Paddy McGuinness: Saturday Night Live

These are the programme notes I wrote for Paddy’s 2011 Saturday Night Live tour.

paddy mcguinness poster

Can it really be 10 years since Phoenix Nights was first on TV? Has it been a full decade since Peter Kay brought us his vision of Brian Potter, the Phoenix Club and the motley cast of characters inhabiting Bolton’s most celebrated bolt-hole? It can and it is. It was 2001 when we were first introduced to Brian, Jerry St. Clair, Ray Von, Los Alanos, Kenny Snr, Young Kenny, Holy Mary, Den Perry and, of course, the most famous brace of bouncers in club land – Max and Paddy.

In the intervening years the actors and performers who brought those much-loved characters to life have gone on to claim success in their own right; some continued in TV, some moved onto stand-up, some did both. Only Peter Kay himself seems to have disappeared off the radar – What, we wonder, happened to him? Where is he now?

Perhaps the most high-profile success of any of the entire Phoenix Nights alumni (oh, alright, apart from Peter Kay) has been enjoyed by the man you’re here to see tonight: Paddy McGuinness.

Rewind to the start of the 00’s and we find that the young – or, at least, younger – Patrick Joseph McGuinness had tried his hand at many a trade. He’d been a waiter, a warehouseman, a labourer, a holiday rep and a lifeguard – but none of these trades stuck, none satisfied his keen mind, quick wit and desire to perform.

His old school mate Peter Kay had employed him in some of his fledgling TV excursions but the odd guest spot was not providing secure enough employment for Paddy to be able to give up his string of unsatisfying jobs. Then Peter wrote the part of Paddy the lothario bouncer for him in his upcoming Channel 4 sitcom and fate took care of the rest. After two series and numerous awards for the show, Paddy (the man, not the character) was confident enough in his onscreen talents to believe that he had finally found his métier. His full-time day job was now to be – performing.

Fast forward a few years. By the time the decade finished Paddy was firmly established as a sitcom, stand-up and TV star and these days, with the phenomenal success of ITV’s Take Me Out, is even a bone fide, grade-A much-beloved TV game show host. Who’d have predicted that when Phoenix Nights first aired?

And here we are, autumn 2011, and Paddy is booked to play his first full-scale arena tour. How are things going? What can we expect from the show? What’s your favourite biscuit? Only one man can answer these questions. We found Paddy during preparations for the tour and cornered him for a chat and a catch up. So, Mr. McGuinness, it sounds like the last decade has been quite a ride?

‘10 years!’ exclaims Paddy from the comfort of his Bolton home. ‘Where does the time go, eh? One minute you’re a young whippersnapper wrestling dwarves outside the Phoenix Club, the next you’re hosting a Saturday night dating show on prime time TV. I’ve got some great memories from the past ten years. Unfortunately a super-injunction stops me from talking about them.’

They’re memories that everyone can readily share as most of them were formed while making some very popular, very public projects. As well as the aforementioned Phoenix Nights and Take Me Out, Paddy has also – deep breath – starred in and co-wrote Phoenix Nights spin-off Max and Paddy’s Road To Nowhere, taken on numerous sporting challenges (against deceptively intelligent but utterly unfit opponent Rory McGrath) in two series of Channel 5’s Rory and Paddy’s Great British Adventure, made a work-out video, performed a (frankly disturbing) dance version of ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’ with Keith Lemon for Comic Relief, hosted celebrity Arctic challenge show 71 Degrees North for ITV, written a book (My Guide To The North), appeared in panto with Robbie Williams, in a string of celebrated TV ads with some pies, toured extensively with his own Dark Side and Plus You! tours and recorded and released three best-selling live DVD’s.

With all this very public success, it’s surprising that, when the last series of Take Me Out came to an end, Paddy’s Dad thought it necessary to offer his son a loan! ‘Ha-Ha, that was true.’ Paddy confirms, ‘My dad is in his 80’s and very old school. If I’m not doing Take Me Out, he automatically thinks that I must be signing on. No good telling him about the arena tour or any other TV work that I do, it’ll be lost on him.’

Perhaps this current Saturday Night Live tour will convince McGuinness Snr that his lad can finally stand on his own two feet. It’s easily the biggest jaunt that Paddy’s yet undertaken, if only in terms of the size of the venues. Nine big gigs in nine very big rooms; daunting for a rock band, never mind a one-man-band. So how does he intend to make a connection to the people right at the back of these huge arenas? Paddy has a plan… ‘There is a point during all the arena dates were I interact and connect with every single person in the room. Oh, and we’re also going to have a game of Take Me Out at some point during proceedings. I’ve always enjoyed a bit of audience interaction and, like Jeremy Kyle on a council estate, that’s when I’m at my happiest.’

Maybe he could get the audience to arrive dressed for the occasion? To enhance the atmosphere, Prince once famously asked his audience to come to gigs dressed only in peach-coloured clothing. ‘I think not’ chortles Paddy, ‘Considering Prince makes Susan Boyle look sane, I won’t be taking a leaf out of his audience prerequisite. Also, I’m playing Glasgow and the North East, would you want to tell a few thousand Scots and Geordies to dress in peach?!’

Fair point, but now you’re a big star, what about strange requests for your rider (that’s showbiz talk for backstage refreshments)? Steak and caviar pies, perhaps or Tunnock caramel wafers in gold wrappers? ‘I’m very partial to a Nandos. By God, it’s morish, and I do enjoy a Fox’s Party Ring. In fact, I pretty much enjoy all kinds of biscuits but I can take or leave a bourbon.’

What about surprises in the new show? Any plans to do impressions or singing or sword swallowing? This question brings a very reasonable response. ‘Have you been drinking? Has he been drinking?’

OK, so no new, unexpected developments in the act, no strange backstage demands and no getting the audience to dress up; what about the location of the venues? They all seem to be in the North. Was this deliberate or was it simply that no-one noticed when the tour was being organised? ‘I only had October free and after being in the Arctic (shooting the second series of 71 Degrees North) for a month earlier this year, I had a disclaimer put in my contract. I can now never be more than an hour and a half away from home! Having said that, we’ve all got mortgages, and I’m looking forward to doing the rest of the UK sometime in 2012.’ He then realises he may have said too much and adds, ‘Ssshhh, that’s just between us.’

So, Paddy has this Autumn tour and a new series of 71 Degrees North on TV right now, but what can we expect in 2012? ‘Well, the new series of Take Me Out will be on; I’ve got a new comedy panel show that I’m very excited about. I’ll hopefully be back on the road with this tour and, weather permitting, I’m looking forward to getting a new shed for the back yard.’

Big plans, but the shed sounds like a bit of a pipe dream, to be honest – he’ll never find the time. Finally, as the success of Take Me Out means Paddy is now challenging fellow cheeky-chappy Northerners Ant & Dec for the title of ‘Mr Saturday Night’, does he think he can steal their crown anytime soon? ‘You’ll never beat those two cheeky scamps when it comes to Saturday night TV. To be mentioned in the same breath is very flattering but for the time being I’m still on a learning curve. I’ve always loved Saturday night TV and, by Thor’s hammer, long may it continue.’

Long may it continue, indeed, and with all the irons he has in the fire who would bet against a resourceful chap like Paddy managing to forge his own hammer if Thor’s isn’t up to the job?

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Saturday Night Live tour. Enjoy your evening, folks. It’s been at least 10 years in the making.

 

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