New season: Norwich Playhouse

Tony CooperNorwich Playhouse has built up an enviable reputation for comedy over the past few years. And the St George's Street venue has plenty of comedians taking part in its new season, which runs from September to January.Tony Cooper

Norwich Playhouse has built up an enviable reputation for comedy over the past few years. And the St George's Street venue has plenty of comedians taking part in its new season, which runs from September to January.

And raising the first belly-laugh will be none other than the grumpy old man himself Arthur Smith (September 3-4), a former UEA student and, of course, the self-proclaimed Radio 4 'bit of rough', he'll rant, rave and reminisce about his life (and yours) in what promises a revealing and touching show.

Another comic coming for a two-night stint is Sean Hughes (September 11-12), star of ITV's The Last Detective and one of the founder panellists on BBC's Never Mind the Buzzcocks, as well as Sean's Show for Channel 4. He was the youngest comic ever to win the Perrier award for his Edinburgh Fringe debut in 1990.

Following in his footsteps for a two-night stay, too, is Marcus Brigstocke (September 23-24). He'll be talking about God and taking issue with the Almighty in his new show coming direct from this year's Edinburgh Festival.

And riding on top of his acclaimed BBC TV series Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, Lee stops off at the Playhouse for two nights on October 9-10 with his new show that's blazing a trail on a nationwide tour. The co-writer of Jerry Springer: The Opera, his new offering was inspired by an altercation in a high street coffee chain.

Double if.comedy nominee and a familiar face from Live at the Apollo, Russell Kane turns up in St George's Street on October 31 for an evening of fast-paced merriment, fresh from his Gaping Flaws tour and a one-month residency at the prestigious Melbourne Comedy Festival, while Down Under triple Perrier nominee and Playhouse favourite Adam Hills - a big hit at Latitude - also does a two-night stint (November 5-6) returning with a new show.

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Stuff and nonsense promises to come from the lips of Milton Jones (November 17) star of seven series for Radio 4 - most recently Another Case of Milton Jones - as well as a TV panel show regular, Time Out Award winner and Comedy Store stalwart. His new show is Milton's Paradise Jones.

And ex-Southend goalie Terry Alderton appears on November 26. Following a little chat with a certain Eddie Izzard - who loved the Playhouse when he appeared at the venue three years ago - he's been persuaded to take to the road.

Lee Mack holds court for three nights delivering a feast of one-liners (December 3-5), Rob Grant (December 11) - the award-winning co-creator of Red Dwarf - will apply his comedy to government incompetence, 21st-century technology and fun-size chocolate bars, while controversial Aussie Jim Jeffries follows in his wake (December 12) delivering in-your-face evening of confrontational comedy. Circuit regular Jo Caulfield hits the Playhouse stage on January 30.

To crown off the comedy side of the season comes Norwich's own, The Nimmo Twins, appearing for a short run from December 14 to December 23 with a day off on Sunday December 20. In Normal for Norfolk 11 (and a bit!) they'll deliver a programme comprising suffun' old, suffun' new, suffun' borrad and Sutton Hoo!

And as a curtain-raiser to the whole comedy programme Jimmy Tarbuck (August 25) appears on the Playhouse stage for the very first time, for a This is Your Life-style show, while Playhouse favourite Ennio Marchetto returns on on October 3 - perhaps not quite 'stand-up' but taking the art of mimicry and quick change into a new realm and characterising more than 50 of the world's most recognisable cultural icons ranging from Mona Lisa to Boy George and from Dolly Parton to Amy Winehouse.

t 01603 598598 Norwich Playhouse box office is at Norwich Theatre Royal, www.norwichplayhouse.org.uk