Actor and theatre director Chris Beaumont likes a pint at his local so much he is buying it.

From the moment he stepped into The Greys in Southover Street, Hanover, Brighton, it felt like home. Now, 18 years later, it is.

He supped his first pint there while house-hunting in 1985, a drink that was the start of a long, happy and at times hazy relationship.

Chris is buying the pub after witnessing at first hand how it has been transformed from a spit-and-sawdust back-street boozer into a renowned music venue.

He bought a house round the corner, romanced his future wife there, held his wedding reception there and saw some of his favourite musicians play.

When it came up for sale in December he could not resist the chance.

He said: "I had to have it, basically to stop someone else getting their hands on it and ruining it."

The Greys is one of Brighton's favourite small watering holes, recently described by one reviewer as the "beating heart of Bohemian Hanover".

Located half way up Southover Street, it has become synonymous with live music and award-winning food.

Its reputation stems from the late Eighties. On one occasion the man responsible for the pub's renaissance, outgoing landlord Mike Lance, decided to put on an outside concert with 33 bands playing over three days.

Officers at John Street police station, half a mile away, heard the party and phoned up, curious to know what was going on.

With a capacity of just 70, the pub has managed to attract international stars by the bucketload.

There are few venues where the crowd can buy the stars a drink after the gig but names such as PP Arnold, Kiki Dee and Tiny Tim have lapped up the attention and come back for more.

One American band has been known to fly to England for a whistlestop five-gig tour and insist on performing at The Greys.

Magician Paul Zenon, who lives in the area, can regularly be found enjoying a pint and has even tried, and failed, to use a bit of magic to keep him in after last orders.

Travel writer Pete McCarthy is also known to be a fan.

Provided there are no last-minute hitches, Chris and his wife Gill Perkins are due take over the reins a month today.

Besides keeping up the tradition of live music, which will continue to be promoted by Mike, Chris is keen to stamp his own influence on pub by adding a touch of drama.

His theatre company, Hanover Productions, was responsible for the world stage premiere of Withnail And I, which sold out the Komedia for 12 nights running, receiving rave reviews.

He said: "I had a full cast of actors and a director from the West End. It was a great success.

"As a result of that the Brighton Fringe Festival asked me what I was doing next year.

"I hadn't thought about it so that's when I came up with Pistols, which, as the name suggests, was a rock musical about The Sex Pistols."

Chris plans to stage his one-man show, The Man With The Golden Pen, in the pub for this year's Brighton Festival.

The play, about James Bond creator Ian Fleming, has received one of the highest accolades of all - members of Fleming's family have seen it and loved it.