Danny Baker had it all worked out. He and his wife Wendy were going to retire and move to sunnier climes in Portugal. But then something happened
“When I was promoting my last book, I did a couple of festivals and they sold out really quickly. I did them, and I enjoyed them, and people turned up. I said, ‘Do you know what? Let’s do a couple of them in London, just telling the stories out the books.’
“The books are fine and great, and the TV series were fine and great. But I still tell the stories first hand, and that’s how they work best. Anyway, the shows sold out immediately. So the two dates become five, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50.”
What is most extraordinary about his first show – entitled Cradle To The Stage – is that Danny, 61, only covered a fraction of his upbringing in south London.
“I hadn’t even left school by the end of the three-hour shows. I had 48 photos to show people. We got through six.”
Danny still had an absolute wealth of stories to recount, but initially he wasn’t convinced he should do another tour.
“The promoters asked, ‘Do you want to go again?’ I replied, ‘I’m not so sure.’ Then the first cheque came in from the tour, and I said, ‘Let’s go again’.”
Danny has decided to take the show on the road once again. He is coming to York on April 29 and Bradford in May with his new show, Good Time Charlie’s Back! Performing live certainly plays to Danny’s strengths. Responsible for the hugely popular BBC2 sitcom, Cradle to Grave, based on the first volume of his bestselling autobiography, he is a gifted off-the-cuff performer who has no need for direction or a script. Danny, who can be heard on Saturday mornings on his multi award winning BBC Radio 5 Live show, clearly relishes the live experience.
“I have an ebullience that some people find annoying, but I’ve said it many times, I’m very shallow. That has become a bad thing, but it’s not in my book.
“One of the myths about me is that I’m ‘very London’. But on the last tour, I went to Yorkshire four times, Manchester three times. I went right up into the North East – and we sold out everywhere. I think my stories are unique and universal.”
However, Danny does not wish Good Time Charlie’s Back! to be seen as didactic. “There’s no great social message in it,” he says. “I’m not raising awareness about anything. I wouldn’t know how to, and I don’t think people want that. “The books and the stage shows are the culmination of a pretty peculiar life. Fortunately, I’ve never hitched my career to any one style’But I’ve always had – if you will forgive the Noel Coward reference – a talent to amuse.”
www.dannybakerlive.com for venues, dates and tickets