Phoenix Nights (Channel 4, 2001-2002)
The first time I remember watching Peter Kay on TV was in the late-90s on BBC2’s The Sunday Show when he used to do a feature about his favourite old TV shows. He then went on to get his own comedy sketch show on Channel 4 called That Peter Kay Thing where he played a variety of characters but this passed me by, although it did get good reviews and it seemed that his career was on the up, so when he launched his next comedy series which this time was a sitcom called Phoenix Nights, I thought to myself I remember that name from somewhere so I’d give it a try.
Kay plays two characters in the show, Brian Potter, who owns the terrible Phoenix nightclub in Bolton, and Max the doorman. Also featuring is the singer Jerry St. Clair (played by Dave Spikey, and Kay and Spikey had previously collaborated on ITV’s game show Chain Letters!), and Ray the DJ. Everything they plan seems to go wrong, including poorly attended theme nights and having a nightmare with a bouncy castle.
Another thing that I remember about the show was when at the end of most episodes, an act would audition to perform at the club, and most of them were really terrible. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the Elvis impersonator, that was an experience. Because of all these elements, the show became very popular, partly because it featured a great range of characters and catchphrases, and it went on to win some awards. And Jim Bowen appeared in an episode, marvellous!
The DVD also features some great extras. I remember watching the outtakes and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at anything so much. I remember that I got the DVD for Christmas one year and I watched it a few days later. I don’t know if I was hungover or if I was full of the festive spirit, but I just couldn’t stop laughing while watching them and it was all just so odd. There was also a book released which contained all the scripts from the series which was a great read, plus a few extras including some pictures of the cast.
Phoenix Nights ran for two series, and in 2004 the Max And Paddy characters were given their own Channel 4 spin-off sitcom called Road To Nowhere but this was a little less successful. After this Peter has gone on to further success by doing a variety of things including performing sell-out tours, having a huge hit with “Is This The Way To Amarillo”, and in more recent years he has featured in the well received sitcoms Cradle To Grave and Car Share, but Phoenix Nights (sponsored by Chorley FM) will always be one of his highlights for me.