James Rampton catches up with funny man John Bishop who takes to the stage at Southampton Mayflower Theatre tonight and the BIC on March 24.

John Bishop’s brilliant new live show, which is set to split sides all over the country, is called Winging It.

So where did that excellent title come from? John takes up the story. “You have to come up with a title for every tour. I was in my promoter’s office one day, and he said to me, ‘We need a title so we can start selling this tour. What are you talking about in the new show?’ And I replied, ‘Nothing. I’m just winging it.’ ‘That’ll do!’”

This is typical of the delightful honesty and warm, open sense of humour that have made John one of our very best loved comedians. It is this sheer likeability that means he can sell out arenas in the blink of an eye.

John is just as entertaining off stage as he is on it. He can be summed up by all those adjectives beginning with C: charming, charismatic, compelling, captivating and comic. An hour in his company is like being treated to a command performance – to an audience of one!

The comedian, who turned 50 last year, manifests that quality that we Brits prize perhaps above all others: self-deprecation. He is winningly modest about his stand-up success, which came relatively late in life, as he only gave up his full-time job as a medical representative for a pharmaceutical company a decade ago.

It is very appealing that even today the comic can’t quite credit his luck. “I still can’t believe that I do this as a job!” John almost whistles in wonderment. “I still think, ‘This is amazing!’ I wrote a book four years ago about that very feeling – that’s why it was called, ‘How Did All This Happen?’

“But now I realise this is the reality. It’s not going to go away. There is no chance that I could never ever go back. Whatever life I had in the past, I’m now officially in showbiz. I will retire from showbiz, or it will retire me!”

The great thing is, John has never become jaded about his career as a stand-up. He still possesses an infectious passion for the job. And that’s why he cannot contain his excitement about the Winging It tour.

Despite establishing an extensive TV career, he declares that stand-up has always been his first love. “I sometimes feel that maybe I don’t need TV. But I can never see myself not wanting to do live stand-up.

“There is probably a real scientific explanation for it. I was recently reading a report about how people are hung up on social media. We get a dopamine rush when we get so many ‘likes’ on Facebook. Being on stage is the same.

“When you say something funny on stage, you get your judgement instantly. You get joy and affirmation straight away. You don’t have to think about it. It’s either funny or not. You’re only ever four words away from joy or the fear that nobody will laugh. You’re always only four words away from success or failure. That’s a brilliant tightrope to walk. That gives me an absolutely huge buzz.”

John, who is happily married to Melanie and has three grown-up sons, goes on to reveal what subjects he will be covering in Winging It. “The show has three themes. I start by talking about being 50. It never struck me as being a big thing before, but now I realise that being 50 is like being five.

‘’At five people say things like ‘that’s good for your age’, they start saying that to you again when you’re 50. ‘That’s good for your age, you can carry your own bag, well done that’s good for your age.’”

The comic, who has also shone in straight acting roles in Fearless, Accused and Route Irish, says the second part of the show is about kids leaving home, something he admits he struggled with himself, while the third theme is mortality, "a thing you think about when you know you have already passed half way in your life".

Somehow, the comedian has managed to find the time to film the third series of John Bishop: In Conversation With, his enormously popular talk show on W but as he approaches his first national tour for three years, his focus is on re-establishing the rapport with his loyal fans.

"I’m very fortunate that people of all ages come to my shows. It’s great to have a relationship with them," he says.

"The key is to remain plugged into the normal world. Once you start being removed from that, you run out of things to talk about.”