FOR anyone who thought that he was an overnight sensation when he reached the final of Britain's Got Talent, the title of Steve Hewlett's new live show puts the record straight.

Thirty years of Talking to Myself comes to Burnley Mechanics and will see ventriloquist Steve bringing with him an array of colourful characters in a show for all the family.

It marks a return to the Mechanics - Steve was a guest of showbiz legends The Osmonds for their sold out Christmas show last year.

"The people were so great in Burnley," he said, "I can't wait to come back with a full show for them.

"I only get to do about 20 minutes when I'm supporting someone but when I do my own theatre shows I do up to two hours on my own so the audience gets to see the whole of Steve Hewlett, all my characters come out."

These include Arthur Lager, the irascible pensioner who is likely to surprise even Steve with what he says.

"Arthur Lager, my main character, can go anywhere. He opens my mind. He never says the same thing in the show.

"My wife who watches my shows will sometimes say 'I don't know how you did that'. After 17 years together, she's still impressed with how I come up with new stuff.

"I do write live on stage. I find it difficult to sit down with a blank piece of paper. If I remember I record the show and listen to it back if I know I've done a new gag that night.

"Sometimes it doesn't work second time round, it can be that it was just the audience was perfect for that moment.

"But I do surprise myself. Through Arthur I'll say something and I will start laughing because it's the first time I've heard it and then he can't talk because I'm laughing. The audience love it.

"That's the beauty of my job - it's very creative and innovative."

For his new show, Steve does have a framework but will vary the show each night depending on the audience.

"I toured about three years ago and I wrote that show pretty much in advance," he said. "There were jokes I'd been doing for many years. but this time I'm going out on my own, doing my own thing."

Although much of the show may be improvised on the night, Steve is determined to keep it a family show.

"One of my dearest friends was Keith Harris," said Steve. "We were friends for 25 years.

"He always gave me great advice. One of the things he said to me was you can always entertain families and that's what I like to do. It's so nice to see the whole family sat there. I'm a family man, I'd like my children to enjoy themselves. If the kids are happy, the parents are happy."

Steve so impressed the Osmonds on their UK tour last year that they have invited him to perform at their theatre in Missouri over Christmas this year.

"I think they like to have a contrast with their shows," he said. "It's definitely a surprise for the audience to see a man with an older man on his arm. They are either shocked or go 'this is different, it's going to be a laugh'."

To mark his 30 years as a ventriloquist, Steve is currently putting down a mini-autobiography on Facebook covering a year each week.

"The first 10 years was like an apprenticeship," he said. "I was doing talent shows and holiday parks and basically learning how to be a ventriloquist. I beat Duncan from Blue and Omid Djalili in talent contests you know!

"It's fun for the fans to read about where I came from," he said.

Steve Hewlett, Burnley Mechanics, Saturday, July 22. Proceeds from the show will go to the victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack. Details from 01282 664400