BAFTA-nominated entertainer Richard Digance can sing, play guitar, tell stories and make his audience laugh — talents that make him a rare performer who is respected by comedians and musicians alike.

The well-known artist has supported Steve Martin, Robin Williams and played a guitar duet with one of the world’s best guitarist, Brian May of Queen – a performance that he will never forget.

His gig in Oswaldtwistle next month is already a near-sell-out.

Richard’s loyal following confirms his wide appeal; from the younger generation attracted by his guitar playing and the fact he has inspired many of today’s comedians, to the fans who have followed him since his own ITV series graced TV screens, and even further back to his folk club days.

“I never really liked showbiz,” he said. “I liked music and wasn’t interested in TV, but I had to appear on gameshows because it was in my contract and financially it was very rewarding.

“But I always said I was a musician. I never even looked at comedy in the early days.

“When I got onto TV, I got all of the guests on the show who were my musical heroes and who I really admired. All of my dreams came true and I have it all on video,” he laughed.

His work has been recognised with awards from both the music and entertainment industries including a Gold Award from The British Academy of Composers and Songwriters.

Richard’s also known for being one of the most regular guests on Countdown’s Dictionary Corner – he was even on the shortlist to host, after the death of Richard Whiteley.

But for now the performer, who supported Jim Davidson’s recent tour, says he is doing what he enjoys.

“When I was 60 I said I was going to go back to do what I wanted to do when I was 20,” he said.

“I yearned for my own crowd and it’s nice to be back performing as a one-man show.

“I never dreamed my career would go as it has done. I didn’t want a proper job that’s why I started to play the guitar.

“Your life takes a different path from what you expect. But I am at a stage now where I just do what I want and there’s nobody to impress.”

Richard, who is included in The Virgin Anthology of Songwriters for his contribution to British comedy songwriting, cites his influences as Steve Martin and Billy Connolly – and has had the pleasure of working with them both.

“Steve Martin taught me how to slay an audience in five minutes,” he said.

“I was warned before I worked with him that he receives the biggest encore in the world and that he takes the audience outside at the end of a show and shows them how to steal a car.

“He is a brilliant musician and he is still doing small gigs in America – he has nothing to prove, a bit like me, he’s doing it for enjoyment.

“Billy Connolly used to play at our university in Scotland, all the guys would buy him drinks and the girls would want to chat him up. So I went and got a guitar.”

Although many younger comedians claim Digance among their influences, including Ross Noble, he is happy that the showbiz days are over. Richard now manages himself and is ‘taking it easy’.

“I have done all the big gigs and at my age all I want to do is sing, play the guitar and have a good time,” he said.

“There’s no pressure to sell big arenas so you are just playing to the people who want to see you.

“I have no roadies, no prima donnas and I book my own gigs and manage myself. I book my own hotels too, usually by a river if I can as I am a keen fisherman.”

And he’s looking forward to treating the Lancashire audience to his special brand of entertainment at Oswaldtwistle Civic Arts Centre on Sunday, July 16.

Richard added: “Lancashire was never a hotspot for me, although the Lake District was a place where I did a lot of gigs. The beauty of coming up to Oswaldtwistle is it that it has a comedy name itself.

“My show is like a car boot sale of different tables; I am a troubadour I play music, I do the stories – it’s varied.”

  • Richard Digance, Oswaldtwistle Civic Arts Centre, Sunday, July 16. Box office: 01254 398319