Peter Kay’s comedy is rooted in the mannerism and shared experiences of the Northern working classes. Phoenix Nights, for example, is more than a collection of gags set in against a backdrop – it is a wincingly accurate portrayal of a certain type of Northern institution.
“Eyes Down” was part of his acclaimed That Peter Kay Thing – a six part series in the mould of Ronnie Barker’s Seven of One designed to show Kay’s versatility as a writer and performer. Each episode focussed on a single character, played by Kay and explored their life in the style of a documentary. Several of the characters crossed paths during the series – Eyes Down saw the screen debut of Kay’s now infamous Keith Lard character for example.
This episode followed the life of the fictional Apollo Bingo Club in Manchester. Kay’s main role was bingo caller Tom Dale, but he also made appearances as various other characters during the show – most notably as Keith Lard.
Plotline & Characters
In the style of the other shows from the series, the show is less concerned with plotlines than just following the characters who work in the club. The show’s documentary format allowed the makers to follow employees of the bingo club and the players themselves through a typical days’ activities. Through their interaction, we learn of the myriad petty rivalries that exist among the employees.
- Peter Kay: bingo caller Tom Dale
- Andrew Sachs: narrator
- Steve Edge: Alan
- Alex Lowe
- Sian Foulkes
- Pierce Quigley
At the centre of the action is Tom Dale, the club’s bingo caller. Clearly something of a ‘lad’, he is cutting both about other staff members and the club’s owners, making off-colour remarks about their abilities and personalities throughout the show. Despite his air of cocky bravado, he is actually unwilling to confront them directly and gets the owners to take action against staff members against whom he has taken a dislike.
Keith Lard: Background
One of Peter Kay’s most memorable characters was fire safety officer Keith Lard. This character recurred through several Peter Kay programs and real life Bolton fire safety officer Keith Laird claimed that the character was based on him. Keiths Laird and Lard shared similarities in terms of appearance, occupation and name. A running joke with the Keith Lard character was that he was suspected (but never convicted) of sexual activity with dogs, and it was this that caused most offence to Mr. Laird. After the show was first aired, Channel 4 issued a statement:
“Channel 4 and Peter Kay would like to state that the character of Keith Lard may have led some persons to wrongly believe that the character was based on Mr Keith Laird. We wish to make it clear that this was not the case and would like to apologise to Mr Laird and his family for the distress caused.”
In the show, Keith Lard reads out what he believes to be a news story from America. Actually, he is reading the lyrics toĂ Disco Inferno by 1970s disco band The Trammps. Brian Potter refers to him as ‘Dogtanian’ – a simultaneous reference to a cult 80s TV cartoon and Laird supposed int
Keith Lard Quotes:
- “Fire! Smoke kills in seconds, fire kills in minutes and there’s no smoke without fire”
- “If you’re not careful it’ll go up like that. Woof!”
- “Seriously… he bums dogs” (Tom Dale)
- “He interferes with dogs… in the worst possible way” (Tom Dale)
Keith Lard Clips
Whatever the character’s origins, he is one of the most widely remembered of all Peter Kay’s comic creations and these clips will perhaps indicate why.
“Seriously. He bums dogs”
“And woof! The whole place goes up.”