AFTER 45 years of performing, everything blends into one when you are on the road, says Brian Conley, "until you get to the dressing room and you recognise it".

Next Friday, that dressing room will be at the Grand Opera House in York on Conley's 40-date 2018 tour, Still The Greatest Entertainer – In His Price Range, written and performed by Conley.

The 56-year-old London comedian, television presenter, singer, actor and 2017 Strictly Come Dancing contestant will be performing a variety show, combining comedy and music. Expect some of his best-known characters, such as Dangerous Brian and Nick "It's a Puppet!" Frisby, along with a tribute to his West End musical performances in Me And My Girl, Hairspray, Oliver,! The Music Man and Barnum.

"I started when I was 12; going to stage school; getting my Equity card, with my mum and dad paying for my first term and then paying my own way ever since; becoming a Bluecoat; being thrown in at the deep end," says Conley. "I've done so many things since then but whenever I sit and talk about it, I always say I used to be a Bluecoat for three months 45 years ago."

Defining his tour show, Conley says: "I'm an entertainer, aware of what people require from two hours' entertainment, with a 15-minute interval, where at the end of the show they say 'I can't believe it went so quickly'.

"I hope it makes for an evening that's exciting and unpredictable. I do fire-eating; I do magic; it's a variety show. I'm not someone who can just stand there and tell jokes. I dance with someone from the audience; I sing with someone from the audience. That's what's kept me going. That diversity."

This diversity has broadened still more with Conley's latest television series, Buy It Now, a daytime Channel 4 show that gives sellers and inventors the chance to showcase and sell their innovations to a live studio audience of real shoppers. "We had a meeting last year, before Strictly; we did a pilot and afterwards Channel 4 said 'yeah, we'd like you to do 30 of them' and now 'we'd like you to do more'."

Buy It Now allows Conley to express his quick wit. "There's ad-libbing because I have to talk to the audience about generating more sales and you never know what they're going to do or say," he says.

Meanwhile, Brian insists there is still life in variety, whether on TV or stage. "Variety is not dead; it's on a life support machine, but look at Ant and Dec, Britain's Got Talent, Strictly, they're all variety. Britain's Got Talent is variety with a bit of jeopardy," he says. "Look at pantomime too. We took £1.7 million at the box office at Milton Keynes with Gok Wan and me as Buttons in Cinderella, and we're doing it again at the Bristol Hippodrome this Christmas."

Any questions? Conley will welcome them in Still The Greatest Entertainer. "At the beginning I plant a seed that they can ask me questions about anything in the last 20 minutes of the show," he says. "I'll go funny, I'll go serious, I'll go any way, with the answers, and because I've done this career for so long, there are many experiences I've had that I'm happy to talk about."  

Brian Conley: Still The Greatest Entertainer – In His Price Range, Hull City Hall, Wednesday, May 23; Grand Opera House, York, Friday, May 25, 7.30pm. Box office: Hull, 01482 300300; York, 0844 871 3024 or at