Peter Kay fans rejoiced in November last year when the Bolton stand-up comic announced that he would be touring the United Kingdom for the first time in eight years.
With his previous tour in 2010 becoming the biggest selling comedy tour of all time, playing to over 1.2 million people, tickets for dates across 2018 and 2019 in Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, London, Leeds, Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield, and Liverpool sold out rapidly, forcing extra shows to be added and taking the total number of dates to 112.
Speaking about the prospect of going back on the road, Kay said: “I really miss it. I know how lucky I am to be making television series and have really loved these past few years working on ‘Car Share’ but I miss doing stand-up.
“As terrifying as it is, when it works there’s nothing more fun and exciting. Plus, a lot has happened in the last eight years, with Trump, Twitter, and my Nan getting her front bush trimmed at the age of 96. I can’t wait to get back up on stage.”
However, the euphoria was short lived as the 44-year-old then cancelled the comeback tour, citing “family circumstances”, back in December.
A statement from him read: “Due to unforeseen family circumstances, I deeply regret I am having to cancel all of my upcoming work projects. This unfortuntately includes my upcoming stand-up tour, Dance For Life shows and any outstanding live work commitments.
“My sincerest apologies. This decision has not been taken lightly and I’m sure you’ll understand my family must always come first.
“I’ve always endeavoured to project my family’s privacy from the media. I hope that the media and the public will continue to respect our privacy at this time. Once again, I’m very sorry.”
Whilst Kay’s Dance For Life events, in Coventry, Liverpool and Manchester that saw him become a DJ and turn large arenas into giant dance floors to raise money for cancer charities, were mentioned in the statement, it was unclear what other “work projects” would be abandoned.
However, there is now news on BBC Two sitcom Cradle to Grave, in which Kay played the role of Fred ‘Spud’ Baker. The show’s creator, Danny Baker, has suggested that it will continue but has been put on hold until 2019.
“The show is in limbo,” the radio DJ said. “I’ll wait for Peter until 2019, but the actors all need to know.
“The BBC is being very good about it but a big player independent of the BBC and everyone else has stepped in and said, “We think there’s a way of doing your record shop or punk years’. I’d be happy if it was just that.”
The first series of the sitcom aired in late 2015, and was very popular with viewers. Set in 1970s Bermondsey, it’s eight episodes told the story of Danny Baker’s childhood based on his autobiography titled ‘Going to Sea in a Sieve’.
Alongside EastEnders actress Lucy Speed who played Baker’s mother, Kay portrays dad Fred, nicknamed Spud, who works as a docker but also sells the things he stocks to earn money. Described as “a real life Del Boy”, his wheeler dealer antics sometimes find him in hot water.
BBC comedy boss Shane Allen joked “I’m going to hang up my boots up and quit this job”, if the show wasn’t a hit. Luckily for him, it was, and Baker quickly began working on a second series with close friend and fellow scriptwriter Jeff Pope whilst on holiday in Florida.
Yet two years down the line, it has still not returned to our screens, and Kay’s recent announcement has pushed it back even further.
Before the comic had even announced and then cancelled his stand-up tour, there were reports that Baker was auditioning potential back up actors to play his father in the sitcom, with both Al Murray and former Madness singer Chas Smash mentioned.
But Baker has showed his admiration for Kay in various interviews, suggesting “He’s the only one who can really play Spud”.
On the Northern comic adopting a South London accent for the sitcom, Baker said: “Peter, yes, Bolton to his boots – but he’s also an actor… He always wanted to be like his hero Ronnie Barker and he has that quality – I think he’s the natural heir to that sort of actor.
“He’s not an impersonator. But that’s how his character talks, so I’m not precious. The point is it’s a London accent I grew up never hearing London accents anyway! I mean, what Ronnie Barker did in Porridge, I don’t know what part of London that was. I let him find him, let him work on it.”
Thankfully, Kay’s hugely popular and BAFTA winning BBC One sitcom Car Share, which he stars in alongside Sian Gibson, will still be back on our screens. A BBC spokeswoman stated that two final episodes – an improvised and unscripted episode and “a special finale” – have already been filmed and will air at some point this year, meaning that fans will finally get to find out whether John and Kayleigh got together.
The comedy was set to end for good on a cliff-hanger back in May after Kayleigh declared her love for John, but walked out of his car and his life when he refused to say how he felt.
“People have been very angry that the series ended in that way,” Kay said.
“But [now] there is a series finale explaining what happened the next day, after the big argument.
“We’ve also done another episode called Car Share Unscripted, which is half an hour of us basically making the script up and improvising. It’s nothing to do with the story – just us having a laugh.”