Lee Hurst is really a serious guy, with big plans for a laughs- led regeneration of London's East End. Fortunately for all his fans, though, he hasn't given up his night job

Hold the arts page: Lee Hurst in "They Think It's All Over is not laddish" shock horror. The most famous bald man since Telly Savalas rejects the frequently laid charge that the comedy sports quiz he appears on glories in laddishness. "That's just people's perception of it," he asserts. "It's much the same as when people say it's a football show; it isn't, it's a comedy show. Some of my jokes are very childish - therefore they can't be laddish. I do jokes like complaining to Tony Banks that I haven't had my windows done. That's not being laddish."

Hurst brings the same appealingly daft sense of humour to his stand-up act. It is the live arena which he still sees as his core activity. He obviously relishes it; how else could you explain someone who has willingly just worked 42 nights in a row?

"It's what I do," he reflects. "The telly helps you sell tickets, but stand-up is still my main job. Everything else is steered towards it. They Think It's All Over is just a shop-window for me to say, `Hello I'm quite funny here. Come and see me being even more funny live'."

It's not all gags with Hurst, though. He grabbed headlines earlier this year with his vociferous support for the sacked dockers in Liverpool - he even displayed a T-shirt backing them on They Think It's All Over. "They were sacked by greed," Hurst fumes. "We all end up as worm-meat, so in the short time we have on the planet, we should treat people decently."

The same instincts are behind his plan to open a comedy club next year in his native East End. "I have a desire to put something back into the area," he reveals, "that's my main impetus. I feel that the people round here are good people who have been misled by various political factions, mostly from the right. The club will provide a handful of jobs, and people coming to see the shows will spend money in the local economy. It'll help regenerate the area; it's one brick in the wall, anyway."

His only worry for the moment is what is going to happen to him when he finally has a day off. "I've held off this cold that's been going around so far. But the danger point comes when I stop, because if I relax, I'm going to get it. My cunning plan is just to keep busy." He shouldn't have any problem doing that.

Lee Hurst plays the Wimbledon Theatre (0181-540 0362) on 4 Dec. `Lee Hurst Live' is now available on video at pounds 14.99


Bob Downe, the spoof Light Entertainment presenter and campest thing this side of Christmas, continues his "Jazzy!" tour at the Talk of the Town, Parker St, WC2 (0171-494 5494) on 3 Dec. Expect a lot of nasty man-made fibres and more kitsch than you know what to do with.