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'League of Gentlemen' writer Jeremy Dyson
"Comedy is quite a vicious thing"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 31 January, 2001, 09:33 GMT
Fire officer fumes over comedy
Keith Laird and Keith Lard
Keith Laird [L] was shocked to see Keith Lard [R] on TV
Channel 4 has paid compensation to a fire safety officer after he complained that a character in new comedy Phoenix Nights was based on him.

Keith Laird, who works for Bolton Council, complained about a character called Keith Lard who appeared in an epsiode of the show, starring comedian Peter Kay.

Peter Kay
Peter Kay in Phoenix Nights: A new series is about to be written

Lard has a bushy moustache, wears a luminous yellow jacket - like Mr Laird - and has an over-zealous approach to fire safety.

Mr Laird was shocked when the fictional fire officer was portrayed as having an interest in bestiality.

Channel 4 has since apologised to Mr Laird. Mr Kay, who is also from Bolton and created the character, stressed that Lard was fictional.

A spokesman for Channel 4 said: "Channel 4 and Peter Kay would like to state that the character of Keith Lard may have led some persons to wrongly believe that the character was based on Mr Keith Laird.

"We wish to make it clear that this was not the case and would like to apologise to Mr Laird and his family for the distress caused."

It is reported that a figure of 10,000 was split between Mr Laird and other organisations.

The controversial episode is due to be repeated on Thursday night, with the blessing of Mr Laird.

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