The Bolton News: Peter Kay book cover

Peter has given The Bolton News permission to feature extracts from Saturday Night Peter.

He said: “The Bolton (Evening) News gets several mentions in the book because it has basically been covering the story of my career as a comedian since day one. It forms an enormous part of my life in Bolton and has played an invaluable role in historically recording almost everything I've ever done.”

Comedians like Billy Connolly, Dave Allen, Jasper Carrott and Mike Harding were huge influences on me. I loved their anecdotal style. When Billy Connolly talks about going to a church dance at school, I can actually see the dance, the windows, the people in the room. He paints the whole picture; that’s what I wanted to be able to do.

I also saw the benefits of aggression in comedy. Audiences love to hear a comedian getting angry about something, a car breaking down, a bad flight.

One of my early routines was about my mum’s inability to work a video recorder: My mum can’t work a video. It drives me mad because she can’t tape things. I’ll come home and find I’ve only got half an episode of ER and she’ll say, ‘I never touched it. It just stopped and started rewinding itself in the middle of the programme. One of your friends will have taped it.’ Or sometimes she’ll say, ‘I’ll cut the adverts out for you.’ I say, ‘No you won’t, you’ll pause it, then forget about it and miss the last half of the show.’ I realised my strength was in talking about my real life, things that happen every day. Going to work, using public transport, standing on a plug with nothing on your feet. Talking about ordinary things and making the mundane funny came naturally to me and the audience seemed to lap it up. I had found my voice.

As a child I’d travel to Blackpool each summer with my family to watch variety shows built around comedians like Cannon and Ball, Little and Large, Russ Abbot and Mike Yarwood. Those shows had a huge impact on me. When I compèred I always felt obliged to end the night with a song, it just gave the show closure. Nine out of ten times it would be ‘(Is This The Way To) Amarillo’. I dug out the Tony Christie LP that my mum used to play and I actually wrote the words down on a piece of A4 and sellotaped it to the back. I didn’t even have any backing, I just sang it ‘Acapulco’ (as Brian Potter would say). Obviously this was years before I had any notion of doing a Comic Relief video. I never imagined that ten years later I’d be ruining people’s karaoke forever.

I also enjoyed trying out different things with an audience.

I used to like dressing up as a lion. I had a costume left over from when I’d performed The Wizard Of Oz at school with the nuns (well the nuns weren’t actually in it . . . oh, just read the first book, that’ll explain everything, it’s only £2.99 as it’s just been Whoops! in Asda).

I’d compère the first two halves of the show in my normal stage attire, then get changed into my lion costume during the interval.

I also bought a pack of pretend cigarettes from a joke shop, that looked real and blew out talcum powder when you gave them a puff.

I’d go back on dressed as a lion with a fag in my mouth, do a bit of material, introduce the next act and leave. Never referring to my costume once. Then I’d go straight back up to the dressing room and take the whole lot off as quick as I could, ready to go back on. It got laughs and I really enjoyed the surrealness of it all. Unfortunately Graham Norton didn’t find it quite so amusing when I introduced him dressed as a lion and he made some sarcastic quip as I left the stage.

The next night he happened to ask me what the gay area in Manchester was called.

It’s common knowledge that the gay area is Canal Street, but when Graham asked me I said something that I’m still not proud of, in fact I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly apologise. When Graham asked me the name of the gay area in Manchester I told him it was Bury.