Theatre & Events: Words Don’t Come Easy for Phoenix Nights star Spikey

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COMEDIAN Dave Spikey was out walking when we spoke by phone, something he has been doing on doctor’s orders.

He said: “I’ve got a bad hip. I fell on it playing football. At my age, I should know better. I tripped over my own foot.

“I thought I might need a new hip but they won’t even send me for an x-ray.”

Surely the former Chief Biomedical Scientist in Haematology at the Royal Bolton Hospital can pull some strings? “That was 10 years ago. I don’t know anybody at the hospital now. Gone are the days when I could just ask to get fitted in.”

Dave said that the NHS proved a good training ground. “It’s a fertile area for comedy. On some occasions you’ve got to laugh or you’ll cry. It’s such a dark humour, just diffusing a situation by saying something inappropriate but funny. When you get it wrong it’s great training for comedy.”

His family are another rich seam of laughs for the star and co-writer of Phoenix Nights, the Peter Kay sitcom where he played Bolton club compere Jerry St Clair.

He said: “I spent a lot of school holidays with my gran. She used to say, ‘I’ve got a busy day tomorrow. I’m having two teeth out and a gas fire put in’.

“She left me at the school gates when I was five and traumatised. I asked, ‘How long do I have to stay here’? ‘Until you’re 18,’ she said.”

His new stand-up tour, Words Don’t Come Easy, celebrates his love of language and the misuse of language: “Analysing song lyrics is part of the tour. It started with that Vanessa Williams song, Save the Best for Last. It goes, ‘Sometimes the sun goes round the moon’. What a love of astro physics!

“Then I started looking at newspaper headlines. I got a good one from New York about a month ago: Headless man found in topless bar.

“I love all the little stories and misprints. I found an obituary in a cars for sale column – ‘Ford Escort 1993. Ford Ghia. Ford, Albert Edward, died last year’.

“It’s that ambiguity of language I love. I’m a bit of an old fuddy duddy about text speak and dumbing down the language. My friends do it when they text me and I need an Enigma code-breaking machine. Like when people write l8r instead of later. I just hate it.”

He said he has noticed that a lot of comedians writing their next tour while they’re on the road. He says: “I just want to get on stage and do it. That keeps it fresh for me. I laugh at my own jokes the first time.”

Dave may not be writing his next stand-up show but he is busy on two new TV shows.

One is Glitterball, set in the world of ballroom dancing in a Blackpool hotel. He said: “There is a little bit of friction, elitism and backbiting with a mix of people.”

He has also been working on Magnolia for Sky. The show is based on a BBC Comedy Playhouse episode he wrote, about painters and decorators who come out of prison and set up in business.

Does he think either could match the success of Phoenix Nights? “I don’t think you would. It’s difficult to have done it but you have to still move on. Maybe you’ll get something else that good.”

Dave Spikey is at the Winding Wheel, Chesterfield tomorrow, Friday.