Interview: Count Arthur Strong

Count Arthur Strong, fresh from Radio 4, he is about to cause chaos at Norwich Playhouse with his malapropisms, select memory loss and general delusions of grandeur. ABIGAIL SALTMARSH caught up with him.

One time variety star Count Arthur Strong's latest show is so new, not even he knows he's doing it yet. Don't worry about that though, it's never stopped him before.

Comedian Steve Delaney created the character in the 1980s as a drama student. He revived him in the late 1990s for the Edinburgh Fringe before moving on to other performing roles. But thankfully he revived the spoonerism prone former music hall star for Radio 4's Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show.

The Sony Award-winning weekly show focuses on a typically confused and muddled 'day in the life' of the Count — be it solving a mystery concerning a missing cauliflower or a book signing at a local butcher's shop. His is a self-confessed expert in everything from the world of entertainment.

There is talk of the show transferring on to TV and ahead of his Norwich visit — over two nights suggests his popularity is increasing — we caught up with the man producers really wanted to play James Bond.

Q: You have performed in Norwich on a number of occasions, what do you think of the place?

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A: Oh I love it. And the good burghers of the city of Norwich have always been delightful. And I like a burger. Not every day. I do like to eat a varied diet, but once in a while its not going to kill me is it?

Q: Do you have memories of it from your heyday, when you were a younger performer?

A: Yes I probably do. What sort of question is that?

Q: Is Norwich your first stop on this tour - why did you choose it as your starting point?

A: It is the first stop and we have to stop somewhere. Or start. I'm not sure. It may have been alphabetic?

Q: What treats can we expect from the show?

A: Well I can't give too much away, but I may be joined by some of the top names in show business! If they get the letters. Anyway if they don't I'm in it, so you know, that's got to be worth the ticket money. It's only about a pound. Get your hand in your pocket.

Q: I understand you are soon to publish your diaries, what do you think will make them so fascinating for us to read?

A: I've had such a fascinating life. Just listen to this entry from my diaries if you don't believe me: January 12th, 1963. 9am. 'Get batteries.' And there's plenty more of that. Or there will be when I write the next page.

Q: You seem to have been busy with many other projects recently too, including your radio work, can you tell us about some of these?

A: Well yes you're right, I'm terribly busy. I don't get time to sit down these days, never mind stand up. My radio show takes me half the year and the other half I'm writing things like this. We have plans for television but we've not told anyone else yet. It's all very hush, hush.

Q: Which of these have you enjoyed most, and why?

A: My radio series. The snappily titled, Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show! It's just the most fun thing. I love the spoken word. Particularly when it's me that's speaking it, and as I write it there are plenty of those!

Q: What do you think 2011 will have in store for you?

A: Well it will have three hundred and sixty five days in it, I think. At least. And it will be packed full of a lot of things I don't know are going to happen to me. Like a telegram from the Queen perhaps bestowing an honour? Which I would accept. So I can't wait for that to happen.

Q: What, above all else, would you like to achieve in life?

A: Well obviously world peace. That goes without saying. So please ignore that. And I'd like to reduce the carbon in my footprints. I didn't even know I had it. And win the pools. Oh and a doughnut would be nice.

n Count Arthur Strong will be performing at Norwich Playhouse on February 10-11, �16 (�14 cons), 01603 598598,