His episode, “Two Minutes”, written by Johanne McAndrew, saw him play a getaway driver as two of his friends attempted to rob a pub of its takings. Peter Kay played a delivery driver as a part of the cast for BBC drama Born to Run in the year 1997. Peter Kay presented a slot titled “Peter Kay’s World of Entertainment” on BBC2’s The Sunday Show. Peter Kay then went on to make an episode of Channel 4’s Comedy Lab, “The Services“, in the year 1998. That went on to win a Royal Television Society award for the best newcomer. That award winning episode went on to serve as a pilot for That Peter Kay Thing. After the spectacular success of the series, Peter Kay and his co-writers – Neil Fitzmaurice and Dave Spikey, utilized the “In the Club” episode as the basis for Phoenix Nights. That show went on to be an immediate hit. Phoenix Nights was set in a newly refurbished social club which was run by Brian Potter. Part of the first series was filmed at the St Gregory’s Social Club in Farnworth, Greater Manchester. The club’s exterior, hallways and function suite were used for the show.

In 2004, Peter Kay followed the success with Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere, a spin-off of Phoenix Nights. The show featured the bouncer characters from the show—played by Kay and Paddy McGuinness—and at times also featured other characters from Phoenix Nights. Six episodes were made and broadcast from November to December 2004 by Channel 4. In 2005, Kay was awarded a Rose d’Or at the international television festival in Montreux for Best Performance by an Actor.

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”.  The show featured behind the scenes of Peter Kay’s Mum Wants a Bungalow tour. It also screened the Peter Kay Live in Manchester show in its entirety. After an absence of four years, Peter Kay returned to television with the BAFTA-winning satire of reality talent shows, Peter Kay’s Britain’s Got the Pop Factor… and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice, in the year 2008. Peter Kay co-wrote the show with Paul Coleman. The two-hour special was screened on Channel 4 on 17 October 2008. Peter Kay won his second Royal Television Society award for best actor for playing an Irish transsexual dinner lady called Geraldine McQueen.

Which are Peter Kay’s Best Live Performances?

Peter Kay has released numerous DVDs of his incredible live performances. The titles include Live at the Bolton Albert Halls (which holds the record as biggest selling British stand-up DVD), Peter Kay: Live at Manchester Arena, Live at the Top of the TowerPeter Kay: The Live Collections (the previous two combined), and Peter Kay Live – The Tour That Didn’t Tour Tour (this DVD was recorded during his fifteen-night sold-out run at The O2 Arena in London).

In the year 2007, for Comic Relief, Peter Kay released a wonderfully hilarious cover version of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, a song originally recorded by the Proclaimers. The video was essentially Peter Kay’s celebration of British talent. In 2009, Kay switched his musical fund-raising to Children in Need with the release of Peter Kay’s All Star Animated Band, which had taken two years to complete. He brought together over 100 animated children’s characters in a six-minute animated medley. These characters included Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder and Paddington Bear. The video also featured a lot of the characters’ original voice artists such as Bernard Cribbins, Neil Morrissey, Ken Barrie and Ringo Starr. The video premiered on BBC1 on November 20th 2009.

Peter Kay returned to Comic Relief in 2011 with a cover version of “I Know Him So Well”. Multi-platinum artist Susan Boyle and Peter Kay in the guise of Geraldine McQueen from Britain’s Got the Pop Factor re-recorded the song. The video which accompanied the single was also directed by Kay and identically parodied the original video shot for shot. It premiered on Comic Relief on Friday, 18 March 2011.

Peter Kay’s Car Share, his own sitcom began airing in May 2015. The series proved to be a huge success and much to Peter Kay’s joy, a second series was commissioned to start in April 2017. In October 2015, Peter Kay also starred in Cradle to Grave, a BBC sitcom based on the teenage life of Danny Baker.

After an absence of seven years, Peter Kay announced a return to stand-up in November 2009. Peter Kay returned with four (later extended to 20) dates at the Manchester Arena the following April with a show entitled The Tour That Doesn’t Tour Tour…Now On Tour. The ridiculously high demand for tickets caused Peter Kay to announce soon that the entire show would become a part of a tour. In January 2012, the tour entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful stand-up comedy tour of all time, featuring a total audience of 1.2 million people.

Peter Kay’s stand up tour faced some criticism when a lot of disabled fans were hit with bills of up to £39 while being on premium phone lines to book Peter Kay’s tour tickets.

Peter Kay announced his intention to again make a return to stand-up with his first brand new tour in eight years in November 2017. Peter Kay Live: Have Gags, Will Travel was scheduled to start touring in 2018, beginning with the Genting Arena in April before touring at venues such as SSE Hydro, Manchester Arena, The O2 Arena, First Direct Arena, SSE Arena Belfast, Sheffield Arena and Echo Arena Liverpool.

However, much to his fans’ chagrin, Peter Kay announced on December 13th 2017 that he was going to cancel all future work projects (including Peter Kay Live: Have Gags Will Travel tour) for family reasons. Peter Kay also implored the media to respect the family of him and his family. The tour hit criticism once again because of the highly expensive phone calls for refunds. Fans were charged 62p per minute to call premium rate phone lines to claim ticket refunds.

In February 2007, Kay played flamboyant gay director Roger DeBris in the Mel Brooks musical The Producers at Manchester’s Palace Theatre for 120 shows.

He appeared in the first episode of the 2002 series of Linda Green, playing a pizza delivery man who ended up being something of a soulmate to the eponymous heroine. He has had two 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 Sally Lindsay, who played Shelley Unwin.

Who did Peter Kay play on Doctor Who?

On 17 June 2006, Peter Kay appeared in the Doctor Who episode “Love & Monsters”. Peter Kay’s character was the sinister Victor Kennedy. As the episode progressed, Victor Kennedy was exposed as an alien named Abzorbaloff.

Peter Kay was also included in the Independent on Sunday’s “Happy List” in 2009 as “simply Britain’s best comedian”. Peter Kay was included in 2010 as well (as an exception to their general rule). He was mainly appreciated for raising funds for the Children in Need foundation.

On September 9th, 2017, Peter Kay participated in the “We Are Manchester” benefit concert to mark the reopening of Manchester Arena after it was shut down because of the terrorist attack in May. Peter Kay addressed the crowd with a moving speech before he introduced the concert’s headline act Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds



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