Peter Kay: Phoenix Nights lead character was written for Bernard Manning

Comedian Peter Kay has said that he wrote his Phoenix Nights lead character for controversial stand-up Bernard Manning.

Peter was speaking to BBC Radio Manchester about his Channel 4 sitcom set in a working men’s club when he made the surprising admission that he had been hoping to cast Bernard, known for his racist and sexist jokes, in the main role of abrasive club boss Brian Potter.

However, Bernard, who died in 2007, became ill before Peter was able to sign him up, and so he ended up starring in the role he had written himself.

Peter told the station’s Ted Robbins: “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 comedian also spoke about his BBC One series Car Share, which he stars in with Sian Gibson, and said that he had worried whether audiences would warm to it.

Confirming that it would return for a new series in April, he said: “I always knew (Sian and I) could capture an element of our chemistry and I thought people would like it. I did worry whether people would relate to two people just talking in a car, but it went down better than I ever dreamed it would.”

Peter said that he was impressed by fellow comedian Sir Ken Dodd’s commitment to lengthy shows.

He said: “I’ve watched him a few times, the last time I saw him I had a good 25-minute sleep in the middle and when I woke up he was still on. He came on at 8pm and went off at 12.40am.

“I have a lot of respect for him, when he goes that will be it, there will be no-one else like him.”

Naming double act Cannon and Ball as another favourite, he said: “I am fascinated by real people who are really funny. I watched Cannon and Ball the other week and they are pin-sharp and on the ball.

“I took my children to see them and they were crying laughing, it’s timeless, they are still absolutely hilarious. Being a comedian is probably the only job apart from undertaking that isn’t age restricted.”

He went on: “It’s funny how comedy is, 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.”

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