Tony will Corrie on regardless

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EVEN Tony Barton himself admits he has one of those faces you know you've seen before but can't remember where.

The comedian and entertainer has been a guest star in just about every long-running TV series going and is now about to appear at the Grand Theatre in Lancaster.

Tony, who will host variety show 'Just My Cup Of Tea' on Thursday September 11, said he has closer ties to Lancaster than you may expect.

In fact, he has quietly lived there for the past two years!

"My partner lives in Lancaster and although I also have a house in Manchester, I spend quite a bit of time there," says Tony.

"It's a lovely city. I was introduced to it by my friend Jim Bowen when we did The Comedians in the 70s."

Apart from the hit stand-up comedy show, Tony has also had roles in 'Emmerdale', 'Last of the Summer Wine', 'Heartbeat', the famous Stones Bitter ads from the 80s ("Wherever you may wander, there's no place like Stones!") and most recently 'Coronation Street'.

He played lazy builder Pat Hegarty on and off for four years.

"I always seem to be cast as builders for some reason," he laughs.

"In the first year of Grange Hill you may remember Tucker Jenkins' mate Alan Humphreys. I played his dad Albert and he was a builder as well!"

In a little-known fact, Tony says when he first joined the Corrie cast in the mid-90s, a young up-and-coming comedian played one of his fellow workmen.

His name - Peter Kay, now the popular star of Phoenix Nights.

More recently, Tony did a cameo in Channel 4 teen soap 'Hollyoaks' as a paving specialist called Charlie Dimmock.

"The storyline was that someone thought they were getting the TV gardener from 'Ground Force' to do their paving stones but instead they got me!"

Despite being typecast in this way, Hull-born Tony is actually an extremely versatile performer.

He still tours the pubs and clubs of the north west as a stand-up comedian and did a gig at the Gordon Club in Morecambe last weekend.

And he is also an accomplished singer who was trained by Julie Andrews' mother.

This 'hidden talent' may come to the fore during 'Just My Cup Of Tea'.

"It's a good old-fashioned variety show with a difference," he explains.

"Just My Cup Of Tea' is set on a mock entertainment night in a tea cafe and all the performers remain on stage and interact with the audience while each act takes its turn.

"There will be songs from the shows, an audience singalong, comedy and a zany magician called Teejay.

"The show is sponsored by Yorkshire Tea so the audience will be given free tea bags and there's also a raffle to win a free tea set.

"Basically, it's just good clean family fun."

Tony says it is sad how variety shows are no longer as popular as they used to be.

"I'm a member of the Water Rats and I love the theatre, and a lot of my colleagues say how it's a shame they aren't working as much any more.

"It seems the only way to do it these days is to put on your own show, so that's exactly what we're doing."

Tickets to 'Just My Cup of Tea' cost 7 (6 concessions) and are available from the Grand Theatre box office or by calling 64695.