FOR a former goalkeeper who was denied a place in an England youth squad by Peter Shilton, Mick Miller hasn’t done too badly with his second career in comedy.

For 40 years, Mick has been one of the country’s leading stand-ups, from the early TV days on The Comedians to guest appearances with the modern breed of comedians such as Jason Manford and John Bishop.

When we speak he’s just returned from entertaining on a cruise in the Mediterranean and he’s preparing to go on another.

“Don’t be fooled,” he laughs. “It’s not a glamorous as you think, it’s hard work.

“In many instances the cruise ships have replaced the clubs as far as regular work is concerned. The clubs that have moved with the times have survived and some are doing really well but many have gone by the wayside.”

Mick will be appearing at the Thwaites Empire Theatre in Blackburn later this month.

“When I first started out I would regularly play clubs around Blackburn and Burnley,” he said. “I love coming back to the Thwaites Theatre as it’s run by people who care what they do and are passionate about the place. It’s a true theatre for the community and it’s also a great, intimate space to perform in. The audience is right there in front of you, you can really connect with them, which is so important in comedy.”

Mick has seen comedians come and go but still manages to be one of the most respected figures on the circuit.

“People like me and Jimmy Cricket have got longevity,” he said. “You do have to keep up with the times but to me people often over-analyse things. If something is funny then it’s funny, simple as that. I don’t go in for swearing, hoping that using strong language will make people laugh. That’s not comedy.”

As if to prove the point, Mick and Jimmy were surprise hits at the Edinburgh Festival with their own stand-up show. Subsequently Mick has appeared on both TV and radio with the current crop of stand-ups, consistently outshining them.

“Many modern comedians do respect those of us from the older generation,” he said. “There is a skill in making people laugh.”

Mick has a vast repertoire of jokes to choose from, having spent so many years in the business.

“I do have them all written down,” he said. “I keep them in my thinking place, the downstairs loo.

“I also keep track of all the shows I’ve done and which jokes I’ve used because I don’t want an audience having the same things twice.

“With a show I will perhaps have a beginning and an end planned but very often it depends on the night, on the audience and how they respond as to what I’ll do.

“I do have to keep my Noddy routine in most shows as fans have almost come to expect it and would be disappointed if I didn’t.”

Mick’s autobiography From Goals to Gags is out now.

Mick Miller, Thwaites Empire Theatre, Blackburn, Sunday, May 25. Details from 01254 685500.