Keith Lard, son of Reenie Lard, was an overzealous and unpleasant jobsworth who worked for Bolton Council as a fire inspector. Obsessed with stressing the importance of fire safety, Keith Lard generally went out of his way to make life difficult for the owners and staff of the venues that he visited. He was also known for several rumours surrounding his private life in regards to a penchant for bestiality.
Lard was first seen holding a meeting with various members of staff at a the Apollo Bingo Hall. During an interview with the filming crew, Lard estimated that he'd trained over 5,000 members of staff about fire safety. During this interview, Keith noted that he worries most of all about the ignorance of the youth toward fire safety and that his job is to teach them.
Keith was intensely disliked by everyone around him, and he usually had to deal with people not taking him seriously and regularly brought along a horn to sound to regain attention. His facts were not always up-to-scratch and on one such occasion, he gave a before and after of a girl who had "died" in a fire with the after picture being that of a melted doll. Part of his talk entailed delivering a true encounter and turning it into a discussion point. Often his audience would make snide remarks about Lard's infamous relations with dogs.
After his group discussions, Keith would enter the building and take a tour. He would sometimes carry a dictaphone, which he would talk into and make notes. He would also tend to be a nuisance by interrupting people's work, pointing out things that were flammable. One notable occasion was disrupting a bingo game to point out that a woman was smoking.
Keith also had a bad reputation with the local fire officers, who found themselves regularly called out to his "emergencies", which sometimes included small, manageable fires that were completely out. According to Lard, it's not within his powers to claim the fire to be out.
At the end of the episode, the manager of the Apollo was notified that Keith had made 6 fire callouts and then was arrested for 'his past catching up with him', presumably relating to dogs. He was released within the next year, after the Phoenix Club incidents.
The Phoenix Club
Whilst giving one of his speeches at the Banana Grove, Lard approached Brian Potter of the Phoenix Club and warned him that he had a last minute fire check. Potter was unable to reach his club in time for his check-up and Lard cruised the building. He ended up closing the club indefinitely, leaving Brian to use sneak tactics and club handyman and DJ Ray Von photoshopped Keith's face onto a picture of a man having sex with an Airedale Terrier. Upon being threatened with the potential release of the picture of him, Lard was forced to reopen the club without a further word spoken about him and his local activities.
His private life
Lard was infamously known for his inappropriate relationships with dogs. This was first noticed by a member of the Apollo Bingo Hall when she picked up a magazine belonging to him, which showed a dog with its lips coloured in to make it look as though it was wearing lipstick.
At some point during his career, Lard was arrested for interfering with dogs but was released due to lack of evidence and technicalities, apparently an Alsatian. Some time before his speech at the Banana Grove a few years after the Bingo incident, Lard was spotted in his car man-handling a spaniel. Although there was no evidence to successfully enable people to report him, Brian Potter was able to blackmail him with a photoshopped picture of him with an Airedale terrier to ensure Lard did not close down his club.
During his talks, people in the audience generally made comments about his bestial activities. When getting angry at an ignorant crowd, a member of the bingo hall muttered "down boy". Later in the talk, he said that putting water on a chip pan fire would make it go up in flames like 'woof'. The members of the audience picked up on this and repeated, laughing. When designing how the club should be, he designed it to look like a dog, leading Brian Potter to believe that he was "obsessed".
Channel 4 and Peter Kay received a very serious complaint from a local Bolton fire inspector by the name of Keith Laird who had had his name tarnished by Kay's character. Channel 4 and Peter Kay split £10,000 between Laird's family and the Fire Service Benevolent Fund as an apology for any damage caused. At the end of the second episode of That Peter Kay Thing, the third episode of Phoenix Nights and on the DVD, Channel 4 displayed this message:
- "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 a Mr. Keith Laird. We wish to make it clear that this is not the case, and would like to apologise to Mr. Laird and his family for the distress caused. We have also agreed to make a donation to the Fire Service Benevolent Fund and to Mr. Laird's family for his and his family's personal distress.
- Mr. Laird's contribution to fire safety in Bolton is well documented and his professionalism and personal integrity are not in any doubt."
Lard had numerous mottos and mantras, which he imparted on his trainees, including:
- Fire doesn't kill, ignorance kills.
- Smoke kills in seconds. Fire kills in minutes.
- There is no smoke without fire.