Peter Kay returned to his roots to receive an honorary degree from the University of Salford and gave a typically hilarious performance.
The comedian was given a rapturous reception by graduates and staff at his alma mater, where he completed an HND in Media and Performance in 1996.
(Video: Tom Common)
As he collected a Doctorate of Arts at Salford’s Lowry Theatre, the Phoenix Nights star said: “I’ve turned down a few of these awards over the years.
“But I accepted this one because I actually came here to Salford University, so it really means something.
“When I graduated 20 years ago, I was feeling like many of the graduates here today about going out into the world.
“I knew I could make people laugh but I was frightened in case they wouldn’t laugh. But I knew I would regret it if I didn’t have a go.
“I’m not sure what this Doctorate is exactly – I hope I’m not on a plane when they urgently need a doctor.”
Kay was born and raised in Bolton and began practising stand-up as part of his university course.
After winning the North West Comedian of the Year award in 1997, he made his TV breakthrough with the BAFTA award-winning series Phoenix Nights.
He is a Guinness World Record holder for the most successful comedy tour ever, playing to over 1.2 million people at 140 shows.
And at the 2016 BAFTA awards Kay won Best Male Comedy Performance and Best Scripted Comedy for Car Share, co-starring Sian Gibson, who he met during his time at Salford University and has remained close friends with.
Kay was awarded this honorary doctorate because of his contributions to television and comedy and his ongoing support for the University, via visits and masterclasses.
At a recent talk to students on the Comedy Practices BA degree, he spoke about the techniques used in a range of comedy disciplines such as creating a stand-up routine, TV scriptwriting and character development.
He added: “Salford students are really sitting on a goldmine at MediaCityUK.
“It’s a massive gift for them – they just need to get in there and get on. Nowadays, with HD recording on your iPhone and YouTube as a platform, there’s no excuse not to get your material out there. It’s really bridged the gap between aspiring performers and the TV industry.”
Vice-Chancellor of Salford University, Professor Helen Marshall said: “We are delighted to be awarding one of the UK’s most popular comedians and one of our most high-profile alumni, Peter Kay with an honorary doctorate.
“Peter is a huge comedic talent and an inspirational figure to many. Peter has made a major contribution to one of UK plc’s most important sectors – the entertainment industry – and is a strong supporter of up-and-coming talent as demonstrated in his work with our Arts and Media students.”
Arts and Media courses at the University of Salford have produced a strong of acting and comedic talent including Jason Manford, Christopher Eccleston and Sir Ben Kingsley.