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Author: Peter Kay
TV: Big Adventures On The Small Screen is the 2023 autobiography by comedian Peter Kay. Peter is currently embarking on a mammoth UK standup tour which was his first in 12 years (and I reviewed his June show in Birmingham here) and is scheduled to last until 2025.
When I heard he was also releasing a new book I knew I wanted to read it so pre-ordered it for its 28th September release date.
The book is an autobiography but it focusses specifically on Peter’s lengthy and prolific TV career, whereas his previous autobiography The Sound of Laughter took a lookback on his life as a whole.
In the opening chapters Peter writes about his love of TV from a young age and specifically classic comedies such as The Two Ronnies and Porridge which would help shape his TV career later on in life. We also learn he had a fascination with TV themes and TV guides, keeping copies of both in his attic to this day (the TV themes being stored on casette tapes). This formed quite a large part of his Better Late Than Never tour so it is nice to have some cohesion with the stand up show for fans who went to see it.
The book then takes you on a behind-the-scenes look at virtually every TV credit the comedian has been involved in and really feels like no stone is left unturned, access all areas. I also didn’t realise just how many things he had been in over the years. From That Peter Kay Thing to Pheonix Nights, through to Car Share every show Peter goes into great detail about how it was made and also how he enjoyed the experience.
I think for someone who has had as lengthy a career as he has readers will find reading about certain parts of the book more entertaining than others, depending on what shows you were a fan of.
For example, I was born in the mid-90s so was a bit young for Peter Kay’s earlier stuff (although I was aware of some of the shows such as Pheonix Nights).
However I was definitely in the prime age range when he did his Is This The Way To Amarillo! video for Comic Relief and reading about how it came about was very entertaining and also got me to rewatch the video out of nostalgia (though of course the video hasn’t aged very well due to having Jimmy Saville in the clip which Peter does write about), as well as the famous Ronnie Corbett fall during the video which it turns out wasn’t staged at all!
It was also interesting to read how difficult it had been for him to get certain celebrities onboard when this type of thing hadn’t really been done before but because of it’s success his 2007 single (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles was much easier to get people on board for.
He also talks about the unexpected complications he had for his 2010 Children In Need single which featured Peter Kay’s Animated All Star Band, composed of various children’s characters, especially as some companies were very protective over the characters and were initially reluctant to get on board which I found quite shocking considering the good cause it was for. As a result it also took nearly two years to complete the entire project.
Another show I remember wathcing him appear in (though it is more infamous) is his appearance in the Doctor Who episode Love and Monsters. I didn’t actually know he was originally offered the part of Elton, the main character in the episode but chose to be the villain character, the Abzorbaloff, due to wanting to spend time with his young family. The episode is notorious due to being quite slow, having a ridiculous ending and the villain being designed by the winner of a Blue Peter competition (which I also entered and didn’t win, sob!).
The book is entertaining and full of Peter’s wit, with some very laugh out loud situations that occured behind the scenes. Peter writes during produciton of his Comedy Shuddle series how he asked some Asian Elders to appear on a tour bus but when the bus didn’t arrive he tried to explain to them what was going on, only for their interpreter to turn up as they didn’t understand a word of English.
Also whilst making Britain’s Got The Pop Factor there’s a famous moment where Cat Deeley shouts at the audience to “F**KING SHUT UP” which was completely improvised by her as well.
It also exposed quite a lot of heart goes into Peter’s shows, with many being filmed around his hometown of Bolton and his friends and family appearing in many shows in various capacities.
It is a very fun read and a look back at the career of probably one of the most successful comedians in Britain today and it has made me want to seek out the rest of these shows to watch them back and then maybe revisit the book once again so I would definitely recommend giving it a read and it is available on Amazon here.