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That Peter Kay Thing was a series of six spoof documentaries shown on Channel 4 in January and February 2000. Set in and around Boltonmarker, these followed the lives of different characters and starred Peter Kay as the subject of each documentary. All of the episodes displayed Kay's penchant for nostalgic humour and unsympathetic lead characters. The series was narrated by Andrew Sachs. Many of the plot lines were based around actual events from Kay's life. At least six of the characters appear in the spin-off series Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights.

Memorable Characters

  • Brian Potter (Kay) - Owner of working men's club "The Neptune". He lost the use of his legs when his former club flooded and, in trying to rescue the night's takings, was trapped behind the fruit machine and was left in a coma. He is notoriously tight fisted. It is suggested that he can actually walk, as at the end of the episode he is seen to stand whilst remonstrating with a group of Firemen. The idea that he was not really disabled was carried on in episode four of the first series of Phoenix Nights when he finds out that Beverly (the woman he was seeing) was secretely investigating him for fraudulent disability claims.
  • Max and Paddy (Kay and Patrick McGuinness) - Two incompetent bouncers at the Neptune Club.
  • Jerry St. Clair (Dave Spikey) - Part time builder and compère at the Neptune Club. He won Talent Trek in 1992. His act consists of dubious singing and poor jokes.
  • Les Alanos - The Neptune's house band, Les (Toby Foster) and Alan (Mark Jackson). Les originally worked with Alan's father before he left to form the tribute band Right Said Frank. Les claims that "Les Alanos" only sounds Spanish, but that it is in fact their names cunningly disguised "Les, Alan, Us!". In the later series Phoenix Nights, Jackson was replaced by Steve Edge as Alan.
  • Paul le Roy, often mis-pronounced Leroy (Kay) - A local disc jockey for the radio station Chorley FM. He is obsessed with the music of the 1980s. He sports a mullet and has a long-suffering wife.
  • Keith Lard (Kay) - An overly zealous local fire safety inspector who, it is alleged, interferes with dogs.
  • Patrick O'Neil (Kay) - A cheeky employee at the Apollo Bingo Hall, who along with his friend "Sparky" (so called because he was struck by lightning), causes havoc in the Apollo. Kay had actually worked in a Bolton bingo hall and admits that of the Patrick O'Neil is the only character in the series actually based on him.
  • Tom Dale (Kay) - A Liverpudlianmarker bingo caller known for his bizarre pre-show preparations and his catchphrase "Let's tickle those balls." He is based on Roy Diamond, a bingo caller Peter worked with.
  • Rose and Theresa (Kay and Beatrice Kelley) - Two middle aged bingo fans who assume anyone who wins is sleeping with caller Tom Dale. Theresa believes bingo has it all: "Drama, glamour, tension, chips, fish, peas and a drink for £2.49".
  • Mr. Softytop, aka Robert Edge (Kay) - a third generation ice-cream man, who hates children. He resembles a blonde Elvis and, to make up for his dwindling sales, he keeps the raspberry sauce chained to the counter and rents pornographic videos from his van. He has a very short temper and he opts to leave the ice cream trade after one final tantrum, focusing on his videos.
  • Signor Whippy (Kay) An illegal immigrant from Barnsley and is threatened to have his nose bitten off by Mr. Softytop if he ever sells ice cream on his patch again. To Softytop's anger, Whippy regularly wins the war for customers but is later arrested by police and deported.
  • Darren Bramwell (Kristian Tiffany) - A college student who works for Mr. Softytop on weekends. He is slightly slow, but seems more down-to-earth than Softy. After Softy quits the ice cream trade, Darren takes over his van.
  • Matthew Kelly (Kay) - An aspiring Irishmarker actor who is unhappily stuck in several part-time jobs, notably as a cleaner in The Services and a steward in The Arena. In 'The Arena' he accidentally gets the name badge 'Mohammed' from Shaun and cnnot change it as he is 'no Emmanuel'. He has starred as Mr Bumble in 'Oliver Twist', a PIMP in Band of Gold and a burns victim in 'Casualty'. Matthew is often confused with the TV personality Matthew Kelly. His lack of interest in his day jobs often gets him into trouble with his employers.
  • Johnny Utah, aka Craig (Kay) - A surly Wild West obsessive, who works as a coach driver. He dislikes the passengers and is not afraid to leave them behind. Edina mistakenly calls him 'Memphis'. He worries that someone might damage his "Trigger Finger". He was arrested for speeding and carrying a replica revolver in the episode "The Arena".
  • Duncan Beach (Daniel Kitson) - A St. John Ambulance volunteer who is devoted to his job, but treated with contempt by those he treats. Without his job, he would be stuck at home with his mum and "her fella". His hardest job was when the Pope visited Heaton Parkmarker. He was forced to question his faith in God, as he felt he could have made it a bit cooler and provided better seating arrangements.
  • Shaun (Neil Fitzmaurice)- One half of the Security Group Live Sec. The former prison worker claims to have seen Cher's backside. They have worked with Madonna, U2 and Cast.
  • Chris (Peter Kay)- The other half of the security group Live Sec. He was a boxer in his younger days and boxed at Flyweight. They know their presentation so well that often they end up talking over the top of each other. Teaching the "Magic Thumb trick" is one of the highlights of their routine.
  • Leonard de Tomkinson (Kay) - An elderly, kindly local eccentric. Due to angina he is unable to work, but has a paper round and is, therefore, Britain's oldest paperboy. He lived with his mother until her death and is very religious, feeling uncomfortable at hearing mild swearing. Every day he carries a crucifix into the town centre and preaches the word of God. He is well liked but, it is suggested, has no real friends - though he does write to an American on death row. Leonard will go out of his way to help others but his over-friendly nature and rather awkward sense of humour are not appreciated by everyone. He is based on a real man (also called Leonard) who used to visit the Esso petrol station in his Reliant Robin where Kay worked. The real Leonard would often tell Kay about all the friends he had, yet, when he died in 1991, Kay was upset by the lack of people at his funeral.
  • Marc Park (Kay) - An aspiring pop star, and former greengrocer, who looks like Mick Hucknall. He has a dog called Lady. In the first episode he was a member of Park Avenue with Cheryl Avenue, and won Talent Trek at the Neptune Club, but he then controversially went solo. The final episode, Lonely at the Top, charts his fall from fame, as Cheryl rises to the top instead. He also appears to have had a nose job.
  • Pearl Hardman (Kay) - A would-be career woman who manages a Bolton service station. She is one of Kay's "Nosey bitches" and lords her power over the uninterested teenagers she employs.
  • Alan McClarty (Kay)- A Scottish mechanic who has worked for the RAC before his wife left him and he had a nervous breakdown. He now runs his own breakdown company, "ARC". He is still an unstable character.

Running Themes

  • Steve Edge appears in several of the episodes as Alan, a character on the edge of the series which captures moments of his life. He rarely has more than one line an episode. Kay admits that joke didn't really work, as the appearances were too low key to be noticed by viewers over several weeks. Edge appeared in Phoenix Nights as a character also called Alan.
  • Every episode passes with at least a passing reference to Bob Carolgees. Carolgees actually appeared in the episode "Leonard" giving Leonard his award.
  • Every episode makes reference to a young girl who has been in a coma since Halloween.
  • Characters refer to the Solero ice lolly in most episodes.

Episode list

The Services (Pilot Episode)

Set in a service station just outside Bolton, made for Channel Four's Comedy Lab. The episode charts a day in the life of troublesome manager Pearl Hardman, miserable teenage employee Matthew Kelly, and the other employees, and the panic that ensues when they discover that Bob Carolgees may be stopping at the station.

Also featuring: Paul le Roy, Johnny Utah, Alan McClarty.

In the Club

Set in the Neptune Club - a working men's establishment. It follows the annual "Talent Trek" competition. The first episode is notable as it was the basis for Kay's next project Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights. It features many of the characters who were to go on to be a part of the series - Brian Potter, Jerry St. Clair, bouncers Max and Paddy and house band Les Alanos. The episode ends with the club burning down, setting the scene for Potter to rebuild and open the Phoenix Club.

Also features: Paul le Roy, Marc Park, Cheryl Avenue.

Eyes Down

Set in the Apollo Bingo Hall, the episode charts a day in the life of the customers and employees, including Patrick O'Neil - a rebellious teenage employee who would rather not be there, his friends Yvonne and Sparky, Tom Dale - a self-obsessed bingo caller, Ron Hibbert - the owner (who is afraid of Tom) and the various old women who inhabit the club.

Also features: Keith Lard, Rose and Theresa.

The Ice Cream Man Cometh

This episode revolved around the fading popularity of local ice cream vans. The subject of the documentary is Mr Softytop, a grumpy ice-cream man who verbally assaults his customers and Darren, his assistant. His attempts to boost sales include inventing the "Millennium Cone", selling at the site of road accidents and renting pornography, films include: Shaving Private Ryan, Beverly Hills Cock, Look Who's Porkin and the Phantom Penis. (A real sex shop in Bolton is called Softy's Hard Stuff). To make matters worse he has to compete with a new competitor, Signór Wippy.

Also features: Leonard, Paul le Roy, Alan McClarty.

The Arena

Set in the Manchester Evening News Arenamarker, this episode follows the staff and customers preparing for a Super Sounds of the Seventies Night. Matthew Kelly is employed as a steward - a job he is thoroughly useless at, and receives much stick from Chris and Sean from Live Sec. Kelly is annoyed when, instead of stewarding the concert, he is left in charge of the car park.

Also featuring: Duncan Beach, Johnny Utah.


The episode follows lovable local eccentric Leonard in the run-up to him receiving an award for being Britain's oldest paper boy. Leonard introduces the other local eccentrics including The Duke, who walks around Bolton drawing his fingers from his pockets as if they were guns and shouting "John Wayne!" and Carl who waves at cars. Catherine Tate stars as Valerie the community leader. The episode is more melancholy than the others, as Leonard is one of the few truly likable characters, but he leads a tragic life. His aunt claims he was coddled by his mother, and, as much as he is everybody's friend, he has no real friends. This does not quash Leonard's spirit and he remains upbeat throughout.

Lonely at the Top

A documentary following the rise and fall of Marc Park, 12 months after he won "Talent Trek" in the first episode, "In the Club." After rising to fame as part of pop group Park Avenue in the first documentary, Park ditched partner Cheryl Avenue when she became pregnant. After two or three hits, he found he was being portrayed as a villain in another documentary focusing on Cheryl's struggles as an unemployed single mother. Eventually he returns to his job as a greengrocer whilst Cheryl becomes a star, much to the chargin of Marc.

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