Ross Noble is the most unstarry of stars.
He quietly walks into Birmingham’s New Alexandra Theatre by himself, with no entourage – no PR people or lackeys to carry his bag.
He’s wearing a flat cap to disguise his distinctive flowing locks, so people are less likely to mistake him for Neil Oliver from Coast or one of the Hairy Bikers, which is a daily occurrence.
He drove himself to the theatre, fresh from visiting his gran in Newcastle. He would have ridden his motorbike, his preferred mode of transport, but he had to carry a vintage top hat, for a photo shoot for his new tour poster.
It happens to be Halloween when we chat, and exactly a year before he will return to the Alex on his next tour, Tangentleman.
The Alex is officially one of Birmingham’s most haunted places, with no fewer than five ghosts said to inhabit the venue, among them former manager Leon Salberg.
He died in his office in 1937, so it’s perhaps appropriate that we are chatting in the Salberg Suite named after him.
But Ross is not on the lookout for ghosts. He’s having none of it, as evidenced by the way he makes fun of Derek Acorah in his new TV series Freewheeling.
“I know how the mind can play tricks,” says the 37-year-old. “Your brain is capable of creating all sorts of stuff.
“Every year I do this 24-hour off-road motorbike race, and after 20 hours of non-stop riding through the Welsh mountains, you start to hallucinate and think things are walking around in front of you.
“I have a problem with mediums, preying on vulnerable people.
“It’s funny that when people see a ghost, they never say anything except maybe go ‘oooh’. Yet when mediums talk to the spirit world, they don’t shut up. It seems weird that they go into detail when communicating with someone else.”
Might Halloween and ghostly goings-on be a subject for his show when he returns next year?
“Oh aye,” he says. “I’ll talk about whatever is on my mind, or whatever I’ve just seen.
“As you’ll see on my new DVD of my Mindblender tour, just before I walk on stage I was watching something on the telly in my dressing room so that becomes part of the act.
“I often have The One Show on just before I go on and there’s usually something in that to start talking about.”
Ross likes to come up with unusual names for his tours. Past ones have included Sonic Waffle, Noodlemeister, Fizzy Logic and Nonsensory Overload.
The name of the new tour is a mix of tangent and gentleman, rather than a tanned gentleman.
“It won’t be an evening with David Dickinson,” he puns.
He’s back in Birmingham after visiting the city for his new TV series on the digital channel Dave, called Ross Noble Freewheeling.
He takes on Britain, one tweet at a time. He embarked on a completely random road trip, going wherever people on Twitter suggested.
He ended up riding about 4,000 miles on his motorbike.
“The show is genuinely unplanned and unscripted. I was on the way to Newcastle to re-enact the final scene from An Office and a Gentleman for someone when I got sidetracked by the Women’s Institute in St Helen’s.
“They sexually assaulted me in knitwear. They wrapped me in this giant scarf they’d knitted, and one of them kissed me on the lips.”
He started off in Weedon Bec near Daventry, “the very centre of Britain, according to a bloke on Twitter”.
He then rode to Birmingham when someone pointed out that Eddie Izzard was playing at the NIA.
As it was his friend Eddie who introduced him to Twitter, Ross decided to pay him a surprise visit – along with a plastic miniature hedge he’d bought for £84.
“There’s so much weird stuff in garden centres,” muses father-of-two Ross. “I gave the hedge to Eddie but it’s probably in the canal behind the NIA now.
“Unlike some comedy shows, I leave the bits in where it’s quite awkward. I think the funniest moments are when I’m talking to someone who doesn’t really know what’s going on.”
That was certainly the case when, while trying to find Coventry’s Britannia Royal Court Hotel, he turned up at Keresley Wood Care Home next door.
Another TV role for Ross was more unusual. He starred in Australia in a comedy drama called It’s A Date, which features different couples going on dates.
In it, he plays a gay man going on a date with someone played by Ian Smith, best known as Harold Bishop from Neighbours.
“A friend asked me to co-write and star in an episode. I was given free rein to do whatever I wanted, as long as two people go on a date in half an hour.
“I could have written it about an Australian underwear model, where I end up naked with her rolling around in front of a fire.
“But no, instead I thought it would be hilarious to pretend that I’m a gay fella
using the Grindr phone app to hook up with a man.
“The guy says he looks like Antonio Banderas, but Ian Smith turns up.
“I’m looking for a sexy man and he has to convince me to go ahead with the date. He says I don’t want to date him because he’s old, but I say I would shag Ian McKellen.
“There’s a fantasy sequence where I imagine us doing stuff like dancing the tango wearing matador outfits.
“When I was writing it, I said immediately ‘I want Harold Bishop from Neighbours’. We laughed for about an hour at the idea of Ian Smith in our telly show.
“But eventually we rang his agent and he agreed to meet us. We pitched him the idea and he liked it.
“He’s a lovely man and a great character actor who has been terribly typecast in his Neighbours role.
“There’s talk of doing an American version and possible a British one. We would do the same script with different actors.
“I’m not sure who the British equivalent of Ian Smith might be.
“Bernard Cribbins? He’d be amazing, but it would have to be someone you really wouldn’t expect in that role.”
* Ross Noble performs at Birmingham’s New Alexandra Theatre on October 31 and November 1, 2014. For tickets, ring 0844 871 3011 or go to www.atgtickets.com/birmingham.