Peter Kay’s bitter 10-year feud with Phoenix Nights co-star over ‘stolen’ credit

Peter Kay wasn’t the only person who wrote the hit sitcom Phoenix Nights – and one of his co-stars was livid for not getting enough credit for his input.

The popular Channel 4 sitcom, which first aired in 2002 and lasted for two series, was based on a working men’s club in Bolton and cemented itself as a cult classic.

The main character and star of the series was Peter Kay, who as well as writing and directing episodes, also played three different characters that even appeared in the same scenes.

The main focus was on Kay’s character Brian Potter’s attempts to turn the club’s fortunes around despite his rough punters and bumbling staff.

Peter wrote the show along with Neil Fitzmaurice and Dave Spikey, who played DJ Ray Von and the club’s compere Jerry St. Clair, but this led to a bitter feud once the show ended.

There was anger that a third series was not made and over who got credit for the popularity of the show – with Dave not speaking to Peter for a decade before they eventually reconciled.

Jerry was used in Brian’s schemes such as being dressed up as a giant berry and was selling black bin bags in Asda after they lost the club.

While his character was humiliated on-screen, Dave had similar feelings in real life as he hated that Peter was getting all the recognition for the show’s success, Mirror Online reports.

Peter Kay and Dave Spikey fell out over a Phoenix Nights dispute

“He rang me and Neil Fitzmaurice, the other writer on Phoenix Nights, and said we’d been nominated for a Writers Guild Of Great Britain award,” he told the Manchester Evening News in 2010.

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“We thought it was fantastic, only for it to go away and for us to discover that actually we hadn’t been nominated, it was only Peter. And you think, ‘well, he’s probably not going to accept that because of all the work we did’.

“There were three writers. If you’re talking about the person who sat down at the end and collated everything and wrote it, then that was Peter. If that’s how you qualify, by putting the words on the paper, then so be it.”

Dave said that they had brain storming sessions where he and Neil would submit a lot of dialogue and that he did a lot of his own research.

This included taking Peter to visit clubs and even sending his own wife to an Ann Summers night.

Spikey also refused to appear in one scene where Kay suggested that he should be hosed down naked by Bolton firefighters following an anthrax scare at the Phoenix Club.

They eventually healed their rift when Peter told Dave he was planning live shows of Phoenix Nights for Comic Relief back in 2015.

Dave admitted it was a “little awkward” at first, but it turned into the “best two weeks of his life” and helped resurrect their close friendship.

The pair starred together in the Channel 4 hit sitcom Phoenix Nights
The pair starred together in the Channel 4 hit sitcom Phoenix Nights

“Peter’s call came like a bolt from the blue. It really knocked me sideways,” I explained.

“We hadn’t spoken for over ten years and it had been 12 years since we filmed the last Phoenix Nights. Life had moved on. I always hoped we’d get back together but the longer things went on, the less likely it was.”

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He added: “It was nice to hear from Peter. We’d obviously grown apart but within a few moments in the rehearsal room in Wakefield the years just faded away and it was like we’d never been away.”

After Phoenix Nights, Dave went on to become a regular team captain on 8 Out of 10 Cats from 2005 to 2007, the host of a revived Bullseye in 2006 and did stand-up tour Juggling on a Motorbike in 2017.

While Peter went off with best pal and co-star Paddy McGuinness to make hilarious spin-off series Max & Paddy’s Road To Nowhere.

In December 2018, Dave slammed the decision to end Phoenix Nights after just two series, admitting he was upset that Peter and Paddy decided to leave then went on to make a spin-off.

“You can never go back,” Dave tweeted in 2018. “Should have done a third series and a Christmas special. The ideas and storylines were there.”

Seemingly taking a swipe at Peter and Paddy, he added: “Max and Paddy rode away into the sunset and sadly that was the end of that.”

“Was that just thrown upon you that they wanted to go their separate way with it?” a fan replied, to which Dave agreed.

When a fan asked if a series three would be happening, he replied: “Lost cause I’m afraid.”

Peter and Dave healed the rift
Peter and Dave healed the rift

Dave also spoke about his failing showbiz career and questioned whether it was “an age thing.”

After confirming he wouldn’t be back on screens soon, he added: “Not for want of trying! Keep writing – keep getting rejections. Don’t know what they’re looking for.”

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“It can be frustrating and demoralizing at times but hey, get your head down and crack on.”

One person who is making a comeback is Peter, who is reportedly set to reveal plans for a huge comeback tour in 2023.

This comes six years after he stepped away from the limelight due to unforeseen family circumstances’ and canceled what would have been his first tour in eight years in 2017.

But Peter is said to be planning to perform across the UK next year and is rare to be back on stage again in what will be his first tour since 2011.

A source told The Sun: “He has lined up huge venues across the country including in Manchester, London and Birmingham and is hoping to announce it in September.

“Peter has not performed a live stand-up set on a big stage in well over a decade now but he could not be more ready to get back out there.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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