Ahead of BBC1 tribute series, Peter Kay’s Comedy Shuffle, friends and collaborators Sian Gibson, Danny Baker, Reece Shearsmith and Jason Manford tell TV Times what makes Peter Kay a comedy great.

‘Focused and ambitious’







Peter cast his old university friend Sian Gibson in his 2015 comeback vehicle Car Share. It was his first TV sitcom comedy in a decade and broke viewing records for BBC iPlayer.



“Peter took a massive risk casting me as Kayleigh. I was like, ‘Are you sure you don’t want Sheridan Smith?’ But he’s such a genius; he knows what he’s doing,” Sian tells TV Times. “He’s a fantastic actor, too. You can see five thoughts in one expression. When we were in college, we just knew that he would be the one to make it because he was so focused and ambitious.”

 

 ‘A terrific actor’





Radio host and writer Danny Baker chose Peter to play his dad Spud in his BBC2 comedy Cradle to Grave last year.



“I’ve known Peter a long time and I think he’s a terrific actor, set apart from all of his peers,” Danny said. “Ever since I saw him in That Peter Kay Thing, I thought, that’s not a stand-up comedian, that’s an actor. Peter has that quality to be like Ronnie Barker; I think he’s a natural heir to that sort of actor. There was never any doubt that we wanted him to do Cradle to Grave.”

 

‘Warm, human and believable’





Stag, Inside No.9 and Doctor Who star Reece Shearsmith made a hilarious cameo as whiffy Ray the fishmonger in Car Share.



“Peter is a great friend and it’s always a joy to spend time with him,” Reece said. ‘We laughed a lot when filming my scenes as Stink Ray, which despite being totally unprofessional is always a good sign.



“His comedy is warm, human and believable. We laugh so much because he really mines the truth, and his unparalleled skill is to make great, non-cynical comedy with heart.”

 

‘A lovely fella’





Comedian and Ordinary Lies star Jason Manford says Peter took him under his wing and also helped him get into Salford University.



“Peter helped me get started and on the way with advice and contacts. He was always a lovely fella and he was my favourite comedian. He’s so successful, it’s awe-inspiring.”



Peter Kay’s Comedy Shuffle screens on BBC1 on Monday, April 18