John Shuttleworth

King's Hall, Ilkley

A MILD bout of Athlete's Foot has led John Shuttleworth to focus on his mortality, and after much soul-searching he's decided to call time on showbiz.

He's retiring, he says, because life in the public eye has become "too risky" in light of the celebrity departures of 2016.

John's new show, My Last Will and Tasty Mint, which may or may not be his last, sees him musing on life's simple pleasures; among them having fun on the A11 11 - "like the A1 but four times as good". Looking ahead to retirement has led him to contemplate mortality, which, he reminds us, comes to us all - with the exception of Vince Hill.

John Shuttleworth, beautifully observed and hilarious alter ego of Graham Fellows, has been sharing his homespun philosophies and jaunty songs for three decades. There are shades of Alan Bennett and Victoria Wood among John's ramblings, with an edgy charm all of his own. Behind the Shuttleworth persona is a gifted musician who can veer from rap to reggae to rock - all on his trusty Yamaha, beneath the sparkle of a glitter ball - at the drop of a hat, and keep a packed-out crowd chuckling and singing along for a full two hours.

Only Sheffield's most subversive suburban songsmith could have his audience waving mobiles in the air during a much-loved ballad about the perils of "going back to savoury" once you've already started your pud.

As well as old favourites like Y Reg, Pigeons in Flight, One Cup of Tea is Never Enough (But Two is Too Many) and Mingling With Mourners - "some sitting in corners, some eyeing the quiche" - John shared his reflections on the ebb and flow of life. Taking inspiration from the title of his show, he gave us wise words about various 'tasty mints', not least the potential life-saving qualities of the Polo, and the sadness and regret that haunts him following the demise of the Pacer - "a minty sister sweet to the Opal Fruit". Don't get him started on the end of the little cardboard trays supporting the "fragile coconut bars" of the Bounty...

Along the way came 'phone calls to his manager, Ken Worthington, and occasional glimpses into domestic life with wife Mary, who was getting stuck into a Poldark box set back home in their modest semi.

He and Mary have done well to stick together, following the "nightmare scenario" of the day she accidentally opened a second margarine tub in the fridge; a cautionary tale captured in my favourite Shuttleworth ditty, Two Margarines On The Go.

Don't retire, John. That really would be a nightmare scenario.