Julian Clary has just turned 50 but he couldn't be happier.
“I threw a big garden party when I was 50 in May and we had a fab time,” beams the hugely popular comedian. “I'm loving being 50. I'm a much happier person now. I get more content with every decade.”
Julian is relaxing in his dressing room before a show in Newbury. Dressed casually in a green T-shirt and tattered jeans before he dons his fabulous stage outfit, he could pass for a decade and a half younger. He really looks a picture of contentment.
Now Julian, who made a huge splash as a contestant on BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing a couple of years ago, has parlayed hitting 50 into a major theme in his brilliant new live show, Lord of the Mince. The title, he jokes, stems from the fact that, “I have done for mincing what Michael Flatley did for dancing”.
Julian, who still has no peers in the field of joyously camp comedy, enthuses that he is relishing the experience of touring once again. “At first I thought, ‘Do I want to tour at my age? Will anyone turn up? Am I past it?'. But as soon as I got the show on the road, all those doubts evaporated. I'm having a lovely time.” Never more than a minute away from the next joke, Julian deadpans that the one disappointing aspect of his 50th birthday was that he was not accorded loads of TV retrospectives.
“I was expecting all sorts of TV tributes like Bruce Forsyth or Stephen Fry, but I got nothing,” he says with a mock pout. “I suppose I'm not a national treasure. I'm a national trinket.”
The comic, who first made his name 20 ago with his own C4 series, Sticky Moments with Julian Clary, continues that: “As I get older, I'm more and more fearless. I now have this feeling of being able to do all these different things. I'm so relaxed about life, I feel I can do what I like.
“I used to have panic attacks and get anxious about things. But I don't anymore. It's about acquiring a sense of peace and learning to live in the moment.”
That sense of liberation encouraged Julian to take part in Strictly Come Dancing — and he proved a massive hit on BBC1's Reality TV show.
He admits that Strictly Come Dancing has had an enormous impact on his profile. “It's given my career a great boost — it's been a real shot in the arm.”
One of which was going on the arena tour of Strictly Come Dancing earlier this year — an occasion that has proved a rich source of material for Lord of the Mince.
“It was thrilling,” recalls Julian, who has developed a highly successful second career as a novelist — he is planning to write his next one in 2010.
With a smile of satisfaction, Julian concludes that, “I have nothing left to prove. Now I just want to entertain and make people laugh. I think that's what I was put on earth for!”.
And those of you who will be flocking to see Julian’s show in Belfast this month will no doubt agree.