COMEDIAN Ardal O’Hanlon, best known for his role as loveable but dim Father Dougal in cult TV comedy series Father Ted, is on tour with a new show.

The Showing Off Must Go On, which will be at Brighton Dome on November 22, is an off-kilter look at the current state of the world and explores the decisions we as consumers make.

“At the moment there’s a kind of urgency to speak out,” he says.

“Expect the silly and surreal. I personally prefer watching comedians who aren’t too blunt or too partisan.”

He has strong political views but doesn’t want to hit audiences over the head them.

“Comedians have to be cannier than that,” he says.

The shift in priorities means a return to the stage for O’Hanlon after two years as lead detective on the popular TV series Death In Paradise.

Stand-up has always been his first showbusiness love although he is a reluctant show-off.

“I come from a part of the world where showing off is anathema, it’s the worst thing you could possibly do,” he says.

“When you grow up in a border area of Ireland, people are very wary and cagy and keep their head down at all times. Don’t speak unless it’s absolutely essential, and don’t give anything away. So showing off was a really terrible thing to do, it’s up there with armed robbery.”

This conflict at the heart of the show is evident in the title The Showing Off Must Go On. Ardal is self aware and constantly asking himself tough questions on his own motivations for attention. “I love stand-up comedy and I love performing, but I was always conscious that this is showing off,” he says.

As Father Dougal McGuire, Ardal charmed the nation when Father Ted gained cult status on Channel 4 in the late 90s.

Dougal’s naive, ambling character is perhaps the perfect incarnation for someone who is uncertain about showing off.

Although Ardal is not involved in any way with the proposed Father Ted musical (“I wish them well with it”), he still looks back with fondness on the Craggy Island-set sitcom which helped raise his profile in Ireland and beyond.

“I’m so grateful to the show and proud of my part in it. I sometimes pinch myself that I was in it and that it was so successful,” he says.

“I was in the throes of a burgeoning stand-up career at the time when we made it and that was always my focus at the time. We’d be rehearsing during the day and I’d be gigging at night. Father Ted was almost like a distraction from that, a brilliant distraction obviously. At the time I didn’t know what that would mean for my career.”

But stand-up remains his first showbusiness love and Ardal is excited over the prospect of taking another show on the road.

“There’s something compulsive about it. For this tour, I’ll have a modest saloon car and my little bag of jokes and a toothbrush. I always enjoy touring, and going up and down the country. I do love the performing aspect of it but equally I love the whole process of it, engaging with the world, and trying to figure stuff out. Stand-up is the best medium for that.”

Karen Goodwin