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Series / Phoenix Nights

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"Clubland will never die."

Phoenix Nights is a Brit Com starring Peter Kay. It revolves around the Phoenix Club, a run-down, scabby social club in Bolton. The owner is Brian Potter, a wheelchair-bound egomaniac currently on his third club (his first two closed down due to flooding and burning, respectively) but who is convinced that "Clubland will never die". Together with his hapless band of staff and regulars- most notably his long-suffering second-in-command Jerry St.Clair- Brian attempts to make the Phoenix Club the number one club in Bolton, despite rival club owner Den Perry, an extremely bad run of luck and their own ineptitude.

It later got a Spin-Off, Max & Paddy's Road To Nowhere.


This series contains examples of:

  • As Himself: TV presenter Roy Walker is the special guest for the club's opening.
  • The Band Minus the Face: singing duo Park Drive. Minus Park, with Drive bravely attempting to perfom duets solo. It doesn't end well.
  • Bar Brawl: In the 'Wild West night' episode, complete with all the traditional trappings.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Two men wander in off the street and steal the club's TV in broad daylight, and nobody stops them because they're wearing overalls and it's assumed that they're here to repair it.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Keith Lard was acquitted from interfering with dogs. According to rumors, he re-offends.
  • Blatant Lies: Most of what Kenny Senior says. He even lies under oath in court.
  • The Bouncer: Max and Paddy are the not-very-good doormen.
  • Bowdlerise: In-universe. Brian Potter often tells people off for swearing (despite having a foul mouth himself) - once citing "there's a child's bike outside". This reaches peak Potter when he lists off a bunch of subjects that the alternative comedy acts are banned from, which is essentially a list of alternative comedy staples.
    "No filth, simple as. No smut. No swearing. No racism, right? No queer or lezzy stuff. Don't go there. It's a family club. The Queen's photo's there: As far as you are concerned, she may as well be here."
  • Advertisement:
  • Bridal Carry: Seeing as Brian can't walk, he instead leads Beverley up the stairs by the hand, while he uses his stairlift.
  • British Brevity: Two series, with six half-hour episodes each.
  • Butt-Monkey: Jerry. It's not so bad at first, but in series 2 he takes the fall for pretty much all of Brian's antics.
  • Call-Back: Max's custom car alarm from the end of series 1 has been installed in his motorhome by the end of series 2.
  • Cassandra Truth: Hinted at. After mentioning he'd worked in Mexico, Keith Lard asks Kenny Senior (the consummate liar) what's the Mexican for "Let us out, we're burning! Aaah!". Kenny Senior then replies in fluent Spanish.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Marion the barmaid disappears between series 1 and 2 without explanation to be replaced by Joyce.
  • Colbert Bump: Brian schemes to boost the profile of the club by allowing 'Crimetime' to feature the burning down of the club on its show. Its implied to have worked at the end of the episode, when a couple stop off to check out the club specifically because it was on TV.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Paddy is willing to kill someone for his cut of a thousand pounds.
    • "A thousand pounds? I'll blow his 'ead off!"
  • Crappy Carnival: The 'family fun day' in episode 8, complete with a questionably shaped bouncy castle, a children's 'play area' (actually a Portaloo full of scaffolding and footballs scavenged from the roof) and face paint which is apparently permanent.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: The consummate liar is put on the stand in court as a character witness. Unbelievably, not only does he get away with it, but the judge reduces Brian's sentence based on, among other things his "glittering boxing career".
  • Crossdresser: When the staff are forced to be the last-minute stars of the Talent Trek contest, they make costumes out of whatever they can get their hands on. As Kenny Senior appears on stage in a Britney Spears schoolgirl outfit, one person remarks that outfit "wasn't in the hamper".
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Max and Paddy, at least in the season one finale.
  • Demoted to Extra: Young Mary, Holly Mary's daughter and Paddy's love interest in series one, played by Sian Gibson from Car Share, has a wordless cameo in series 2 episode 1.
  • Disabled Snarker: Brian.
  • Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: BRIAN.
  • Dodgy Toupee: Frank Cartwright, owner of Le Ponderosa. When Brian meets him for the first time since his accident:
    Frank: "What happened to your legs?"
    Brian: "What happened to your head? You were bald last time I saw you!"
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: After Brian talks of an upcoming night of passion with his beau, she's shown from a POV view bouncing up and down on top... of the edge of his new water bed.
    • Similarly, when Brian is talking excitedly on the phone, hands under the desk... turns out he's polishing his glasses while giving a visitor directions to the club.
  • Engineered Public Confession: How Den Perry gets his come-uppance at the end of the second season.
  • Escape Artist: One of the auditioning acts. It goes terribly.

  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Involving feeding the ducks, being rude to rose sellers, paintball, and karaoke.
  • Fan Disservice: Jerry St. Clair's exposed arse, centre frame.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Crimetime is a homage to Crimewatch. The theme tune is a pastiche, and the presenter even says "don't have bad dreams" (instead of "don't have nightmares") at the end.
  • Flanderization: In the main show, Max is a tough bouncer who occasionally shows a softer side. In the spin off, the softer side is all that's left.
  • Foreshadowing: Done quite well with the fire inspector's visit, which foreshadows the club being burned down at the end of series 1. It also explains why there were no smoke alarms when the club was set on fire.
  • Giver of Lame Names: Everyone.
  • Had the Silly Thing in Reverse: Max intends to reverse the box van, but actually drives forward into a wall.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: 'Next!'
  • Holding It for a Friend: Brian's showing his date his holiday video, when the fireworks display suddenly cuts to porn. He immediately launches into "It's Jerry's tape".
  • Honest John's Dealership: Eric's 'Games sans Frontiers', responsible for Sammy the Snake, a Das Boot fruit machine (responsible for a hilarious scene in which someone wins "Achtung! Das Jackpot!" complete with a synthesised chorus of Deutschland uber Alles... during the wake of the Captain, a World War II veteran) and a 6-foot Ker-plunk set among others.
  • Hypochondria: Jerry St Clair. He sometimes make things worse by taking a heap of pills and herbal supplements.
    Brian: "You're a bloody hypodermic Jerry!"
    Jerry: "A what?"
    Brian: "Well, y'are! Worried about this and worried about that. You wanna try walking a mile in my shoes."
  • The Illegal: The two Chinese men from the duty free shop in Calais literally stow away in Max and Paddy's van. They're put to work in the club's kitchens.
  • Immediate Sequel: Series 2 starts where series 1 finished... then has a small Time Skip.
  • Inflationary Dialogue: When the horse relieves itself all over the club's cork floor, Brian complains to Jerry that the floor cost 30 grand (£30,000). Talking to Wild Bill (the horse's handler), it's suddenly 40 grand. Talking to the police at the end, the floor's now worth 45 grand.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Not at all the case with Brian, whose struggles to get around and get things done aren't glossed over but who's rude, abrasive and only ever mentions his disability to get his way or derail an argument.
  • Instant Home Delivery: Armchair Super Store. Not quite instant, but the timeline of series 1 episode 3 suggests that people can order and receive goods from the shopping channel within hours.
  • Japanese Ranguage: The English cast of 'Karate Kid the Musical', and the Japanese Kamikaze Lager salespeople.
  • Jar Potty: Being paralyzed from the waist down, Brian uses a drinks bottle to save getting out of bed at night.
  • Jerkass: Brian himself, but compared with the bullying, swaggering, loutish Den Perry he's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: For a twelve episode Brit Com, anyway. There's Brian, Jerry, Max, Paddy, Ray Von, Holy Mary, Kenny, Young Kenny, Les, Alan, Ant & Dec, Marion, Joyce and Spencer (and those are just the club staff).
  • Loads and Loads of Roles: Peter Kay
  • Malaproper: Brian Potter frequently, e.g. 'St. Paul on the road to Domestos'
  • Manipulative Bastard: Brian, especially when he gets around his newly-imposed ban on running the club by manipulating Jerry into doing it.
  • The Mole: Beverley was sent to investigate Brian Potter for possible fraudulent benefit claims... and falls for him, Becoming the Mask.
  • Not a Mask: Young Kenny gets face-painted as a tiger at the family fun day... the artist uses spray paint and a cardboard template. It doesn't come off. For the rest of the series, Kenny has to cover it with make-up.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat / Knight Templar Keith Lard.
  • Oh, Crap!: Den Perry in the last episode of season two when he realizes he's been manipulated into an Engineered Public Confession by Brian. He tries giving the audience his typical smug smirk, but it's looking very watery at that point.
  • Once an Episode: In the first series, something gets stolen from the club in every episode.
    • Also, at the end of every episode there's an audition by an appallingly bad or inappropriate act, which is dismissed with a loud 'Next!'. Out of the twelve shown, only one is successfully booked (because they were So Bad, It's Good), and one auditionee shows up twice.
  • One Steve Limit: Played with. Two club regulars are Kenny Senior and Young Kenny. They're not suggested to be related.
    • Also Holly Mary and her daughter young Mary.
  • Oop North: The show is set in Bolton, Lancashire.
  • "Open!" Says Me: Attempted by Jerry at Brian's request, when the latter is trapped in his own home.
  • Overly Stereotypical Disguise: Max and Paddy dress as priests "bringing in alter wine" to smuggle booze through customs, complete with hat, gown and rosary beads. Meanwhile, some real priests are being arrested for something ahead of them, wearing dog collars, but otherwise in dark tops and blue jeans.
  • The Pawn: While Jerry is made the licensee, Brian is still very much in charge. Subverted when Jerry starts to use his position as a bartering chip.
  • Phony Psychic: Clinton Baptiste. Watch him fudge people's names and change his "messages" repeatedly.
    • Oddly, one of his wild suggestions is that Brian can walk... which was an abandoned plot line.
  • The Plan: The pub quiz which backfires when the prize of a year's supply of Japanese "Kamikaze" lager turns out to be non-alcoholic.
  • Playing Sick: Potter forces his compere to pretend that he's dying - it's the only way he could win the contract to host the talent contest. He even makes him wear a baseball cap, to 'look more ill'.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: Sort Of. Notice how the last 2 episodes of Series 2 feature Max & Paddy much more heavily than the rest of the series. Fast forward 2 years and the duo get their own Spin-Off in Max & Paddy's Road To Nowhere which revolves around travelling in the motorhome Max buys at the end of Phoenix Nights.
  • Potty Failure: Brian is stuck in his stairlift overnight due to a power failure. When rescued, he tells a questioning Jerry to ignore the smell... it's made clear what the smell was later on.
    Brian: "Don't you think I'm traumatised enough with what I've been through?"
    Ray: "I heard about that. Are you all right? You must have shit yourself."
    Brian (to Jerry): "...Thank you, big mouth! Didn't take long, did it?"
  • Precision F-Strike: The F-word only comes up once in each series. In series 1, when Brian's on a date and a waiter asks him to buy a "flower for the lady" he replies "fuck off".note . In series 2, he says the same thing to an auditioning act.
  • Prison Rape:
    Den: "Ah, but what's your motivation?"
    Brian: "I've got plenty of motivation, fat boy. Seeing you in jail. Biting a pillow on D Wing."
  • Punny Name: A lot of the acts, and Ray Von (R-r-r-rave on!)
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The start of the second series, after the Phoenix Club is burned down.
  • Raging Stiffie: Taken Up to Eleven with Sammy the Snake.
  • Rapid Hair Growth: Fed up of all the 'going bald' jabs, Paddy tries some "spray-on hair" from the shopping channel. He gains jheri curls in seconds.
  • Rare Guns: Max's Broomhandle Mauser, which he uses to try and carry out a hit in the second series. Alas, he can't quite bring himself to do it.
  • Rigged Contest: The "Phoenix Corral" quick-draw contest: Even when Lancashire fires a full second after (neighboring) Yorkshire, Lancashire is declared the winner.note 
  • Running Gag: Bob Carolgees, continued from That Peter Kay Thing.
  • The Scrooge: Brian Potter. He loves to cut corners at every turn to save a bit of money, and wring as much money out of customers as possible.
    • When pitching the Crappy Carnival for the charity fun day, he says "Whatever you'd normally charge, double it. Today's about money." (Jerry replies, "I thought this was about raising the club's profile?")
    • He also sells "memorabilia" from when the club burnt down... not only items like the burnt ashtrays cost £4 each, they're being freshly 'cooked' in the back yard.
    • The club has a colour photocopy of a fire safety certificate. Their crooked inspector is fired, leading to Keith Lard.
    • Even the jukebox in Brian's front room still needs money inserting to play. He asks his girlfriend for change.
    • Potter's excuse is that his insurance premiums are through the roof, due to the Phoenix being his third club (and this is before it burnt down at the end of series 1). Although since Jerry took over as licensee, the premiums should be more reasonable.
    • All the staff conspire to keep the expensive stage lights that belonged to the Crimetime production crew.
      • The staff also try to use a crime reconstruction programme as free advertising for the club.
    "Thank you, that is a lovely, silky-smooth pint."
    "Here is your change, madam."
    "Oh, no, that's too much [change]!"
  • Seinfeldian Conversation Max and Paddy fill most of their nights with inane but hilarious ramblings about 'classic' films.
  • Sequel Hook: When the club catches on fire at the end of series 1.
  • Serious Business: Talent Trek, and the quiz night.
  • Shared Universe: Set in the same universe as Coronation Street, if the floral tribute to Alan Bradley on the Promenade at Blackpool is anything to go by.
    • As long as you ignore Ray Von's girlfriend and Shelly Unwin being played by the same person, although Peter Kay plays three visiblenote  roles in Phoenix Nights and had two in Coronation Street so it works out in a way.
  • Shout-Out: Series 2 has a few shout outs to Peter Kay's own stand-up material.
    • "Garlic Bread?"
    • Max and Paddy are delighted to find 'Les Cadbury's Fingres' in France.
    • The robbers on Crimetime reconstructions using family-friendly language.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: Paddy talking about personal hygiene:
    Paddy: "Prostitutes are rough in Amsterdam. One made me wash my old man in't sink."
    Max: " took your dad?!"
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Den Perry, as the owner of rival club Banana Grove. Though he becomes much more than this when he burns down the Phoenix Club at the end of the first series.
  • So Unfunny, It's Funny: After sitting through the alternative comedy, Jerry's barrage of corny jokes go down a storm with the audience.
  • Song Parody: Jerry's job as supermarket promoter involves a couple of these. 'Men in Black' becomes 'black bin bags', and 'Call Me' turns into 'corned beef'.
  • Spin-Off: This is a spin-off of That Peter Kay Thing, and got its own spin-off/sequel later on.
  • Stage Names: It's Jerry "The Saint" St Clair for his prestigious position of Phoenix Club compere. Otherwise, he's Mr Jerry Dignan.
    Alternative Comedian: "Who's The Saint?"
    Brian: "Him, out there, trying to sing. Watch and learn, he's forgotten more than you lot know."
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: 'The Whole Of The Moon' plays on the radio while Jerry lies on the table for his colonscopy... with his backside on full display through his backless medical gown.
  • Tall Tale: Kenny Senior is a pathological liar. The majority of the anecdotes he tells are so ridiculous - Sleeping with Bonnie Langford, collecting paint cans from Jackie Chan, being friendly with the SAS - that nobody believes a word he says.
  • That Liar Lies: Kenny Senior isn't called out often, but at one point Potter runs out of patience.
    Kenny: "I'm very friendly with the SAS."
    Brian: "But you see, you're not, Kenny!"
  • Unfortunate Name: Kenny Senior gives his name in court as Kenny Dalglish. It's never revealed if he really shares a name with the famous footballer, but considering Brian's reaction, it's another lie.
    • In Max & Paddy's Road To Nowhere, Max (The Bouncer) also goes to court, giving the name Maxwell Bygraves. Judging by his embarrassment, this may be his genuine birth name.
  • Unperson: Marion vanishes before the end of series one, and come series two she's been replaced by Joyce and the rest of the cast act like she was always there. To hammer this trope home even more, Brian is shown holding a framed version of the page image where Joyce's face has been photoshopped over Marion's. Basically, for whatever reason, Marion never existed as far as series two is concerned.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Beverley claims that she really did grow to care for Brian after being sent to investigate him. Brian turns her away.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Attractions are often poorly matched to their audience, such as Ray Von's blasting hardcore dance music at a roomful of pensioners.
  • Younger Than They Look: Jerry gets out of a speeding ticket by claiming that Brian is his Dad. Despite both looking around the same age (and both having grey hair), the policemen doesn't bat an eyelid.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Blink and you'll miss it - Leslie can be seen slipping his wedding ring off at the singles night.
  • Zerg Rush: Max and Paddy vs. all-dwarfism Football Hooligans stag party.


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