IN the process of arranging the interview with Bill Bailey I was told I would first have to consult with the keeper of his diary.

For anyone else this would seem to be a bit pretentious, but for Bill, comedian, musician and master of the surreal, it seemed only apt.

“What were you expecting?” asked the man himself with a throaty chuckle. “Some sort of Harry Potter character with a long beard, an owl on his shoulder and a huge ledger and a quill. Sorry to disappoint but you but it’s just me.”

Given his hectic schedule this year you could forgive him for employing someone to keep track of his whereabouts. For Bill will be kept busy through into the summer with his new tour Larks in Transit.

“It is probably one of the most personal shows I’ve done in terms of recollections of my own life but it’s just fun to do. It’s joyous really,” said Bill, a TV regular on QI, Have I Got News for You and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

A master of the major tour - Larks in Transit is Bill’s 12th solo outing around the country - he has never really talked about his own experiences before.

“In the last show I did, Limboland, I told a story about a family holiday to the Northern Lights which went a bit wrong,” he said. “That was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me. I realised there were so many more stories I could tell.

“Most of the time I’m quite a private person and I don’t like to reveal too much about myself in a show. After all there is so much going on in the world, I have plenty of other things I can talk about.

“But it just occurred to me telling that story ‘I’m really enjoying doing this’. I suddenly realised there was a whole untapped source waiting to be discovered so it was time to go there and see what came out of it.”

The results form the basis of Larks in Transit, but long-time fans of the comedian need not fear.

“No, don’t worry,” he said, “it isn’t some raw kind of confessional show by any means. You won’t need therapy at the end of it!

“There is still plenty of silly stuff in there too.”

Given that this will be his 12th show, does Bill ever fear he will run out of material to fill two hours on stage?

“For this show in particular it has been a question what to leave out,” he said. “I’ve spent ages agonising over that. But that’s what writing is often about - it’s the process of sifting, refining and editing everything down to get a coherent narrative that you can tell over a couple of hours.”

Anyone who has seen Bill perform live will tell you, the one thing his shows don’t appear to be is tightly scripted. It’s the way his undeniably sharp mind flits from subject to subject, often heading off on tangents leaving you - and you suspect him - wondering where it will end.

“What helps me get up in the morning is that I constantly want to think of new ideas and tell new stories,” he said. “I always want the show to be in a fluid state.

“I don’t want it to become too polished so that it becomes a thing that you say every night. If you do that it just becomes a bunch of words.

“It should be a bunch of tales and stories and musical interludes that happen in a different form every night.

“To me that’s what really excites me because I don’t quite know how this is going to go, I don’t even know what order I’m going to do it in. Of course that drives my technical people mad. They are all looking at me wondering where I’m going to go next - it keeps them on their toes.

“Of course you do have to have some kind of structure but once you have a rough framework it then allows you to go off piste a little and have a bit of banter with the audience.

“I like the idea of going off road a little and getting lost - I always seem to find my way back eventually.”

Music always plays a key part of any Bill Bailey show and for Larks in Transit as well as piano and guitar, Bill will be introducing two new instruments.

“I’ve got a new digitised theremin, an extraordinary thing, which has opened up all these new sounds and scales,” he said. “And then there’s an old English instrument called a cittern which is like a 10-string lute which produces this wonderfully warm sound. I’ve been struggling to play it for the past year but I’ve finally mastered it now.”

Bill Bailey, Larks in Transit, King George’s Hall, Blackburn, Monday, March 19 and Tuesday, March 20. Details from 0844 847 1664 or