ANDY Hamilton is used to the unexpected – the hit television series he co-created, Outnumbered, saw children ad libbing to an outline script. His TV satires turned up the heat on Westminster with Ballot Monkeys and Power Monkeys, filmed on the day of transmission, the first one during the General Election and the second one during the run-up to the referendum on the EU.

He thrives on seat-of-your-pants stuff, but when the award-winning comedian, comedy writer and director stages his first up close and personal show, An Evening with Andy Hamilton, he has vowed to answer any question the audience throws at him – unless it is about Meghan Markle – as he looks back at his extensive career.

“Giving the audience the floor to ask questions on any topic can make for a very funny evening, and I am old enough to have enough jokes, stories and opinions to keep everyone in a good mood,” he says. “Often the questions are topical. People want to know what is going on and comedy and jokes about big stories can help people make sense of things they are worried about and make issues of the day more manageable. Most jokes are about serious concerns. Making fun of things can be the only voice of sanity you’ll hear.”

The show is also an opportunity for Andy to get away from his writing desk. “I need to get out in the world and it’s a pleasure for me to meet audiences – it’s the best bit about performance," he says.

My question would be whether his hit newsroom series, Drop the Dead Donkey, co-written with Guy Jenkin, or an updated version of it, could work today? The answer is no. “The news has been so commercialised and the demands of having to react instantly to the 24-hour news cycle and streams from social media mean that sadly it wouldn’t work now," says Andy. "Perhaps a younger person could have a new take on it.”

He has a new radio series in the summer of Andy Hamilton Sort of Remembers, in which he presents a collection of observations and reminiscences about his personal life and his 40 years working in comedy. And he’s working on a handwritten novel. “I don’t know where I get these mad ideas from,” he says. “I enjoy writing by hand and it’s something I have always thought about doing.”

His career began in 1976 when he was a contributor to Radio 4’s Weekending before he picked up a raft of awards for co-writing and co-directing Drop the Dead Donkey and Outnumbered. He and Guy Jenkin also penned and directed the hit British comedy feature film What We Did on Our Holiday, which starred David Tennant, Rosamund Pike and Billy Connolly.

His numerous TV and radio credits include Have I Got News for You, Q.I., Andy Hamilton Sort of Remembers, The News Quiz, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue and Old Harry’s Game, in which he voiced Satan. His debut novel, The Star Witness, was recently released via Outbound.

* An Evening with Andy Hamilton is at the Gala Theatre, Durham on May 29. W: