Comic, singer, actor and now writer: Peter Kay signs book deal

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The Independent Online

In less than a decade, Peter Kay has transformed himself from a struggling stand-up, drawing on a series of dead-end jobs for comic material, into one of Britain's best-loved entertainers. Now, the remarkable life story of the funny man from Bolton is to be revealed in an eagerly awaited autobiography.

Kay has signed a deal with Random House to write his memoirs, which will be published later this summer.

News of the deal follows Channel 4's decision to devote an entire evening to the Lancastrian comic on Bank Holiday Monday. It is a sign of Kay's remarkable popularity that he is following in the footsteps of stars such as Robbie Williams who have written autobiographies long before the end of their careers.

Since winning Channel 4's So You Think You're Funny contest in 1997, everything Kay, 32, has touched has turned to comic gold.

The following year, he performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the first time, where he was nominated for the prestigious Perrier comedy award.

In his first television series, That Peter Kay Thing, he played 15 characters. One of these, the bad-tempered, wheelchair-bound nightclub boss Brian Potter, was the inspiration for Kay's Bafta-award winning comedy series Phoenix Nights, set in a working men's club.

A second series and a spin-off about its two bouncers, Max and Paddy's Road To Nowhere, followed. Phoenix Nights became the best-selling comedy DVD ever in the UK, closely followed by the DVD of That Peter Kay Thing, which was the fastest-selling title of 2004.

Voted the UK's favourite comedian in a survey of 10,000 audience members at Jongleurs Comedy Clubs last year, Kay has maintained his reputation as a stand-up. In 2002, his "Mum Wants A Bungalow" tour broke box office records, selling out at a rate of a seat every two seconds and bringing in an audience of more than half a million.

Kay has also turned his hand to acting. He has appeared in Coronation Street and will star in a forthcoming episode of Doctor Who after writing to the scriptwriter Russell T Davies asking for a part.

Earlier this year, Kay revealed at a memorial service for Ronnie Barker that he had written to the veteran comedian telling him how much he admired his performance in Porridge. Barker responded, in the persona of his character Norman Fletcher, and the two became pen-pals.

Kay has also enjoyed musical success with "(Is This The Way To) Amarillo?" The song, which he recorded for Comic Relief with Tony Christie, spent seven weeks at number one in the singles chart.

It is a far cry from the succession of low-paid jobs that Kay drifted through after leaving school in his native Bolton, where he still lives with his wife, Susan, and young son. But working as a mobile DJ, a cinema usher, a toilet-roll packer and a steward at the Manchester Arena provided a rich vein of material for his routines.

Hannah Black, commissioning editor of Random House imprint Century, said: "Publishing Peter Kay's autobiography is a dream come true. Not only have Century acquired a gifted writer with a keen sense of the absurdities and idiosyncrasies of all family life, but also one of Britain's greatest comedians. We've loved what we read so far. We started to laugh after the first line and carried on laughing until the end."

Phoenix rising

1997 Won Channel 4's So You Think You're Funny.

1998 Earned first of three Perrier Award nominations.

2000 Performed at Blackpool Tower. On Parkinson and Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.

2001 First series of Phoenix Nightsaired.

2002 The phrases "'ave it" and "two lamb bhunas" entered common parlance after his John Smiths ads.

2004 Co-wrote and starred in Coronation Street.

2005 Promoted a re-release of Tony Christie's 1971 hit "(Is this the way to) Amarillo?" It was number one for seven weeks. Voiced PC McIntosh in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

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