A Conversation for 'Phoenix Nights' - the Television Series

You could have mentioned...

Post 1

Geoff Taylor - Gullible Chump

...that the main cast of the show are almost all stand-up comedians rather than actors. I've shared comedy line-ups with Archie Kelly, Justin Moorhouse and Toby Foster a number of times. (Geoff's claim to fame)

It's also worth noting that in the same way, many of the supporting cast were drawn from the Northwest comedy circuit. Toby Hadoke, Des Sharples, Tony Skip, Peter Slater, Anthony J Brown, Mik Artistik... the list goes on.

I can't help thinking that if I'd started performing my comedy a couple of years earlier I might have had a part on the show myself. smiley - blush

You could have mentioned...

Post 2

Mat Lindsay (the researcher formerly known as Nylarthotep...now he has a name, all he needs is a face)

I think that's one of the things that lends PNS a certain realism that you don't get with a lot of other series that have popped up over the past few years. I often wonder if folks south of Watford Gap are at all enamoured of the series as the humour is very grounded in the North. I also wonder if the Americans would be aware that the series is comedy at all as it revolves around such bleak issues and features characters that would be inconcievable in a US comedy.

I had to approach this from the viewpoint of a viewer rather than an afficianado of the comedy circuit, I'm afraid. And as such I was only aware that the writers and Mr Toby Foster were actually stand-up veterans (a friend of my partner used to work with the latter when he owned a comedy club in Barnsley).

I heard a rumor that Peter Kay turned down the requests of his celebrity mates to make guest appearances in the series, imagine the state that Friends would be in if the producers had the same attitude!

You could have mentioned...

Post 3


Picking up on whether the South of England can see the humour in quite the same light...PN is joyously funny because, if you're from a Northern town, there are likely to be two or three WMC's within any random stone's throw and places like this will be part of your personal and cultural heritage. Like me, you may even have spent your formative years going to them with family, playing bingo there (EVERYONE plays bingo)and watching "turns" whose optimism that they'll make it big one day is in inverse proportion to their actual ability.

You love it because it's familar and parochial: this also makes you wonder if Southerners will see it as yet more evidence of cloth-cap wearing Whippet fancying pigeon-racing "eeh bah goom!" Northern stereotypes who keep their coal in the bath. But on this occassion the stereotype is right - this IS a big fat chunk of accurately observed Northern life!

One thing the Guide article could usefully speculate on is the TV genesis of Phoenix Nights: in the Seventies, Granada ran two series which were straight uot of the WMC circuit.

The first was a straight recreation called "The Wheeltappers and Shunters' Social Club", where one Bernard Manning played the genial club compere: therefore viewers knew from the off not to seek political correctness here, as Manning introduced the turns and gave any Asians or West Indians in the "club" his personal attention.

The second was "The Comedians", a spin-off series that gave Northern club comedians a chance to break away from the club circuit and do their stuff on TV. Some died, others made it to a bigger audience (ie, Cannon and Ball, God help us). Also compered by Manning, if memory serves me right.

Did either of these series make it out of regional viewing in the North to nationwide ITV programming?

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