Variety performance, puns and gentle innuendo is the sort of humour you can expect from Don Maclean. At 60, he comes from the same comedy stable as veterans Jimmy Tarbuck and Des O'Connor.

Like them, he started his career at 18, performing in working men's clubs, when he was growing up in Birmingham.

"In the 1960s there were a tremendous amount of working men's clubs about, so there was always plenty of work," he says. "I was never much good at anything else."

To risk a life of being heckled and jeered, you have to be pretty determined.

"I think it was something I always wanted to do from when I was at school really. I used to try and be funny and it got me into a lot of trouble.

"It's difficult to say you're born with this desire but we all have something, call it a talent, in some direction. There's no point fighting against it."

Maclean became a green coat on a Warner holiday camp, Hi-De-Hi style. In those days the entertainers were not professional and Maclean says it was a great opportunity to learn the craft. But the work gave him more than just a career break he also met Toni, his wife of the last 30 years, who was holidaying with her mum and dad.

On return from their honeymoon in Australia, he secured a spot on one of BBC TV's top variety shows, Billy Cotton's Music Hall, and went on to appear in The Good Old Days and The Roy Castle Show before featuring in the BBC documentary Stand-Up Comic.

But it was as a host of BBC TV's Crackerjack and The Black And White Minstrel Show, that he first shot to fame. Since then he has hosted the TV series Mouthtrap and First Letter First.

In terms of comedy, a lot has changed in the past few decades.

"These days it's harder for comedians. I don't know how they start really," he says. "Appearing in those clubs as a new performer in those days was never as hard as comedy clubs today. People go in there to heckle. Then, we all had something to aim for. We more or less knew we were going to get on television, on those big variety shows. That just doesn't happen anymore because TV is not geared towards those sorts of programmes."

Maclean's current career spans the traditional terrain of pantoland and radio. He has been presenting the weekly religious BBC Radio 2 show, Good Morning Sunday, for the past 13 years.

"It's amazing that I have two million listeners when it's on so early. I wouldn't get up and listen to it if I wasn't presenting it," he laughs.

Strange to think of someone from Maclean's background turning to a religious chat show.

"The producers wanted someone who's obviously a person of faith and a churchgoer, but not necessarily a minister," he explains.

"A lot of people are suspicious of religion. There are more people than ever who are looking for something spiritual, but they don't particularly want their spiritual thoughts wrapped up in any religion. It's not as if I'm making a serious show. It's the light-hearted side of religion. We do talk about some quite serious themes, but mostly we have a laugh."

Maclean has no airs and graces, which is where his appeal lies.

"We all reflect our own lives in comedy. Where we came from, our roots. It's always easy to entertain your own generation. Comedy is about shared experience."

Seaside Fun with Hiss & Boo, a tribute to the end of the pier show, is at the Millfield Theatre, Silver Street, Edmonton, on Tuesday, June 8, at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £12 (£10 concessions) from the box office on 020 8807 6680.

His new book, Closer to Heaven, filled with anecdotes with a spiritual flavour, is available at all good bookshops, priced at £6.99.