EXPECT the unexpected when antique expert David Harper comes to Colchester next year.

His latest stand-up show, Unexpected Tales, is an improvised, audience-led show and each one is different to the last.

David says: “The show is as unknown to me as it is to the audience, so that’s what they can expect - the unexpected.

“I tell funny stories from behind the scenes making TV shows, strange situations, working with odd celebrities, big profits, even bigger losses, shockers, historical adventures and disastrous TV appearances.”

David began his career presenting, first in radio and then TV presenting – initially for Channel 4 and then for the BBC. David was once asked to appear on local radio, talking about antiques (as he had an antiques shop in Barnard Castle), after which he caught the presenting ‘bug’.

David adds: “There is nothing funnier than real life, real people and real situations. And when you combine these with TV cameras, celebrities, classic cars, egos, money, fakes, forgeries, and competition - anything can happen - and it does. My comedy is real life story telling and I’ve found that I really like it.

“I love TV, radio and broadcasting generally, but when it is just you on a stage with an audience in front of you, there’s a real buzz about it. Because it is live and unscripted, it is seat of your pants stuff and this, I’ve found I really love. I’m genuinely petrified beforehand and often think to myself, I just want to go home and curl up in front of the telly, but once I’m on stage, my spirits lift, and I begin to enjoy myself.”

Inspired by his love of British comedy, David is influenced by the use of innuendo, suggestion and cheek. He doesn’t rely on swearing or making people feel uncomfortable. He loves the comedians he grew up with – Morecambe and Wise and Sgt Bilko.

“I am more of a story teller, although I do love the interaction with the audience” David explains. “The show is all about this interaction.

“I find this easier than standing up and delivering a written script. It is completely improvised, unscripted and off the cuff.”

Not only does David have a talent for presenting and comedy, he also has a love of art. Being part of the antiques business, David discovered his love of painting. He is inspired by the maverick artists, the ones who didn’t care what others thought, such as Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh.

“My art has been described in many different ways, depending on whether the critic liked it or not” David says. “Modernist is how I describe it. It’s free flowing, unprepared, so although I have an idea of what I want to paint, I just let it develop.”

David explained that he does still paint in his spare time, although it is mainly for commission pieces.

He explains: “I go through phases of prolific painting when I get the urge. I find it highly therapeutic. It is the only way I ever switch off and a time of almost meditation. In fact, it is the closest I get to meditation. I was once trained to meditate, but I couldn’t concentrate long enough for it to take effect. I can paint for hours on end and lose track of time.”

Clearly a creative person, David admits that he gets bored easily and so the variety of career choices keeps him entertained.

He continues: “I’m lucky in the sense that I only ever do what I really want to do. Sometimes that hasn’t worked out too well financially, but that doesn’t worry me. I love working, so best to do what you love, and it’s actually my hobby.”

David’s new one-man show, Unexpected Tales, is coming to Colchester Arts Centre on February 8 and he’s got quite the teaser to get bums on seats.

David reveals: “I guarantee to teach the audience something they’ll never forget.

“This something which was taught to me by a very well-known celebrity I was filming with and taught to them by a Fifties Hollywood Super star, this Hollywood secret may even change their lives forever, possibly.”

David Harper: Unexpected Tales is at the Colchester Arts Centre on February 8 at 8pm. Doors open half an hour before and tickets are priced £15 and £14 for concessions, available from the box office on 01206 500900 or on-line at colchesterartscentre.com