This is one of Peter Kays first and best early work. The world gets to see this first glimpse of Brian potter and the rest of Phoenix nights. The DVD has a wide variety of sketches all equally as funny. The ice cream episode is a true classic aswell as the brilliant but underrated bingo hall episode. This I feel gives peter kat his big break and comes so natural to the multi talented comedian.
That Peter Kay Thing is a 6 part documentary, I first saw it when it first came out and re-watched some episodes recently. Released in 2000, it was one of the first times we got to witness Peter Kay on TV. In one of the episodes we get to see The Neptune Club in action which is basically like a pilot for Phoenix Nights and therefore you will see the same characters in action as you do in Phoenix Nights.
Staying true to his roots, the whole series is filmed in Bolton and laughs at numerous humorous characters and things that Bolton has to offer, many of which he came into contact with on a daily basis. Kay's disguises are hillarious in themselves but it's his talent for spotting those funny parts of people's characters and then reproducing and exaggerating them perfectly.
The funniest episode is undoubtedly "The Ice Cream Man Cometh" which I basically laugh at all the way through. This features a grouchy ice cream man and his side kick whose sales are suffering, his family has been in the business for years but he's struggling with competition from the flamboyant Signor Whippy! Another two classics are "Leonard" (the oldest paper boy in the country), a cracking look at an old man's life during his rounds in Bolton and "Eyes Down" which to some extent surely influenced Paul O Grady's show of the same name which followed some years later. This episode features the hillarious line "He bums dogs" as we see Kay as a young, surly but comical teenager! The worst episode for me is the last one - "Lonely At The Top" which features a Mick Hucknall look alike and his day to day worries. It's spot on but the character is so irritating that it annoys me a little!
This is a great little series and deserves all the praise it gets!
Peter Kay is a GENIUS, that's a fact, people may criticize him for cashing in ( some of his Stand-up DVD's contain material from OTHER Dvd's ) but I say fair play to the lad, he's the biggest name in British Comedy right now and why not milk it for all its worth.
So here we have "That Peter Kay Thing " a series of 6 Spoof Documentaries ( and one extra pilot episode ) set around Bolton, they follow the lives of various Characters, with Kay playing the lead and normally 2 or 3 other characters in the episode, some of the plotlines centre around real incidents in Kay's life with one in particular that almost moves you ( More on this later ), the series was narrated by Andrew Sachs ( with the exception of the Pilot " The Services" which was narrated by Kay and was separate from the series itself ) and alot of the characters would reappear later in Kay's more famous and successful "Phoenix Nights"
Here is a Rundown of each episode :
The Services ( Pilot Episode )
This is set in a service station just outside of Bolton, and mainly centres around the manager Pearl Hardman ( Kay ) who has aspirations of bigger things after the episode is aired on TV, it also features Matthew Kelly ( Kay ) , a miserable teenage employee who has aspirations to be an actor, we see Matthew later on in the series in " The Arena"
In the Club :
Arguably the most important of this series as it would spawn Kay's later series "Phoenix Nights" which would be hugely successful and propel Kay into superstardom, this episode also features alot of the characters that would make it into Phoenix Nights as well, including Brian Potter ( Kay ) who is running a club called the Neptune ( which is later mentioned in Phoenix Nights ) and actually at the end of the episode is shown to be able to walk ( Although this was later dropped by Kay as it didn't fit in with alot of the jokes in phoenix nights and he was later shown to be legitimately disabled ) it also features other characters who would make it into Phoenix Nights, Jerry StClair, Max and Paddy and Les Alanos.
Set in the Apollo Bingo Hall the episode follows a day in the life of the staff and patrons, including Patrick O'Neill ( Kay ) a rebellious teenager who hates his job, Tom Dale ( Kay ) an egotistical bingo caller and others, it also introduces the infamous Keith Lard ( Kay ) who has an unhealthy obsession with a certain family pet and got Peter Kay into some real trouble with a real fire safety officer in Bolton called Keith Laird who took offense
The Ice Cream Cometh:
My own personal favourite, it follows Mr Softytop ( Kay ) a grumpy and tightly wound ice cream man who is frustrated at the downturn of his business and the threat of newcomer "Senor Whippy" ( who's face is never shown, but is played by Kay ) who supplements his income by renting "adult art" from his van to local men
We see Matthew Kelly again as a newly hired steward at Manchester Arena who is excited at his new position and particularly the chance to see some big acts for free, but soon realises that the job is alot worse than he imagined and he may not get to see the acts after all.
Lonely At the Top:
My least favourite, This episode follows Mark Parc ( Kay ) who we last saw winning Talent Trek in the episode " In the Club" with his partner Cheryl Avenue but has since split with her and formed a successful solo career, and has also gained a large ego, but his career starts to take a downturn after his former partner stars in a tell all documentary of her own and paints him in a less than flattering way
This episode follows lovable eccentric Leonard ( Kay ) in the run up to him receiving an award for being the countries oldest paper boy, here we also are introduced to future comedy star Catherine Tate as Valerie, the community leader who is responsible for him getting the award, this episode is different to the others as you genuinely like Leonard and he isn't mean spirited like most of the other characters in this series, he leads a tragic life and is "everyones friend, but has no real friends" and has an awkward sense of humour but will go out of his way to help other people, this character has particular meaning as it is based on a real person Kay met ( also called Leonard ) mentioned in Kays Autobiography as someone who used to come into the petrol station kay worked in at the time who would often tell Kay about all the friends he had, however after his death in 1991 Kay was deeply upset by the lack of people at his funeral. Maybe not the funniest episode, but for me my 2nd favourite simply because of the character.
This series shows the emerging Kay's talents not only as a comedian, but his versatility as a Comedy Actor, its done well and has the same feel to those Documentaries you see on TV and while I prefer Phoenix Nights, this is almost on the same level and probably better than " Max and Paddy's road to nowhere" and is even now 9 years after it was originally aired on channel 4, still one of the funniest comedy series to have been seen on British TV in the last 20 years.
I hope he returns to TV soon with either a returning Phoenix Nights ( He has claimed to have written a 3rd series ) or something else, I certainly hope so as Kay is arguable the funniest man on the planet right now
Far funnier than Phoenix Nights, but sadly overlooked, this series of faux-documentaries all set in-and-around Bolton is still the funniest thing Peter Kaye has ever done! If you've ever read Kaye's autobiography, a few of the characters (most of whom are played by Kaye) and scenarios should be more than a little familiar to you. Some of the funniest bits are the 'next week...' previews for fictional future episodes shown at the final credits.
PILOT: THE SERVICES: In my mind, the funniest of the lot. The documentary follows manager at Bolton Motorway Services, Pearl, (who hopes the documentary might lead on to better things, just like they did for Maureen from Driving School) and lacky Matthew Kelly (a drama student who later stars in the Arena episode), as they are thrown into a panic at the prospect of a visit from Bob Carolgees. Meanwhile Paul LeRoy tries to launch Chorley FM (Coming in Your Ears) from the car park while Alan McClarty tries to launch ARC rescue after being fired from the RAC in somewhat regrettable circumstances.
IN THE CLUB: Later the basis for Phoenix Nights, Max and Paddy, Les Alanos, Brian and Jerry all feature as the 'documentary' follows the Talent Trek competition. Paul LeRoy features again, as does Marc Park from the 'Lonely at the Top' episode.
EYES DOWN: Follows Patrick, a reluctant slacker who works at a bingo hall, and Keith Lard, an over-zealous fire inspector who has an unhealthy interest in dogs. Kaye later paid damages to real-life Bolton fire inspector Keith Laird, though he insists that he only stole the name.
THE ICE CREAM MAN COMETH: Set in the cut-throat Bolton ice cream business, Mr Softytop is forced to start selling porn videos on the side as he fights a bitter war against rival Signor Whippy.
THE ARENA: Follows Matthew Kelly from the Services as he is inducted as a steward at Manchester MEN Arena by Chris and Sean of Live Sec. Also follows wild-west obsessed coach driver Johnny Utah (also from The Services episode) and Duncan, the socially inept St John's Ambulanceman.
LEONARD: Follows Leonard de Tompkinson, a lonely eccentric, as he prepares to receive an award for being Britain's Oldest Paperboy. Perhaps the most bittersweet of the episodes.
LONELY AT THE TOP: Follows the rise and fall of Marc Park from the In the Club episode as he launches a pop career with his manager, who also runs the local taxi company.
This is a simply brilliant series, it is far superior to Phoenix Nights an anyone who likes Peter Kaye should own a copy
This was a series on TV that formed the launching pad for the really successful nad quite brilliant Pheonix Nights which in turn developed Max and Paddy. The series was made up of six episodes eac of which was a fake fly on the wall style documentary that featured the comic talents of Peter Kay as he played a host of characters in one off shows.
The first episode introduces you to Peter Kay the wheel chair bound owner of the Pheonix Club. This is where you meet many of the characters who will appear in the full series and it is by far the best of the six hence the reason it went on to a full series. It focuses on the final of Talent Trek and is very funny indeed.
The second episode features Keth Lard who also made an appearence on one episode of Pheonix Nights, he is the council fire and safety officer who fancies dogs. This episode is based upon a bingo club and Kay also plays tyhe bingo caller Kay Religion which is a super name.
The third episode lifts the lid Kay style on the ice cream business and a war between two rival ice cream sellers and this one ws a bit disappointing although it did have some wonderfully politically incorrect lines.
Episode 4 was also rather poor and was set in the Men Arena in Manchester, Kay plays one of the security guards and while it has certain similarities to the Max and Paddy sketches it was by far the worst episode of the series.
The fifth episode was very funny as it featured a 60 year old paper boy called Leonard who after 30 years of delivering papers was getting an award from the council and the fly on the wal style works really well as it looks into the life of Leonard. Some of the comedy writing in this is excellent with some great lines from Kay who dominated the camera in this episode.
The final episode features Mark Park a club singer who was seen on Talent Trek and this looks at his career and the ups and downs. It is good and he features in Pheonix Nights as well. The humour in this is not as well developed and is a bit too sex obsessed but it is still worth watching.
Overall this is an interesting series and well woirth seeing if it is ever shown again or get it on DVD.
6 episodes, ice cream man cometh, the arena, leonard, lonely at the top (the Mark Park Story)
"That Peter Kay /Thing" was one of the first fly on the wall mockumentorys, following fictional characters through their hilarious though fictional adventures. each of the 6 episodes started by a cheesy organ solo, tacky mid nineties opening and Little Britainesque Voiceover
EPISODE 1: IN THE CLUB
the first of these is "in the club" the birth of the phoenix club, and the first sight of Brian Potter, wheelchair bound club owner. from the very first words "we are talking, hygenic, cheap, sanitary protection" to Potters classic quips "no need for that, language, please, got a photograph of the wife in the wallet " you won't stop laughing, this DVD is a must for any Kay fans, just for this episode. the first ever mentions of Den Perry, Brian Potter and the phoenix Gang (including Max the Bouncer, star of Max and Paddys Road To Nowhere)
This episode is the talent trek final in the phoenix club, acts including Bolton and Park Avenue, and one half of "Coffee and Cream" Kay plays Mark Parc, of "Park Avenue" Potter, and Max. Also this episode reveals the secret behind the naming of "Les Alanus" "Les, Alan, Us, its not real spanish!" and the first ever Jerry "The saint" StClair singalong!
EPISODE 2: BINGO
the introduction of Keith Lard, Animal lover. enough said for true Peter Kay fans, for those uninitiated to the Kay Religion, Keith Lard is a fire safety officer, with an unhealthy interest with canines. Kay also plays the young bingo caller, with classic KAy comedy "what's got 90 balls and screws old ladies? Bingo." and an anecdote which brings out the Standup Kay you may have seen in "Bolton Albert Halls"
Bingo Caller: "other night i was up here, collecting glasses, as you please, down there some woman had some kind of a fit or something, right in middle of a game, on her back and on her arse, eyes down, shes lying there, and everyone carried on playing,noone moved, they darent! no what i mean? cos its bingo, tom carried on calling "6 and 2, 62" oh i cant do his voice, right, shouts for a supervisor, she comes running over, gets this woman in the recovery position, right, but everyone carries on playing, nobody moved, you know what i mean? unbelievable, so everyone carries on playing, tom shouts for another supervisor to come over, and janice comes over, to help her husband, because hes doing 2 books, he's doing his own, and his wifes, and he can't manage.. "
best part, of this episode at least... well maybe behind Tom Dales warmup, and of course the entire Keith Lard set. but you have to buy the DVD for that one ; ) one of the best in the series,
EPISODE 3: THE ICE CREAM MAN COMETH
this episode is the camera crew following Mr Softee, the ice cream man caught in the middle of the "ice cream gang war" with his big rival. senor whippy, will the new icecream man prove too much for softy?
"No! move, im in hot pursuit, move, ill run yer over!! "
Mr Softee to a lollipop lady and small children.
"you stupid set of B@@@@@ds, thats what you are, you stupid B@@@@@ds"
Mr Softee to the council.
EPISODE 4: THE ARENA
less said about this one, the better... set in the MEN arena, the only upside to this episode is the small role of Utah, the texan bus driver. other than that, two guards discuss anal probing.. prison.. boxing.. other random rubbish. and for some unknown reason Edina "concert virgin"and friend going to her first concert and getting drunk. and "mohamed" Kay, hapless security guard... moving on.
EPISODE 5: LEONARD
By far one of the better episodes, sure to make anyone in the family laugh. Leonard de Tomkinson, paper boy for 30 years in bolton, is recieving a bolton community award, the highlight of his sheltered life, despite the appearance of a 60 something he still has the heart, and mind of a 12 year old boy. his Angina (Classic Kay Reference) stops him working other than his paperround, and he has lived alone for 23 years since his mother died. his life story takes minutes to tell to the camera crew, highlights including him winning a radio, painting a picture, his funny nun "boxing for god" talking to his "pen pal" Walter, the mass murderer "he had a blackout in 1974, when he came out in 1978 23 people were unaccounted for." This is also the second reference of "a little girl in a coma since halloween" ~(See In The Club)
Quote: "what was the drummer called in the muppet show?" "Animal" "Animal! thats it.. i can get that sent off now.. " Leonard doing the crossword.
EPISODE 6: TROUBLE AT THE TOP
Marc Parks second outing,
This episode follows Marks life as a nobody, rise to fame winning "talent trek 99", going solo, and his "top 6 single", and resulting fall from fame.
watch out for "BS entertainment, a subsiduary of BS taxi's"
also watch out how he changed inexplicably.. from a Bolton fan in "in the club" to a Manchester united fan (yey from me, man u till i die but for anyone near bolton.. turning him to an instant villain.)
"i used to have em hangin off my C@@k"
Mark on Women
"like a human Cup Tree"
about his penis...
"Im not deformed though.."
Still on penis'
"PUM, pure unadulterated magic"
Mark, on losing cheryl.
"i love mornings, their the best time for me, i can take the dog for a walk, and not have to worry about being recognised..." Mark Park, egocentric rock "star"
Overall this is an awesome Dvd, Peter kay at his true best, whether your a fan or not, give this one a try. available for around 13.99 (try kelkoo.co.uk) this is the show that single handedly launched Phoenix Nights and Max And Paddys Road To Nowhere
'That Peter Kay Thing' not only launched the career of one of the UK's most popular comedians but was also the forerunner to the successful 'Phoenix Nights'.
That Peter Kay Thing is a series of six pilot episodes, each one focusing on different and eccentric characters in and around Bolton. The DVD also includes a seperate feature disc including 'The Services'.
Peter Kay plays a total of 15 characters, interacting with other actors and 'real' members of the public.
The Six Different pilot episodes are simply structured and focused around topics such as Mr Softee the Ice Cream Man, Leonard The Oldest Paper boy in Britain, Marc Park, Manchester Arena, A Bingo Hall, Phoenix Club Owner Brian Potter and Max the Doorman.
The first episode, 'In The Club', introduces us to one of Peters most popular characters Brian Potter (AKA 'Ironside') ‘In the Club’ shows us the trials of Cabaret show-band ‘Park Avenue’
The Apollo Bingo Hall is the setting for with staff problems and fire drills being part of daily operations.
Episode Three is the Episode where Mr Softee Makes his entrance we are exposed to the real dog-eat-dog nature of the Ice Cream business and the unconventional methods of ‘Mr Softee' as he gears up for the 'battle of the Ice Cream men' at the Annual Bolton Show
The Arena’ features Peter Kay in character as the other half of Live Sec’ security guard service, and as the crazy coach tour guide for lucky visitors to The Manchester Arena.
Peter plays Leonard, Britain’s oldest serving paperboy, there is a Hilarious sketch as the newspaper veteran gears up to receive the Bolton Community Award.
‘Lonely at the Top’ is episode 6 and follows Marc Park as he makes his first pop video.
The double disc set contains the entire series along with a bonus disc which contains unseen footage including deleted scenes, trailers, the original pilot episode ‘The Services’, and a commentary by Peter Kay, Patrick McGuinness and Craig Cash (The Royle Family, Mrs Merton)
In ‘The Services’, we follow a day in the life of Pearl, manageress at Bolton’s local motorway service station. This is an excellent extra, this features many of the characters that have ended up in the main series today. The Services first piloted in 1998.
Anyone who Enjoy's Peter Kays' dry, northern excellent sense of humour will enjoy watching this DVD over and Over again. That Peter Kay Thing is a must have for true Peter Kay fans with classic characters and captivating comedy moments.
Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights: Series 1 DVD Welcome to the Phoenix Club. Phoenix Nights, created by and starring Bolton comic Peter Kay (the one in the John Smith beer adverts) is surely one of the finest television comedy series of recent years. Often mentioned in the same breath as The Office, I think this is a far superior work which, if aired on the BBC instead of Channel 4, would have made Ricky Gervais look like an also-ran. I came to Phoenix Nights late, only watching series two on television last summer. After laughing so much that I couldn't breathe, I wanted to know more about the lovingly portrayed characters. I bought the DVD of the first series in October. THE PLOT 'Clubland Will Never Die' Brian Potter (Kay) is determined to make a success of his third northern nightclub, The Phoenix Club (the first flooded and the second had dodgy fairy lights). Throughout the six episodes of series one, we get to know more about him and his loyal staff as they compete for punters with arch rival, Den Perry, who runs The Banana Grove. THE CHARACTERS Brian Potter is the wheelchair-bound owner of The Phoenix Club. An entrepreneur who will try out any idea if it means his club will succeed, Potter's endeavours rarely end up as planned, whether it is Robot Wars in his precious Pennine Suite or an Alternative Comedy Night. Malapropisms abound 'Let's get this place sh*t-shaped ... Paddy and Max are the likeable but hapless bouncers who guard the doors for a living. Max is also played by Kay, although you would swear it was another actor because the character is so distinctly different. Max and Paddy are somewhat intellectually challenged. student at door: 'Do you take NUS?' Max:'I don't take none of that s**t love, and neither will you if you know what's good for you. My body's a temple!' Patrick McGuiness, who plays Paddy, is Kay's
best friend from school in real life, whose brooding good looks allow him a covert love interest in the daughter of one of the club barmaids . Jerry (The Saint) St Clair is the club compere and singer who has a repertoire of cheesy songs and the jackets to match. Dave Spikey gives a wonderfully sympathetic performance as this character who is a practising hypochondriac. Is his irritable bowel really something more serious? Brian Potter:'You're a bloody hyperdermic Jerry'. The actor lost out to that irritating elder son from My Family in a recent awards ceremony - go figure. Ray Von is the club DJ who has a background as an electrician (he used to work in a fairground). Always ready to turn his hand to emergency lighting, he uses anything he can find off the street, literally. Look out for traffic lights as part of his disco rig. Although these are the main characters, the rest of the staff at the club, including the backing band and the supporting players, create a truly ensemble piece of work. THE WRITING Phoenix nights is written by Peter Kay, Dave Spikey and Neil Fitzmaurice (Ray Von). A great strength of the writing is how beautifully observed the characters are. Kay's roots are in stand up comedy, where his routines tell of childhood visits to northern clubs with his parents. Parodying these characters seems second nature to him. There is a gentle side to the writing, that's not to say it falls in to the trap of safe, middle class sitcoms like the appalling Vicar of Dibley. Indeed, there are times when the writers are decidedly dangerous; 'Is it me, or do all pensioners stink of p*ss?' from a club comedian to an audience of pensioners, or 'How far away are they?'to a group of dwarves tipping out from a Bolton supporters coach. A racist folk group who sing 'Send the b*ggers back' rears its ugly head, and a rather vocal car alarm that warns
9;Get back you b*stard, I'll break your legs!' Whilst the humour is achingly funny in places, thankfully there is no laughter backing track. It would spoil your enjoyment of the storylines if I analysed each of the six episodes. My favourite, though, is episode three which includes a hopeless psychic turn, Clinton Baptiste: 'Is there a John in the audience?' Running through this episode is the threat of the club being closed down because of fire regulations. Keith Lard, the fire safety officer with an alleged unhealthy interest in dogs, is played by Kay, who again shows his amazing versatility in creating and playing different characters. One of the many good things about this DVD is that all six episodes can be watched back to back to get the full benefit of the subtlety of the writing. For example, the baldy bouncer jibe Max continually makes to Paddy, or Paddy's long running denial of his relationship with Mary. This linking of episodes is a very strong feature and continues with other great ideas, such as Armchair Super Store (ASS), a cringeworthy send up of those awful home shopping programmes, which we catch on the club TV most episodes. Max eventually sends off for a diver's watch he has seen advertised a few weeks back, and on duty one night exclaims 'S**t! I've run out of oxygen'. Every programme also ends with Potter and the staff auditioning some truly dire club acts: an escapologist who can't escape, a juggler who can't juggle, a geriatric dancing couple. This last act had the staff cracking up for real - that couldn't have been acting. USE OF MUSIC The use of great songs on the soundtrack is another masterful stroke of Kay's which I love. He juxtaposes upbeat, up tempo hits with tragic scenes to great ironic effect. For example, the first episode opens with Potter on his way to the club in his electric chair through a Bolton street with a menac
ing grey s ky above, to the tune of 'The Only Way Is Up' by Yaz. In the Robot Wars episode, which attracts only two entries and an audience of not much more, Paddy and Max enter the arena with their creation, to Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'Two Tribes'. Keith Lard (fire safety officer) wonderfully misinterprets the lyrics of Disco Inferno. Burn baby burn, burn that mother down - "Another child orphan". At the start of the final episode, Jerry is seen bounding down the steps of the hospital to the big band swing number 'Opus One', having been given the 'all clear'. When he reaches the club we see that in fact the song is being played by a band rehearsing there. I wonder if this is Kay's homage to that great scene in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles where Cleavon Little rides across the desert to a big band number only to stumble on the Count Basie Orchestra playing it. There are plenty of musical nuances that you are in danger of missing, such as Jerry having his rectal examination with 'The Whole of the Moon' playing on a background radio. I could go on, but please, do yourself a favour and buy this DVD! THE EXTRAS You are spoilt for choice with the extras, and whilst you are deciding which to click on, there is a blissfully mellow northern soul arrangement of the theme tune playing in the background. 1) Commentary The writers/actors provide a commentary to each episode which is both insightful and amusing. What comes across very strongly is the amount of care and pride they have taken with the detail in every scene. Here are just a selection of facts you can glean from the commentary: Punters in the club consist to a large degree of aunts, uncles, grandparents and various other relatives of the cast! Their reaction shots are for the most part genuine, never better used I think than when Ray Von puts on a
painfully loud hard garage mix for this geriatric audience. The look of disgust on their faces is a joy to see, and several of them get up and leave the room in protest. The theme tune is a simple melody played on a xylophone. This was very much a hastily composed afterthought, as they didn't have one the night before transmission. One scene, where Max the bouncer has a slapstick moment running in to a door that is closed, turns out to have been an honest mistake by Kay, and he cracked some ribs in the process! 2) Out-takes Episode by episode corpsing on view here. Plenty of foul mouths as well, but if you are easily offended there is a swearing on/off option. Be surprised at what a high pitched laugh Kay has, and the amount of times they had to shoot some scenes. 3) Deleted Scenes Stuff that ended up on the cutting room floor. 4) 'One Man and his Horse' Documentary Learn how the Wild West theme night had a drunken horse on the premises. WEAKNESSES In order to write a balanced review, I had to rack my brains to think of the faults in this quality programme. I suppose if you are ultra fussy, you could argue that there are not enough strong female roles. But Potter's love interest features prominently in a complete episode. The women who work in the club also have a strong presence collectively. Just about the only other fault I could put my finger on is the way Potter's disability is handled. There were times when I was laughing at his wheelchair predicament, for example when he was playing paintball with his girlfriend and she was shooting at his chest. Of course, being in a wheelchair meant he was a sitting duck and took a complete pounding, which was so funny to watch. Some may feel a little uncomfortable about finding humour in this - for me it's part of the appeal of the writers' willingness to escape from the safe, formulaic stuff
and explore the non PC territories which too many other bland sitcoms avoid. THE VERDICT The DVD format is the perfect medium for this series because sometimes you need to re-run scenes several times just to make sure you catch all the jokes, both verbal and visual. Extras on the DVD enhance it beautifully and mean you are getting incredible value for your money. Cheapest online price at the time of writing is £12.99 with www.splashdvd.com In my reverse journey of discovery on Peter Kay, I have since seen 'That Peter Kay Thing' on television. This was made before Phoenix Nights and is a dress rehearsal for many of the characters. It is a little ragged and lacks polish, although it does include Kay 'dragging up' for one of his roles. This does not work for me at all and, mercifully, he resists the temptation to play a woman in both series of Phoenix Nights. I keep checking for a DVD release date on the second series, as I thought it was even funnier than the first. Jerry St Clair's haunting rendition in the supermarket of Black Bin Bags to the tune of 'Men in Black' is one of the many high points. Peter Kay is indeed a lucky b******. As he admits in the commentary, he gets to make a living by working ten minutes down the road from where he lives, with his friends from school and surrounded by his relatives as extras. I heartily recommend this DVD to anyone, as you may be able to tell from this review. It is one of those rare DVDs that you never tire of watching.
That Peter Kay Thing was an unusual show to watch - on the basis of Peter Kay alone. I didn't find him at all funny before watching this series; whilst I still don't think he's a genius, he has a great ear for dialogue. Each of the episodes was based around one particular venue or character in Bolton. I've never been to Bolton, but some of the characters were just so well crafted, you laughed at lines that weren't even gags. As is the case with the best comedy, the humour is character-driven rather than with jokes (see Fawlty, Fools & Horses, Larry Sanders), and this was the case with this series. No laughter track, and a very meandering plot. Superb. Best moments? A band called Park Avenue (Marc Park & Cheryl Avenue), and a club owner refering to a photocopier as a "photostat". You obviously had to see it!