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Neil Fitzmaurice Ray Von Brian Potter Peter Kay
Ray Von (left) and Brian Potter (right)

Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights is one of the best-loved and most critically acclaimed comedies of the last 20 years, and I think I can speak for everybody when I say that we just couldn’t imagine anyone but the comedian Kay himself playing the part of club owner Brian Potter. Well, it was almost very different.

Peter Kay revealed recently that when he wrote the part, his original first choice to play the role of Potter was none other than controversial comedian Bernard Manning. I know – I couldn’t believe it either.

Kay said he thought the working-man’s club veteran Manning, who died in 2007, would have been ‘perfect casting’ for the role – but as the older comic was poor health, Kay took the role himself.

At first glance it seems like a strange idea. But the more one thinks about it, the more it makes sense. Don’t get me wrong, almost all of Bernard Manning’s topics of comedy were completely prehistoric and unforgivable. However, underneath that mean and controversial style there was most certainly, mechanically and technically speaking, a very good comedian.

Manning had incredible timing and was a natural storyteller, and these were the talents that compelled Kay to tailor the role for the comedian, who was a former club owner himself.

Speaking on the subject, Kay said himself that: “Bernard Manning is controversial but he had incredible timing.

“I wrote the character of Brian Potter in Phoenix Nights for him to play but, unfortunately, he was too poorly to do it. I thought it would have been perfect casting but it didn’t happen.”

The Bolton comedian also said that the new series of Car Share starts in April, adding: “I am very happy with it, hopefully people will enjoy it, it’s all very normal and down-to-earth humour.”

Kay also said that the new series of Car Share starts in April, adding: “I am very happy with it, hopefully people will enjoy it, it’s all very normal and down-to-earth humour.”

He also shared his opinion of longevity in comedy; the key to which he believes is being mainstream.

“It’s funny how comedy is,’ he said. ‘You look at people like French and Saunders, when they started out they were very alternative. A lot of those alternative comedians have ended up being mainstream. They know that longevity is about being mainstream.”