If I was expecting Julian Clary to turn up to our interview in a fanfare of sequins, make-up and high camp, I’d have been sorely disappointed.

When we meet at a hotel in London’s West End, Julian slips into the room unnoticed, apologises for being a couple of minutes late, and slides into a seat before ordering a pot of tea and a plate of ‘good quality’ biscuits.

I’ve read interviews describing Julian as ‘shy’ but after meeting him I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate. He’s softly spoken and unassuming, yes, but he also holds eye contact and is confident and forthright on his opinions. He’s also, as you’d expect, very funny. And no question is out of bounds…

Let’s talk about your series of children’s books, The Bolds. Is that a wonderful thing, having success with something brand new later in life?

Yes, all the best things in life are unexpected. That’s one of them. It turns out that making children laugh is just as lovely as making grown-ups laugh, and they don’t care who I am.

How many do you think you’ll write?

The next one’s already written; number five, The Bolds Go Wild, is out on March 7. I think they want a sixth one. I used to read the Just William books and there’s about 20 of those. I liked the fact that they keep going. When I was a child, if I found a book I liked I was always sad that I got to the end of it, and I wished they’d written another one.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Let’s talk about your tour, Born To Mince.

The last one was The Joy of Mincing. Before that was Natural Born Mincer, Lord of the Mince, Mincing Machine. You get the general idea. I just like to get ‘mincing’ in the title. I like the word.

It’s only three years since your last tour. Why did you want to do another so soon?

Because I miss it, and what I have to do with my life is rotate various activities. So children’s books are lovely, and I really enjoy making children laugh, but a part of me wants to talk filth and I’m not one for depriving myself of that pleasure.

And how do you feel about the writing process?

Well it’s written now sort of - but it’s all in gestation because I’ve got another few months to go.

I like the process. It gathers pace. The quality of the writing gets better as I get closer to it, through fear probably. The best stuff will probably rise to the surface when I’m in the car on my way to the first gig.

So you wake up in the middle of the night and have to scribble this stuff down?

I do, much to my husband’s annoyance. In fact he doubles as my secretary so I dictate and he has to wake up and write it all down. He’s also my gardener, house keeper and nurse.

Do you get a kick out of getting people to gasp?

It’s one of life’s pleasures, in my opinion. It’s one of the reasons people come to see me. They want to see if I’ll go too far. It livens up their otherwise dreary lives I expect. It gets the heart rate going, much like fairground rides or watching a horror movie.

How much audience participation would there usually be in your shows? Should people avoid sitting in the first five rows?

No because I wander around now, so you’re not safe anywhere. I’ve always found people’s lives are more interesting than mine, and so I’m interested in talking to people and improvising, really.

I did a straight play last year, Le Grand Mort, and it was really enjoyable, but I really had to stop myself from talking to the audience. It was in a very small theatre at Trafalgar Studios. I wanted to talk about someone’s hair and their handbag and the shoes they were wearing, and you just can’t apparently. I’m told that, when acting in play, you are expected to say the same words in the same order every night. Who knew?

There’s a line in the press release which says ‘this might be the final mince?’. Does that mean you’re thinking of retiring?

Yes, it was rather lame of me to say that but I suppose it’s because I am 60 during this tour.

I’ll be in Bury St Edmunds and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be for my birthday than on stage in Bury St Edmunds. And I do think it might be the last one. Because at what age does it become inappropriate to talk about things that I talk about?

I also wonder, would people want to see much more of me? I’m quite drawn to the idea of being a recluse. I’ll lock myself away, watching Cash in the Attic and live in filth. People will wander past my house in years to come and say ‘That’s where Mr Clary lives. He’s let himself go.’

Are you happier now than you were in your 30s?

Yes, and I think that’s the compensation for getting older, isn’t it?

Julian will be appearing at Newham Word Festival on Wednesday, March 6, in an event for schools.

He will also be coming to the London Palladium on Saturday, June 8, for his new Born to Mince stand-up tour.

London Palladium, 8 Argyll Street, Soho, W1F 7LA, Saturday, June 8. Details: 020 7087 7747 lwtheatres.co.ik