FULL INTERVIEW: Peter Andre and Jason Manford delighted to visit Norwich

As two big stars prepare to star on stage at the Norfolk Showground this weekend, JOE WILKES has a chat with them to find out why they are looking forward to their Norwich trip.

For one night only pop star Peter Andre will be doing what he loves best when he performs in front of thousands in Norwich.

He has chosen the city for his return to big stage performances after months out with illness.

Speaking to the Evening News, Mr Andre told how the show at the 3,000 capacity Norfolk Showground's Exhibition Hall tomorrow evening will be something of a comeback.

He was forced to cancel gigs in Scotland and Plymouth in recent months, and is ready to prove a point by showing the people of Norwich what he can do.

'This is the first real gig I'm doing since I had these problems,' he said.

'I would say it is a mini come back to kick start the next year, ready for the big arena tour I've got planned.

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'I'm well on the road to recovery now so my fans in Norwich shouldn't worry, I'll be ready.'

Mr Andre has been to Norwich before, headlining the UEA's LCR.

And despite having just announced big arena tour dates for next year, he is buoyant about the benefits of this slightly smaller show.

'It should feel closer to the crowd, there should be plenty of audience participation.

'We may not have the fireworks and stuff that we get in the arena tour, but we have some great dancers and we put on a good show. We have to see what we can use as it all depends on the venue, but I'm the kind of guy that wants to use everything.'

Mr Andre mixes a musical career with that of a reality TV star.

His life is documented at every turn and the show at the Showground will be filmed as part of his latest TV show, Peter Andre: My Life.

But it wis clear that he wants to show Norwich that the stage is where he believes he was born to be.

'I love being on stage, more than anything. It is a real escape for me.

'TV is the future but for me, I want to be on stage, more than doing the reality TV.

'I will be in my element on Saturday, getting up close and personal with crowds, I just love it.

'It's my chance to give love back to the Norwich fans.'

The English born Australian musician, presenter, businessman and TV personality says fans can expect songs from his first shot at a music career in the 1990s, including number one hit Mysterious Girl, and some from his post I'm a Celebrity comeback albums including his latest work, Accelerate, released in November last year.

'There will be songs people know, some they may not know. I'm going to be singing some Christmas songs and having fun with the crowd as well,' he said.

'I'm just really looking forward to coming up there and feeding off the love from the crowd, looking forward to meeting my Norwichians.

'There's always been great crowds, as you go up north a little bit it just gets friendlier and friendlier, and anywhere past North London is north for me!

'I Just want to say thanks to everyone, wrap up warm and we'll have a great time. Wear some thermals and a scarf and we'll be rocking!'

Meanwhile, Perrier award and Chortle Comedy Award winning stand up Jason Manford's show in Norwich tonight could be his last for a while.

Rumours were rife that the Mancunian funnyman and former BBC's The One Show presenter would cease touring until 2013 after last week's show at the O2 Arena in London, to spend time with his young family.

But just before Christmas takes hold and fatherly responsibility becomes the norm, Mr Manford is set to wow fans in a city which he says has treated him well on previous trips.

'Ive just finished my tour, so this is kind of like the last gig of the year for me,' said Mr Manford.

'They say it is like a drug. I only performed last Tuesday and then came back home to dirty nappies and screaming kids – I miss being on stage already! This will be my last show for a while, so I'm really looking forward to it.

'It's a weird one, Norwich. It's really hard to get to, as if you don't want anyone to get there. But it is worth it, everyone's really friendly and grateful to you for coming.'

He has previously performed at the Theatre Royal and Norwich Playhouse, and says he was struck by what he found in Norwich.

'At the Theatre Royal the staff are so lovely, they sat me down, put the kettle on and brought me a piece of cake, it was like a home from home,' he said.

'There is a perception and a stereotype about Norwich, that everyone owns a tractor and so on, but when you get there it is beautiful, a bustling metropolis.

'I think it's a secret that you guys like to keep, you know you've got a lovely place and you don't want anyone to come here and ruin it. You say: 'yeah you just carry on thinking that, don't come here'. I think I've rumbled you.'

Hailing from Salford, Manchester, and having just completed a 173 date tour of some of the biggest arenas in the country, Mr Manford is ready for the contrast Norwich offers.

'Norwich is different to the big cities, people come for a laugh, rather than demanding it,' he said.

'They are really receptive, they want to make sure you come again. You find in Norwich they are more interactive and not shy about joining in.

'I really like that, hearing something new. I mean, I've heard my jokes before.'

He says his act will cover themes from family and the military, to football and using the shower.

When asked why Norwich had such a good reputation among comedians, the answer was clear; word of mouth.

'Some places don't get as many comedians visiting because one or two may have had a bad time there and word spreads,' said Mr Manford.

'When you hear about Norwich, other comedians say, 'hard to get to, but that one was worth it'.

'It is a cool place, cool people, when I've played previously they were always great.

'Like me, they laugh at the clever stuff or someone farting, they just appreciate a laugh.

'On tour, I will always do Norwich.'

Mr Manford will be headlining on Friday alongside one line wizard Milton Jones.

Mr Manford added: 'Milton's a real comic's comic, lovely fella.

'It will be a nice contrast, me doing anecdotal stories and him doing jokes that come out of nowhere.'

Tickets for both shows have sold fast but some are still available on the door or by calling Unisoft Events on 01362 654 848.

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