AS we welcome in a new year, Blackburn-raised comedian Lee Mack is already living one of his resolutions for 2011.

For the leading stand-up comedian, presenter and writer, whose parents used to run a pub at Shadsworth when he was a boy, has seen his cult TV sitcom Not Going Out recommissioned this month.

It was originally cancelled by the BBC in early 2009 despite good ratings. However, the BBC revisited the decision, as a result of a petition, and renewed the show for a fourth series, to air January 6 2011.

After his self-penned sitcom was scrapped, Mack saw it as an opportunity to go back on the road and devised a stand-up show cunningly named Going Out. It was so popular it was extended twice and became a 100-date beast spanning 12 months.

But when the BBC decided they did want another series of the show after all Mack had to write it between gigs.

“That was the hardest bit, having to get up in the morning, write the show, drive to the next venue and do the tour – it was a bit full-on!”

But the 41-year-old’s quick to point out how lucky he is: “It’s not really the toughest job in the world... it’s very difficult to say, ‘I’m working really hard’ because people in real jobs, like the Chilean miners, would have something to say about that!” In real life, Mack is as funny and affable as his on-screen persona Lee in Not Going Out.

It’s easy to see why his tour was so much in demand and why he’s frequently on screen in panel shows like Would I Lie To You and guest hosting Have I Got News For You.

But Mack has not always practiced this level of success.

He recalls one of his first gigs, held at Burnley Mechanics: “Gigs in those early days were very far from the sell-out successes they are now. I did those early tours performing to about 40 people.

“I remember we couldn’t fill a theatre in Burnley, and so asked everyone to come to the bar next door.”

He did his first open mic slot in Surbiton in 1994 while at Brunel University.

“From the age of 16 to 25 I had this gut reaction to be a comedian, but didn’t know how to. I used to show off to my mates.

“The biggest break for me was doing the first gig. It took me 10 years to do it, but if you make that leap, you’re suddenly propelled into the top percentage of people who have a go.”

And as time passed Mack’s fan base grew.

And the rest as they say is history.

His sons, Arlo, six, and Louie, four, are just cottoning on to what Daddy does for a living.

“The four-year-old has a vague concept. I said to him recently, ‘Do you know what Daddy’s job is?’ and he said, ‘Yeah you work on the computer’. He’s right actually, I spend more time writing than I do performing.

“And then the eldest came home one day and said, ‘Are you Lee Mack?’ and I said, ‘Yes’ and he said, ‘A boy at school said he’s seen Lee Mack on the television’ and he sort of gave me a look as if to say, ‘What exactly are you up to Dad?’.”

Not Going Out, returns next week with an episode where Lee gets home from a night out clubbing wearing the wrong coat.

“It’s just basically me when I was 25,” admits Mack. “I didn’t really have a career, so I was dossing around, sleeping on people’s sofas, not paying them rent and basically being a leech. But now I’m a family man and I’ve got a job, so it all feels a bit more alien. There’s a bit of me that wants to move the sitcom on to how I am now.”

Whether the show will continue beyond next year remains to be seen, but Mack’s resolutely optimistic about its future.

“We’ve left the window open this time for the two main characters to get together. It could become a bit more of a marriage sitcom than a slacker sitcom. But we’ll see... I’m planning a long way ahead here.

“I desperately want to do it again, I’d do it for the next 20 years given the opportunity. It’s my favourite thing – I live and breathe it for eight months a year.”

And with a smattering of similarity between Lee and his footie-mad character, he will be cheering on his football team this weekend.

Lee has followed Blackburn Rovers since his family moved to the town from his birth place, Southport, when he was a child.

His parents ran, and the family lived above, the Centurion pub on the Roman Road estate and Lee attended the former Everton High School.