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pride of manchester - exclusive interview with dave spikey
Dave Spikey as Jerry St.Clair in Peter kay's Phoenix Nights
Dave Spikey (a.k.a. Phoenix Night's Jerry 'The Saint' St.Clair) talks exclusively to Pride Of Manchester during his 'Overnight Success' tour
15th Oct 2003

Chorley comedian Dave Spikey's rise to stardom has certainly been a long-time coming, as the name of his 'Overnight Success' tour indicates with an ironic wink.

Having worked for over 25 years as Chief Biomedical Scientist in Haematology at The Royal Bolton Hospital, Dave also tried his hand at comedy writing. Still working in the lab during the day, he played the Manchester comedy circuit as a stand-up in the evenings. This lead to him being asked to support Cannon & Ball on their 1993 UK tour. He also found time to contribute to Eamonn O'Neal and Jimmy Wagg's radio show on GMR (BBC Manchester) at weekends.


In 1991 he won the prestigious North West Comedian of the Year award (beating Dave Gorman and Brendan Reilly in the process). It was when he compered for the same award in 1996 that he became best friends with the winner, a young Peter Kay.

Together they wrote the links for the ill-fated 'Chain Letters' game show that Dave also presented. Their writing partnership also produced 'The Services', 'That Peter Kay Thing', and 'Phoenix Nights' - in which he played Jerry 'The Saint' St.Clair - the compere without compare.

Amazingly it wasn't until the second series of Phoenix Nights in 2000 that Dave actually gave up his day-job at the hospital laboratory, allowing him more time to devote to his comedy.

He spoke exclusively to Pride Of Manchester during his 2003 sell-out 'Overnight Success' tour (which is currently in its second run). A DVD and video of which is set for release in November.

Dave Spikey with the rest of the cast in Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights

Dave Spikey

Pride Of Manchester: The 'Overnight Success' Tour you are currently on (a.k.a. as 'My Son Needs a New Exhaust' Tour), is enjoying night after night of sold out venues. How does it feel having sold out such prestigous places as The Lowry?

Dave Spikey: "A dream come true . I never thought that so many people would come to see a show of mine and that I’d play to an audience of 1700 . I’m under no illusions though , I know a lot of people are coming because of the phenomenal success of Phoenix Nights but hopefully by the end of the show I’ll have convinced them that I’m a half decent stand-up."
Steve Coogan once said that people in North Manchester have a totally different sense of humour to those in South Manchester. Your tour has taken in almost every borough of Greater Manchester (Bury, Rochdale, Salford, Oldham, Bolton, Wigan and Stockport). Is it something you've noticed?
Dave Spikey

"I’ve not really thought of that and can’t say that I’ve noticed it to be honest. Of the South Manchester venues that I have played I’ve noticed little difference."

Do you have to change your set when playing different towns (ie, Wigan jokes tend to get a laugh more in Bolton and Warrington than they would in, say, Bury or Oldham, whilst the rivalry between Blackburn and Burnley, or Manchester and Liverpool is well known locally too).
"I don’t change it hardly at all. Maybe I set up the routines differently , maybe give them a bit more background information if I think it will help explain stuff more but generally funny’s funny and it is “the way you tell them"
Tom Bloxham first came to Manchester to study at the University of Manchester

What's the best gig you've played?

"Well “The Lowry” on Sunday has to be top of the list right now. Not just the biggest audience but really enthusiastic, loud and supportive. Simply stunning! I have to say that the gigs are getting better and better, maybe I’m working better as well as the confidence grows and I experiment with new material but its my perception that audiences are really up for it at the moment. Recently Stoke and Warrington were superb also. Top three contenders."
Your tour pops down south this week. Being a northern lad born and bred, how do you feel playing London?
"I’ve always had great gigs in London. Theres a lot of ex-pats down there and also the southern audiences really seem to like good northern comics. I think maybe that we’re a refreshing change from the comedians on the London circuit."
You recorded your DVD at the Leeds show - why did you choose this rather than, say... Bolton or The Lowry?
Dave Spikey Live - The new DVD & video

"Bolton hasn’t got a great venue for comedy and besides Peter’s recorded his new DVD there. I didn’t honestly think I’d fill The Lowry and actually I wish I'd have considered it more. It would have been stunning . I chose Leeds because the beautiful City Varieties Theatre is one of only two Victorian theatres still operating and I loved the idea of doing contemporary comedy in a place like that . So many massive names have performed there over the years including all the comedy greats so it was a thrill to film it on that stage."

Being one of the creators and writers of Phoenix Nights meant you 'gave' many of your jokes to Peter Kay. How difficult was it writing the material for your tour? Have you found that Peter has trademarked many of your gags?
"Not difficult. Ive been doing stand up for over ten years remember so I have stacks of material. What surprised me was how little of my proposed set I've ended up doing because I've developed other routines as the tours progressed . I don’t know about Peter trademarking my gags, he hasn’t done many when I've been seeing him "
Tom Bloxham first came to Manchester to study at the University of Manchester

Have you ever thought of doing a gig from the top of Eiffel Tower to out do Peter?

"Now that mon ami is a quality idea."
Is there any jealousy from yourself or Neil Fitzmaurice about the credit Peter seemed to take on his own for Phoenix Nights?
"No jealousy on my part. If it wasn’t for my involvement I’d still be working at the hospital, looking down a microscope - some days I’d even switch it on! Having said that, we were pissed off that he accepted the British Comedy Award for Best Writer for Phoenix Nights when it is, as you say, scripted by the three of us. We queried why we had been excluded and were never given a satisfactory answer."
Talking about Phoenix Nights - how good has it been taking Jerry 'The Saint' St.Clair live? Dave Spikey presenting Chain Letters
"Fantastic. I’m conscious of the fact that that’s why a lot of people have come and so his small spot at the end always goes down a storm."
Are you involved with the new Max & Paddy series?
So when can we next expect to see you on TV again?
"Don’t know really. I’ve been offered a couple of things recently that weren’t really me so I passed on them. I’m writing a sit-com and a comedy drama at the moment so I’ll probably try and wangle one of the parts IF (and that’s a big IF) either get commissioned."
So there's no plans to bring back Chain Letters for Challenge TV then?
"You made me go all queezy then."

You once beat the likes of Dave Gorman and Brendan Reilly to win the North West comedian of the year award. Have you reminded them of this since?

"I’ve not seen either of them for years but I wouldn’t any way. Its not done either of them any harm though has it?"
An old flyer for The Buzz Club in Manchester featuring Dave Spikey alongside young Mancunian comedians Steve Coogan, Caroline Aherne and  John Thompson as well as Jack Dee and Mark Lamarr
You seem to be influenced by a whole host of comedians, especially Billy Connolly and our very own Les Dawson and Victoria Wood. Who is your favourite comedian of all time?
"You hit the nail on the head. Billy Connolly is the Daddy."
Why do you think Manchester produces so many good comedians?
"It’s a tough question. I have this theory that its inherited and that we’re surrounded by it. I think we live in a region that has always had an optimistic outlook on life; where every cloud has a silver lining. Where at the end of a miserable, stressful or sad day a good laugh will make everything a bit brighter. I think this has always been the case and over the years of hardship and war and poverty and deprivation that the region has encountered its always been there and has ingrained itself within the north west population. We also have the gift of being able to laugh at ourselves which is another key element."
Talking of Manc comedians - you've been supported on tour by two of the funniest Manchester comedians going - Justin Moorhouse and Steve Royle - does it make it easier or harder to perform after such good acts? Dave Spikey
"Easier. Justin and Steve are 'Special Guests' – I hate that 'support' tag. They’re quality acts both. I know a lot of 'Name' comics won’t have top quality support acts. They think that they may be eclipsed by them. My view is that if you’re that concerned and insecure you shouldn’t be headlining your own show. With class special guests you should be good enough to 'surf' in on the wave of laughter and good humour they’ve created and race away..."
Dave Spikey
Have you got any plans to rest once your tour finishes, or is it a case of then plugging the DVD?
"Yeah, the DVD is released on November 17th a week after Peter’s. They were both supposed to come out together but they’ve moved his forward for some reason. I've got a couple of writing projects I’m working on so Ive got everything crossed that one of them gets commissioned. If they don’t I’ll be writing a new show and touring again next year hopefully."
You seem to be very close to your fans, and even update your own website. Do you have any groupies?
"Not really. I do have some great fans who come to two,three or four shows but they’re genuinely nice , enthusiastic people."
QUICK FIRE MANC ROUND: Dave Spikey - Overnight Success Tour Part 2
How do you like your Vimto?
"Cordial with Ice."
United, City or Bolton?
"I’m from Bolton so I’m a big Trotters Fan and season ticket holder. I have trouble understanding how people support any other team than that of their home town.."
Steak'n'Kidney or Cheese'n'Onion?
"Cheese and Onion (Im a veggie)."
Boddies or Joey Holts?
"Tough Call. I find Boddies a bit more refreshing."
The Hollies or Oasis?
Mick Hucknall or Mike Harding?
"Dead heat."
Stu Francis or Stuart Hall?
"Stuart Hall a national treasure."
Cold Feet or Queer As Folk?
"Queer as Folk. Russell Davies is the best writer around."
Gordon Burns or Lucy Meacock?
"Lucy of course."
China town or Rusholme?
"Rusholme. Went there after the Lowry gig. Always superb."
[back to top]  

Thanks Dave for taking the time out of your tour to talk to Pride Of Manchester.
Pride Of Manchester would especially like to thank Caroline at the Comedy Store for helping us arrange the interview.
This interview is 2003 Pride Of Manchester & Dave Spikey
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buy Phoenix Nights Series 1 & 2 DVD box set for only £20.95
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