DAVE Spikey has helped keep people both happy and healthy during his career.

The comedian spent over 30 years working for the health service, before ending up writing sitcoms, appearing in TV programmes and touring with his own show.

The latest incarnation of the live show is due to go on the road early next year, with appearances at Leeds City Varieties on February 25 and King's Hall in Ilkley on April 29.

Dave was successful in the health service, as Chief Biomedical Scientist in Haematology at the Royal Bolton Hospital, but his career as a comedian has been an amazing story.

Dave was co-writer and co-star of Channel 4’s That Peter Kay Thing and Phoenix Nights, writer and co-star of ITV’s Dead Man Weds and BBC1’s Magnolia, presenter of Bullseye, team captain on four hit series of 8 out of 10 Cats and co-presenter of The TV Book Club.

But, as Dave reveals, when he was younger it wasn’t something he considered.

“I wanted to be a doctor. My dad was a painter and decorator and had an accident at work, I had to leave school. I worked at the hospital for 32 years from 1968 to 2000,” he said.

“While I was there I got into amateur dramatics. I never wanted to be on the stage ever, I wanted to do writing and directing.

"Then one day as a director someone tells you to 'shove it’, so I had to go on stage and do it. I used to get a big buzz out of hearing the laughter, now I was delivering the lines.”

But even after spending time in front of an audience, the decision to go into comedy full time was sparked by a nurse he worked with called Abigail Todd, who, said Dave, insisted on being called Abi. He told her that would make her name Abi Todd which sounded funny!

“She said ‘you should go into comedy’. That was in 1987. I went off doing talent shows, there wasn’t a comedy circuit in 1987 as such,” said Dave.

“I went over to places like Scarborough Opera House – it is a World of Wicker now.

"I spent 13 years doing my job at the hospital then going and doing shows around the country and building up.

“In the mid 1990s I realised I was on a big important medical course in London in St Thomas’ Hospital, and on Sunday night I was with Cannon and Ball at Blackpool Opera House.

"I was working with Max Boyce midweek, and Jack Dee, and Lee Evans at the weekend. I thought ‘how did this happen?’”

In 1996, he met fellow Boltonian Peter Kay. Sharing a similar style and approach to comedy and writing, they went on to form a formidable partnership; collaborating on Mad for the A6; a Granada special, and then on The Services for Channel 4’s Comedy Lab. Shortly after they co-wrote Channel 4’s hit series That Peter Kay Thing, which was awarded ‘Best New TV Comedy’ at the prestigious British Comedy Awards in 2000.

“I bumped into Peter and we started writing together. Peter lived around the corner from the hospital. We hit it off straightaway,” said Dave.

“By 2000 we were doing That Peter Kay Thing. I thought ‘if I don’t do it now I never will’. I had come to the crossroads, or a T-junction really.

“I took a sabbatical from the hospital in case it didn’t pan out. They had to keep my job open for a year because I had been there a long time.

"It was Friday the 13th in the year 2000. I was head of haematology, and two weeks later I was dressed as a berry on stage!

"It was never planned, I just took chances as they came. Then it all escalated. Phoenix Nights, I did one thing and another came up, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Bullseye.

“It wasn’t a tough decision to leave the hospital, although I loved the job. Haematology had really expanded so much and I was there to see it. Then I became chief and I found myself in meetings, doing health and safety, risk assessments... stupid bureaucratic nonsense meetings, so it really happened at the right time.

“With my qualifications if it went wrong I knew I could get another job.”

Dave recalls fondly writing comedy with Peter Kay and Neil Fitzmorris.

“It was brilliant, the whole process, and there was Neil Fitzmorris as well. We hired an office in Bolton to go and write in. It was chaos. I think that is the best way to write a really good sitcom, two or three of you with slightly different views,” said Dave.

“I really enjoyed doing that - we could argue for an hour about what was funniest, a cheese and onion pie or a chicken pie. All the rehearsals and the read-throughs were great - what a brilliant time.”

Dave has already brought stand-up shows to venues across the north in the past 20 years and he is looking forward to performing this year, with his new tour, called A Funny Thing Happened ……. (I shot Derek Rigby).

“Derek Rigby is my best mate but he is an idiot! You need an idiot in your show to tell stories about.

"He is a great bloke, great at maths but he is a literallist, he takes everything literally. If you tell him a funny story and don’t tell him it is a joke, he will believe it. I did shoot him when I was a kid!” said Dave.

“We all see funny things every day. It is my job to highlight them and bring them to your attention.

"People in the audience nudge each other and say ‘that is you’. I have done four shows and it has gone better than I expected. I do two hours."

Dave plans to perform at Leeds City Varieties on February 25 (cityvarieties.co.uk) and King's Hall in Ilkley on April 29 (bradford-theatres.co.uk). Check websites for latest news.