DANNY Baker had it all worked out. He and his wife Wendy were going to retire and move to sunnier climes in Portugal. But then something happened. “When I was promoting my last book, I did a couple of festivals and they sold out really quickly. I did them, and I enjoyed them, and people turned up. So I said, ‘Do you know what? Let’s do a couple of shows in London, just telling the stories out the books, and that’s how they work best. Anyway, the shows sold out immediately."

What is most extraordinary about his first show - entitled Cradle To The Stage – is that Danny only covered a fraction of his upbringing in south London. The 61-year-old recalls that, “I hadn’t even left school by the end of the three-hour shows. I had 48 photos to show people. We got through six.”

Now Danny is coming to Newcastle with his new show, “Good Time Charlie’s Back!” , with more uproarious anecdotes from his treasure trove of life stories.

The critics have already been raving about Danny’s live performance. The Mail on Sunday describes the show as, "A delightful nostalgia fest. An ‘evening with’ like no other… A raft of cracking anecdotes." Meanwhile, The Evening Standard declares that, "Boy, can he sell a story… a compelling, evocative account of his south London roots".

Talking at breakneck speed, Danny is a veritable force of nature, a molten lava flow of wondrous stories. He could entertain you merely by reading out of the telephone directory. It is a real pleasure spending time in his company.

Performing live certainly plays to Danny’s strengths. Responsible for the hugely popular BBC2 sitcom, Cradle to Grave, based on the first volume of his bestselling autobiography, he is a supremely gifted off-the-cuff performer who has no need for direction or a script. Priceless stories flood out of him like an un-dammed river.

Danny, who can be heard on Saturday mornings on his multi award winning BBC Radio 5 Live show, clearly relishes the live experience. He revels in the contagious atmosphere of a show that is being delivered to an ecstatic audience and will never be repeated.

Remembering his last tour, Danny whistles with something akin to amazement. “God, it was something. They were great nights, those shows. And there is no record of it. It wasn’t filmed, it wasn’t recorded. But that’s fine. That’s half of the shine of it as well, I think. About ten minutes into it, you could really see the audience think, ‘Wow, he won’t be able to keep up this!’”

He also revels in the sense of anticipation as he builds up to the climax of another highly amusing yarn. The performer reveals that, “I don’t have a fear of public speaking. Onstage, I like knowing that I’m heading into a really good story. Along the way they’re funny, but I like to know that they pay off.

“I’m having a terrific time myself, and I hope that is infectious. I don’t laugh at my own jokes, but I do clap my hands and think, ‘Oh, you’ll like this, here’s something, this is great, let me tell you’.”

What is most incredible about Danny onstage is that he just goes into a different zone. He tells the most superb anecdotes – and then the moment he walks off stage, he cannot for the life of him remember what they were!

He observes that, “If you asked me now, ‘What shape are the shows and what stories did you tell last time?’, I wouldn’t know. People say, ‘What’s your favourite subject you’ve done on the radio?’ But I don’t know. I don’t know what kind of reverie I go into when I’m on the radio. I can’t remember. No idea. Which is how it should be. You’d be like a mad person if you talked like that all the time!”

Equally astonishing is the fact that he writes nothing down before he goes on stage. The performer discloses that, “There’s no structure to the show, but there is an absolute power house of stories. And why deny telling people those? Yes, I’ve got 61 new stories to get through in the new show. But I will get through about, on any given night… 15.

“They’re not written down. I’m like the Navajo; it’s all an oral history, passed down through the generations. It’s not a written language. But that’s the fun of it. If it were written down, the audience could tell, and it would take some of the vim out of it. I don’t ever work to a script in radio or anything else. People think there must be a script. There isn’t, and whatever facility I may have, that is it. Minor though it is, that’s what I can do.”

Danny adds that, “Even people in the audience who had heard it before nudge their neighbours and say, ‘This is a great story’. I’m not a comedian. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I know this joke.’ It’s all in the story. The devil is in the detail, and it forms an overall patchwork on the night - another thing I’ve got in common with the Indian Nation. I had no idea that me and Sitting Bull and I were actually related.”

What is irresistible about Danny is the sheer passion he has for storytelling. This is highlighted in the new show, which he has joked will serve as his farewell tour.

He says that, “I have an ebullience that some people find annoying, but I’ve said it many times, I’m very shallow. That has become a bad thing, but it’s not in my book. Too many people today affect a darker side. I can’t bear the word ‘dark’. I’m a euphoric, and that’s all there is to it. I’m stuck with it. I had loads and loads of uncles and aunts. My wife is one of 10. Our house was always full of pushchairs and bikes and you had to be competitive to be heard. Our family was noisy. But even before I left school, I was fortunate enough to realise that when something funny happened, it would make a great story.”

Danny’s tales touch on themes which everyone can relate to. According to the performer, “One of the myths about me is that I’m ‘very London’. But on the last tour, I went to Yorkshire four times, Manchester three times. I went right up into the North-East – and we sold out everywhere. I think my stories are unique and universal.”

However, Danny does not wish “Good Time Charlie’s Back!” to be seen as didactic. “There’s n great social message in it,” he says. “I’m not raising awareness about anything. I wouldn’t know how to, and I don’t think people want that. I’ve always had - if you will forgive the Noel Coward reference - a talent to amuse.”

Good Time Charlie’s Back! York: Grand Opera House, April 29; Newcastle: Tyne Theatre, May 2.

W: dannybakerlive.com