AFTER more than a year of lockdown, John Bishop returned to stand-up earlier this summer in a most unlikely location – on a cruise ship.

John is embarking on Right Here, Right Now, a huge new nationwide tour this autumn, takes up the story. “This company phoned up and invited me to perform on a cruise ship that was touring round the British Isles.

“At first I said, ‘I love Jane McDonald’s shows, but I can’t imagine playing on a cruise ship’. But this was in June, before anything else was really open, and they said the cruise would definitely take place, and that’s what won me over. The thought of performing again was a big attraction for me.”

The cruise went from Southampton to John's home town of Liverpool.

He's back at 02 Guildhall on November 12.

After enjoying enormous success on TV, he's looking forward to going back to his first love - stand up.

“Laughter is so important, and there's not been enough of it. I won’t say there is an impending mental health crisis or anything like that. But we all know that we've got to flush out more of the consequences of what's been going on.

“One of the things we have to deal with is the fact that as human beings we have lost the art of normal interaction. My wife Melanie and I managed to get away on holiday to Mallorca recently. On the fourth day, she said to me, ‘this is ridiculous. Just look at you. You've lost the ability to eat in public. You've got food all over your face. For two years you've been able to shovel it in without anyone being there.’

"I sensed that as well at the few gigs that I have done. People reconnected to a memory that they could sit next to someone they didn't know without social distancing or face masks or sanitising. That’s a big step for people to take now.”

In Right Here, Right Now, John will be touching on the topic of Covid – it is impossible to avoid it – but it won’t be dominating the show. “It’s got to be mentioned because it's a universal experience. Like anything else that you've all been through, you've got to acknowledge it.

"But we all want to move on from Covid now. I think the audience also want to be reminded of life before and after the pandemic.

"The news agenda for 18 months has been so depressing, so any lightness we can bring that moves away from that is going to be good. Having performers come on stage and just create new energy benefits everyone.”

Tickets are on sale now.