PAUL Sinha will be turning into Paul Sinner this winter in York when he makes his pantomime debut as the villainous Abanazar in Aladdin at the Grand Opera House.

More of that later, but first he will be performing his Postcards From The Z-List stand-up show at the Great Yorkshire Fringe in The Turn Pot on the Parliament Street village green on July 22.

The 8pm performance will be a preview of his first Edinburgh Fringe show since 2011. "That's because I took a four-year self-imposed exile from Edinburgh when real life took over," says Paul. "Postcards is my first new show since Looking At The Stars, which was based on a chance meeting with Jim Davidson that didn't go particularly well, and the new one is based on a harsh description where I'm talking of the reality of where I am and how I got there..."

...So, what's it like being on the Z-list, Paul? "Fun," he says.

Fun? "I'm not sure I could tolerate any higher level of success, but then at other times I think, 'a little bit of that wouldn't go amiss', but it's a double-edged sword. I'm the kind of person who's constantly 'misrecognised'; I've been 'that guy from Coronation Street' or 'that guy off Dragons' Den'. I've been mistaken for all sorts," says 46-year-old Paul, who was born Supriya Kumar Sinha, of Indian descent, in Luton in 1970. "I look vaguely Maori mixed race; I've just got a look that's difficult to pin down."

York Press:

Do you know this man? Are you sure he is not someone else?

Nevertheless, Paul has been performing comedy for 20 years, having started his stand-up career while still practising medicine, before finally hanging up his stethoscope in 2007 to concentrate full time on funny bones when his 2006 solo show Saint Or Sinha was nominated for the If.comedyAward at Edinburgh.

He has appeared on myriad TV shows and written and presented his own documentaries and comedy shows on BBC Radio 4, such as Paul Sinha’s Citizenship Test and Paul Sinha’s History Revision, whose second series aired from May this year, as well as one-off shows on cricket, the 2012 Olympics and Magna Carta.

There have been frequent appearances on BBC radio favourites The News Quiz, Just A Minute and The Now Show; victories on BBC Radio 5 Live’s feisty weekly sports panel show Fighting Talk; national tours; performances in Beijing, Munich, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Tokyo; a regular role as a “Chaser” on ITV quiz show The Chase since 2011; and a further career as a professional quizzer, attaining grandmaster status in 2014.

Yet Paul Sinha still considers himself to be a Z-lister, destined to work in York later this year in Aladdin with Hear'Say's Suzanne Shaw; Carl Tracey from Nick Jr's TV show Go!Go!Go!; former Emmerdale soap stars Frazer Hines and Stuart Wade and dancer Debbie McGee. "The new show's partly about dealing with people more famous than me, like working with Debbie McGee, going 'Wow, it's Debbie McGee', but hopefully not coming across as an idiot," he says.

York Press:

"Wow, it's Debbie McGee!"

"All I've asked to be is the best comedian I've ever wanted to be; all I've ever wanted to do is stand in front of a microphone and make people laugh, and whatever comes along I'll deal with."

Nevertheless, in these post-Brexit days, he seemed cautious of stepping out of his "Z-list status" when that potential font for comedy cropped up mid-conversation. "I'm increasingly aware that anything I say could be misinterpreted with glee or disdain, though I do now have disdain for the Boris Johnson age of MPs, who seem to have more interest in careerism," says Paul.

Let's discuss the Grand Opera House pantomime instead: the first to be in the hands of Chris Moreno, Stuart Wade and Russ Spencer's new pantomime production company, Three Bears Productions, after 17 years of Simon Barry's shows, with the new promise of "wondrous 3D special effects, a magical Genie, dazzling sets, glamorous costumes, fabulous music and hysterical comedy".

"My agent was approached by the Three Bears company, and it had been on my mind for quite some time as a stand-up comedian to do panto, when Christmas is not exactly the best time for stand-ups to be performing, as you're just interrupting someone's baguette at a Christmas party, which is not the most life-affirming feeling," says Paul.

Abanazar, it is then, for Paul Sinha. "I have no particular singing or dancing background to bring to the situation; I'll bring acting and 100 per cent professionalism to learning the lines," he says. "I know you're not just playing to children, of course, so I'll turn up in late November for rehearsals and play it by ear from then on."

Does he feel drawn to the baddie's dark side in pantomime? "I think I might have been picked for having the face of evil!" says Paul. "Though I've often been told I'm so mild-mannered on The Chase, and that means I'll have to channel my inner villain."

The Great Yorkshire Fringe runs in York from tomorrow until August 1, 9.30am to 11.30pm daily, with more than 300 events. Visit for the full programme and ticket details. Box office: 01904 500600 or

Paul Sinha presents Postcards From The Z-List, The Turn Pot, Parliament Street, York, July 22, 8pm. Three Bears Productions' Aladdin will run at the Grand Opera House, York, from December 9 to January 1 2017; box office, 0844 871 3024 or at