Sharing a ride to work has never been so popular thanks to shows such as James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke and BBC One’s latest runaway hit, Car Share.
In 2015, the comedy series, starring Peter Kay and Sian Gibson, became an unlikely phenomenon as one of the BBC’s biggest hits and the year’s most watched new sitcom.
The premise? Two supermarket colleagues, John Redmond (Kay) and Kayleigh Kitson (Gibson) are partnered up in a compulsory carpool scheme. Driving around in a red Fiat 500 to the pop-tastic sounds of fictional radio station Forever FM, the pair share hilarious, vulgar and tender moments throughout their commute.
The straightforward, but sharply scripted comedy broke BBC records with millions of viewers per episode, as well as scooping awards at the 2016 BAFTAs and National Television Awards.
Over 6 million viewers – around a tenth of the UK population! – tuned in for the second series premiere on April 11th. It’s undoubtedly taken the nation by storm, but here’s what you didn’t know about the cult commute comedy…
The show’s stars didn’t think it would be a hit
Drawing in millions of viewers on both BBC One and iPlayer, and widespread acclaim from critics, the first series of Car Share surpassed all expectations. But the show’s two leading stars never imagined the series would be a success.
“I always believed in Car Share,” said Peter Kay in an interview with The Express. “But I was also worried that viewers may not have the patience to stay with such a simple idea of two people commuting to work – especially in this fast-paced day and age with so many other things to watch.”
Sian Gibson also predicted that viewers wouldn’t stay interested. “Even though I know how much people love Peter, I was still worried that they would just be bored with the two of us stuck in a car and that I might be responsible for Peter’s first TV flop,” she said. “So I was overwhelmed at how much everybody enjoyed the show and the characters.”
Two comedy fans got in touch with Peter Kay for advice – and were signed to help write the whole series
Solihull-based writer Tim Reid and his colleague Paul Coleman shared a passion for comedy after working together as business consultants. As Coleman had worked with Peter Kay before on shows such as Britain’s Got The Pop Factor and Max And Paddy’s Road To Nowhere, they decided to get in touch with Kay for feedback on their work-in-progress. Little did Reid and Coleman know that the comedy legend would be extremely impressed by their efforts.
Tim Reid told the Birmingham Mail: “”We were just hoping [Kay] would give us some feedback and opinions – whether it was a good idea or not and whether the writing was good enough or not. That was our hope – just to get his view on what we had done.”
“So it was a real thrill when he came back and said not only did he really like it but wanted to get involved too. He loved the idea and asked us if we wanted him to work with us on it and you don’t say no to that – he is the best there is.”
Kay and Gibson have been friends for 23 years
The pair became firm friends after meeting at the University of Salford in the ’90s.
“We speak to each other every day anyway so working together just saves our phone bill,” says Gibson. “Our relationship has never changed since our college days. We are still as silly and childish.”
Gibson was working in a call centre when she received the call from Kay to join the cast
was just sick of going to auditions for parts which were three lines.
You know, ‘That’s £1.99 please, love’. I’ve got a mortgage to pay. I was
doing rubbish jobs and it was soul-destroying. There’s only so long you
can go on,” Gibson told The Independent.
Over a year since her last audition, the actress had long given up hope
and was working in a call centre in Chester when she received an email
from her old friend Kay.
“He’s always looked out for me,” she
says. “About a week before we started filming it, I said, ‘I don’t mind
if you want to ask Suranne Jones or Sheridan Smith, you know, one of
those really good actresses, to do this.’ I thought, he can’t just bring
his mate in, surely? I was so scared of letting him down. I think the
BBC thought, ‘who is she?'”
They haven’t cleaned their car since season 1
In the first episode of the latest series, observant viewers noticed the car’s rear window remained just as dirty as it had been in the first series – even with the downpour that occurs later in the episode!