Peter Kay

Peter John Kay (born 1973) is an English comedian and actor. Kay has written, produced, and acted in several television and film projects, and authored three books.

Peter Kay
Kay giving a comedy master class at the University of Salford in 2012
Birth namePeter John Kay
Born (1973-07-02) 2 July 1973
Farnworth, Lancashire, England
MediumStand-up, television, film
Alma materUniversity of Salford
Years active1996–present
GenresObservational comedy, musical comedy, physical comedy
Subject(s)Everyday life, marriage, family, British culture, pop culture, human behaviour
Susan Gargan (m. 2001)
Notable works and rolesThat Peter Kay Thing (1999)
Phoenix Nights
Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere (2004)
Britain's Got the Pop Factor... and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice (2008)
Peter Kay's Car Share (2015–18)
Cradle to Grave (2015)
Peter Kay's Comedy Shuffle (2016–18)

Born 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. With his public profile raised, in 2000, he co-wrote and starred in That Peter Kay Thing for Channel 4. 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. In 2005, he recorded a promotional video in which he mimed to Tony Christie's 1971 hit "Is This the Way to Amarillo"; the song then reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart, becoming that year's best-selling single in the UK.

In 2008, Kay 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. As the series' fictional protagonist Geraldine McQueen, he released the single "The Winner's Song", which 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,[2] 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.

In 2016, Kay won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Male Comedy Performance, the BAFTA TV Award for Best Scripted Comedy and the National Television Award for Best Comedy for Car Share. He also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Salford.[3]

Early life

Peter John Kay was born and brought up in Deane, Bolton, Lancashire,[4] where he attended Mount Saint Joseph RC School, leaving with one GCSE in art. His father, Michael, was an engineer who died just before Peter's career took off.[4] His mother, Deirdre O'Neill, is a Roman Catholic from Coalisland, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland[5] and Peter was brought up in her faith. He took several minor jobs, including working in a toilet roll factory, a Netto supermarket, Manchester Arena, a cash and carry, a cinema, a petrol station and a bingo hall, which later inspired episodes for That Peter Kay Thing.

He began a degree course at the University of Liverpool in Drama, Theatre Studies and English Literature.[1] 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.[3] In recognition of his contribution to the entertainment industry, Kay went on to receive an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from his alma mater on 19 July 2016, at Salford's Lowry Theatre.[3]

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. 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 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 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, on the latter of which he had previously served as warm up. It was at this time that production also began on Phoenix Nights. Subsequent advertisements for John Smith's bitter which imitate the style of Phoenix Nights saw Kay develop his catchphrases "'ave it!" and "two lamb bhunas".

In a Bolton nightclub in 1998, Kay met Susan Gargan whilst he was working at the local cinema. They 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.[4]

1997–2000: Early career

Kay's first TV project was in a 1997 episode of New Voices, a comedy series which showcased 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. In 1997, he played a delivery driver in the BBC drama Born to Run.[6] After presenting a slot titled "Peter Kay's World of Entertainment" on BBC2's The Sunday Show, Kay made an episode of Channel 4's Comedy Lab, "The Services", in 1998, which won a Royal Television Society award for best newcomer. This served as a pilot for That Peter Kay Thing. 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, which was an immediate hit. Set in a newly refurbished social club run by Brian Potter, the first series was filmed in part at St Gregory's Social Club in Farnworth, Greater Manchester, where the exterior, hallways and function suite were used.

In 2004, 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" which followed Kay behind the scenes of his Mum Wants a Bungalow tour and screened the whole Peter Kay Live in Manchester Arena show. In 2008, he returned to television after an absence of four years 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, which he co-wrote with Paul Coleman. The two-hour special was screened on Channel 4 on 17 October 2008. Kay won his second Royal Television Society award for best actor for playing Geraldine McQueen, a transsexual dinner lady from Ireland.

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 during his fifteen-night sold-out run at The O2 Arena in London).

BBC work

In 2007, Kay followed this success with a cover version of "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)", originally by the Proclaimers, for Comic Relief. The video featured a 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. It also featured some of the characters' original voice artists including Bernard Cribbins, Neil Morrissey, Ken Barrie and Ringo Starr. The video was premiered on BBC1 on 20 November 2009.

Kay returned his support to Comic Relief in 2011 with a cover version of "I Know Him So Well". 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 was also directed by Kay and identically parodied the original video shot for shot. It premiered on Comic Relief on Friday, 18 March 2011.

In May 2015 his own sitcom Peter Kay's Car Share began to air. The series was a success and a second series was commissioned to start in April 2017. In October 2015, he starred in Cradle to Grave another BBC sitcom based on Danny Baker's life as a teenager.

Return to stand-up

In November 2009, after an absence of seven years, Kay announced a return to stand-up 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. Demand for tickets caused him to announce soon after that the show would be toured. In January 2012, the tour entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful stand-up comedy tour of all time, playing to a total of 1.2 million people.[2]

Kay's tour faced criticism when his disabled fans were hit with bills of up to £39 on premium phone lines booking tour tickets.[7]

In November 2017, Kay announced his intention to return to stand-up with his first tour in eight years. Peter Kay Live: Have Gags, Will Travel was scheduled to begin 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. On 13 December 2017, Kay announced that he was cancelling all future work projects (including Peter Kay Live: Have Gags Will Travel tour) for family reasons.[8] He has asked that the media respect his and his family's privacy.[9] The tour hit criticism again regarding phone calls as fans were charged 62p per minute to call premium rate phone lines to claim ticket refunds.[10]

Theatre work

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.

Guest appearances

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.[11]

On 17 June 2006, Kay appeared in the Doctor Who episode "Love & Monsters".[11] His character, the sinister Victor Kennedy, proved to be an alien called the Abzorbaloff in disguise. 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.[12][13]

On 9 September 2017, Kay took part in the "We Are Manchester" benefit concert to mark the reopening of Manchester Arena (following the terrorist attack in May). He gave a speech to the crowd before introducing the concert's headline act Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.

Goodnight Vienna Productions

Kay and his wife Susan are the two directors of Goodnight Vienna Productions,[14] which co-produces Kay's comedy output.[15]



  • 2005: The Best of Peter Kay – So Far


Year Song UK IRE EU
2005 "Is This the Way to Amarillo" (Tony Christie feat. Peter Kay) [16] 1 1 4
2007 "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" (as Brian Potter, with the Proclaimers and Andy Pipkin) [17] 1 7 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)[18] 1 6 7
2011 "I Know Him So Well" (with Susan Boyle) 1 11

^1 As Geraldine McQueen.



List of television performances
Year Title Role Notes
1996 New Voices Getaway driver Episode: "Two Minutes"
1997 Coronation Street Shopfitter Episode dated 17 November 1997
1998 Barking Various roles 1 episode
1998 Comedy Lab Various roles Episode: "The Services"
1998 Let's Get Quizzical Himself
1999 Butterfly Collectors Ronnie TV movie
2000 That Peter Kay Thing Various roles 6 episodes
2001–2002 Phoenix Nights Various roles 12 episodes
2002 Linda Green Eddie Episode: "No Friends"
2003 Comic Relief 2003: The Big Hair Do Brian Potter
2004 Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere Various roles 6 episodes
2004 Coronation Street Eric Gartside Episode dated 30 January 2004
2005 The Catherine Tate Show Tommy Episode: "Large Breasted Doctor"
2006 Doctor Who Victor Kennedy Episode: "Love & Monsters"
2006 Little Britain Abroad Part 1 and Part 2
2007–2010 Roary the Racing Car Big Chris / Tin Top Voice over
2008 Britain's Got the Pop Factor... and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice Geraldine McQueen
2008 Take That Come To Town Geraldine McQueen TV movie
2009 Peter Kay: Raider of The Pop Charts Himself 2-part documentary
2010 Brit Awards 2010 Himself - Host TV award show
2012 Peter Kay: In Converstation Himself TV special
2013 Comic Relief 2013 Himself Telethon
2015–2018 Peter Kay's Car Share John Redmond 12 episodes
2015 Cradle to Grave Fred Baker 8 episodes
2015 Peter Kay: 20 Years of Funny Himself Documentary
2016–2018 Peter Kay's Comedy Shuffle Himself 19 episodes
2017 Let It Shine Himself - Guest Judge Series 1, Episode 10
2017 Inside No. 9 Neil Episode: "Private View"

Live arena tours

Year Title Notes
2002-2003 Mum Wants a Bungalow Tour First solo tour, 89 dates
2010-2011 The Tour That Doesn't Tour Tour...Now On Tour 122 dates (98 in England, 14 in Ireland, 5 in Scotland, 5 in Wales)
2018-2019 Have Gags, Will Travel 90 dates, tour cancelled


List of film performances
Year Title Role Notes Source
2000 Going Off Big Time Flipper
2001 Blow Dry Cyril the Barman
2002 Roddy Smythe Investigates... Tommy Doyle
2002 24 Hour Party People Don Tonay
2002 Last Rumba in Rochdale Dad: Voice
2005 The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse Simon Pig
2005 Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit PC Mackintosh [19]
2005 Max and Paddy's Power of Two Max

Stand-up DVDs

In December 2011, it was reported that Kay had sold over 10 million DVDs, a UK record for a comedian and more than the combined sales of best selling films Avatar and Mamma Mia!.[20]

TitleRelease dateAge rating
Live At The Top Of The Tower22 November 200015
Live At The Bolton Albert Halls10 November 200315
Live At The Manchester Arena14 November 200515
Peter Kay's Special Kay17 November 200815
Live – The Tour That Didn't Tour – Tour7 November 201115
Live & Back on Nights19 November 201215


  1. McLean, Gareth (15 October 2004). "The Guardian profile: Peter Kay". The Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  2. "Peter Kay breaks record for Most tickets sold for a stand-up comedy tour". Guinness World Records. 7 September 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  3. "Comedian Peter Kay receives Salford honorary doctorate". 20 July 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  4. "10 Peter Kay facts all his fans should know". Smooth. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  5. "Laughter lines? Sure 'our' Peter Kay gets them from Tyrone". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  7. Hayward, Stephen (25 November 2017). "Peter Kay's disabled fans hit with bills up to £39 on premium rate ticket line". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  8. "Peter Kay cancels comeback comedy tour for family reasons". BBC News Online. 13 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  9. Kindon, Frances (13 December 2017). "Peter Kay cancels first tour in eight years - scrapping all 100 dates". Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  10. "Peter Kay fans charged up to 62p per min to call about ticket refunds". 14 December 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  11. "Peter Kay". Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  12. "The IoS Happy List 2009 - the 100". 19 April 2009. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  13. "The IoS Happy List 2010 - the 100". 25 April 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  14. "GOOD NIGHT VIENNA PRODUCTIONS LIMITED". Companies House. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  15. "Goodnight Vienna Productions". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  16. "Is This The Way To Amarillo by Tony Christie and Peter Kay – Music Charts". Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  17. "(i'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles by Proclaimers featuring B Potter and A Pipkin – Music Charts". Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  18. "Kay records Children in Need song". BBC News. 9 November 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  19. "Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit". Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  20. "Newsbeat – Peter Kay is the first comedian to sell 10 million DVDs". BBC. 13 December 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
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