Comedian Peter Kay broke down in tears as he was given a standing ovation on Friday night at the start of his first tour in 12 years.
The 49-year-old comic, who has been out of the spotlight in recent years, announced in November that he was embarking on an arena tour spanning December to August 2023.
The crowd chanted his name as he took to the stage in the first leg of the tour at Manchester's AO arena.
He had to compose himself before telling fans: “How am I supposed to do comedy now? I can't believe you made me cry.”
It was the first of 110 arena dates the Bolton star will perform over the next two-and-a-half years.
He had been due to go on tour in 2017, but cancelled that due to “unforeseen family circumstances”, before returning to the stage in August 2021 for two charity events to raise money for Laura Nuttall, a then-20-year-old with an aggressive type of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme.
On Friday, around 20,000 fans in Manchester came out to see the comedian who is widely regarded as one of the UK’s best stand-up comedians.
When tickets went on sale last month fans faced huge online queues as they attempted to secure tickets.
Many reported seeing messages on the Ticketmaster website telling them there were more than 200,000 people ahead of them in the virtual line.
Channel 5 News host Dan Walker was among those in the queue, tweeting: “Trying to get Peter Kay tickets is like trying to get an appointment at the GP!
“‘Please hold… there are currently 170,000 people ahead of you in the queue’.”
Fellow comic Jason Manford joked: “Phew lucky enough to get 2x Peter Kay tickets. For sale 2x Peter Kay tickets, £3500 each ono.”
Others compared the experience to the famously difficult task of securing tickets to Glastonbury Festival.
Within two hours tickets were already appearing on resale sites, with a single ticket to a London show selling for up to £350 on Viagogo.
Mr Kay also announced he had added more shows to the tour, taking it up to the end of 2024.
These included two new dates at the Utilita Arena Birmingham, four new dates at London’s O2 Arena and six new dates at the AO Arena Manchester.
The London dates will form part of his monthly residency at the venue, after he was announced as the first artist to secure one.
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