Miles Jupp doesn't really need an introduction. For younger members of the family he is Archie the Inventor in the hit Cbeebies show Balamory and for adults he’s a comedian, actor and presenter - think Rev, The Thick Of It, Have I Got News For You, People and Rules For Living at the National Theatre and most recently as the new host of the BBC Radio 4 show, The News Quiz.
But he started out as a comedian back in 2000 and quickly won recognition for his self deprecating wit and beautiful comic timing with the So You Think You’re Funny and Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year awards in 2001.
This autumn he has gone back to his comedic roots with a tour of his new show, Miles Jupp: Songs Of Freedom, which makes a stop at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre on October 26.
Affable and chatty he tells me that he’s looking forward to making his debut at the venue and musing on all manner of things including hipsters, manners, astronauts and social media and basically “skipping around the stage having fun and getting a load of nonsense off my chest”.
However, my first question revolves around the press release announcing the show which states that he will be wearing a freshly ironed shirt and “robust trousers”.
Curiosity getting the better of me, I ask what robust trousers are and what’s special about them.
“Ah well they really just a solid pair of trousers, no more to it than that really,” he chuckles. “They only have to last two hours a night which is perfectly reasonable.
“The shirt thing though is something that has become somewhat of a ritual of mine. I have a routine before I go on stage in which I iron my shirt. It’s a chance for me to focus on the show and is something I picked up in Edinburgh. It’s also my way of reminding myself that although walking out on stage and having fun is what I do and what I love, it is also about going out to work. It is a way of rooting and reminding myself to be professional and to put the effort in.
“I also iron it again in the interval as I like it to be fresh,” he adds laughing.
“As for the trousers, I have a few and so far they are standing up pretty well.”
All this is good news because the tour, which began last month, is a good six months long although it is interspersed with other projects including the News Quiz.
Indeed when Miles and I chat he’s in town and taking a lunch break from recording said show. But it’s clear he’s enjoying being back on the road and is as easy going and laid back as you might expect.
“I did a my last tour about two years ago and after a while you get the itch to go out again and get in front of an audience so here I am,” he tells me.
“It’s nice to go to towns and venues that are familiar as well as to visit places I’ve never been to before and meeting people I don’t know. So far it’s been going very nicely.
“I’ve never been to the Churchill Theatre though. I’ve been to Bromley many times, mostly to get my Volkswagen car serviced at Beadles Garage - they have great people and great prices but that’s the only reason to be there so I have no idea who comes out at night in Bromley.
“So I’m looking forward to it - it sounds like a nice theatre so hopefully we will have an audience that is varied and interesting and wide awake.
“It’s not going to be a wild and crazy night though, nor is it going to be sedate - I rant and rave a bit but the audiences tend to be pretty nice people.
“This time the show is about a variety of nonsense - peoples’ perceptions of each other, incorrect signage, being unable to find things, going on TV programmes that I shouldn’t go on, children copying what I do, restaurant reviews…. it’s all bits and pieces really and stuff that I’ve found funny over the course of the last two years. So something for everyone!” he laughs.
One of the things that has happened in the last few years is that he and his family uprooted themselves from Peckham where they had lived for a number of years to rural Wales.
“Peckham is prime hipster place,” he muses before adding diplomatically, “I’m sure people there are nice but they are a bit fabulous aren’t they? I find it’s damaging to a person’s self confidence as there is a feeling you are being judged by these people. So I have a chat about that.
“South Wales is lovely and it’s been a good move - it’s really good for the children.”
The move was prompted he tells me by needing more space for his large brood - he has five children aged seven and under including a set of twins - who he also admits offer plenty of material for his shows.
“I did a show which included talking about the complexities of having four kids and then I found I was going to have another one,” he remembers.
“In this show I talk about how kids copy you, how you can see yourself in their behaviour and how I am often incapable of answering their questions. Then there is the fact I have to get them to go and do stuff for me - all this technology for instance. The way they engage with screens, know how to make videos and selfies and so on is extraordinary.
“They are a constant though and the reason you do everything.”
And in a moment of semi seriousness he says it is for them that he works so much and one of the reasons for going out on tour.
However he acknowledges that it’s tiring travelling up and down the highways and byways of the country when he’s on tour or recording any of the many TV and radio shows he’s involved with, and like all working parents, trying to find the balance between work and homelife is not always easy.
“It’s hardest for my wife really,” he says. “It just takes planning though and having stuff mapped out so we all know what we are doing.
“Having five children is a bit bonkers but now they are a bit older it’s nice when they get on with stuff and thrilling to see them having fun together, watching them being creative and making stuff from nothing.
“We have got a set of twins and being a twin looks like a lot of fun. The key thing is to spread yourself around make sure they get enough attention.”
With all those mouths to feed Miles says he needs to keep working but it’s clear he enjoys what he does.
He started acting about two years after becoming established on the stand up circuit and since then has gone “back and forth” between the two. Indeed he loves the variety it offers citing roles at the National Theatre and in Rev and The Thick of It as “extraordinary experiences”.
“I’ve done a couple of things at the National,” he says. “It’s a really interesting place to work and I love Rufus Norris who runs it.
“Rules For Living was pretty intense and very technical so I had to make sure I knew what I was doing. Then I also did People there with Peter Egan. I’d never seen him in [TV show] Ever Decreasing Circles so I had a great time with him.
“I remember we were back stage chatting away, talking about espionage and other things and drinking wine when everyone else was on stage - it was great!” he chuckles at the memory.
“I’d like to do more theatre although I also really enjoy doing TV - being in Rev was a tremendous slice of good fortune.
“It was glorious and I worked with a really nice team of people - it’s that kind of thing that’s great and I love it. The Thick Of It was also fantastic and three of the best days of my working life. Just to be doing it was amazing - it’s the kind of work you compare everything else to.
“But I’m happy to work anywhere though really.”
And of course he’s now added presenting to his impressive CV. Not only that he’s currently writing a book and has just finished recording an adaptation of Watership Down in which he voices Blackberry the rabbit.
“It was fun but a bit lonely though,” he admits. “It was just me in a booth focusing on one voice.
“I don’t know how they will knit it all together - I am not up on all the technical stuff.
“But I have never been a rabbit before …… so that was a new experience!”
Miles Jupp: Songs of Freedom is at the Churchill Theatre Bromley on October 26. The show tours nationwide until February 2017 including the London Palladium on February 25. For more details, visit www.milesjupp.co.uk