NOTTINGHAM is known for many things but for comedian John Bishop it conjures up one particular memory.
“It’s the only arena gig I’ve had to pause because there was a fight in the audience,” he laughs.
This was at the end of last year when he played four nights at the Capital FM Arena on his Rollercoaster tour.
“I stopped the show, we got all the lights up in the arena and just watched while I did a commentary from the stage.
“It was brilliant,” he adds, continuing to chuckle.
“The security dealt with it, everybody cheered and we carried on with the gig. Afterwards they told me after it was two families who’d had a rumble in the street or something, found themselves sat next to each other and a few words are exchanged. You know what it will have been about; the girls will have had too much wine, one of them will have started arguing with the other...”
The incident doesn’t make it in to Bishop’s autobiography, How Did All This Happen?, which follows his journey from council estates in and around Liverpool and Cheshire to becoming one of Britain’s best known comedians.
Along the way he has a spell as a semi-professional footballer, travels across the US in a sports car, rides home from Australia on a bicycle and carves out a relatively successful career in medical sales.
It was the breakdown of his marriage led prompted him to pack that in and try out stand-up comedy.
He and his wife Melanie didn’t stay apart for long and the couple have now been together for 20 years, living at home in Cheshire with their three teenage sons.
“I spoke to a few people who had written books and they’d spoke to family members and friends to get stories or looked through photo albums... I didn’t do any of that,” says the 46-year-old, who was born in Liverpool, one of three children to Ernie and Kathy Bishop.
“If I didn’t remember it, it didn’t happen to me,” he continues.
“The only story in the book that came out of a conversation with someone else is when I was in the Comedy Store and a fella tried to commit suicide and ended up in the audience. That came out of a conversation I had with another comic who was there. I’d forgot all about it.”
To write the bulk of it he decamped to Spain and rented a villa on his own. Once he’d finished the first draft, Bishop sent copies around the family.
“I said ‘is there anything in that I’ve got wrong or you object to?. I did all that and it was OK. I finished the second draft, gave it to the wife to read, then it goes to print, they publish it, I send me dad a copy and he’s says ‘I’m 72, not 74!’.
“I couldn’t believe it.”
He adds: “Me dad’s dead funny and dead straight; you know where you are with me dad. My mum and dad both read the book and my mum phoned up saying how wonderful it was, that she’d laughed and cried... then she put me dad on. I asked him if he’d read it and he said ‘Yeah, it was good that, yeah.”
The reaction of his three teenage songs was similarly downbeat.
“One morning over breakfast they said they’d all finished it and I asked them ‘what did you think?’ They said: ‘Yeah, it was all right’”, which makes him howl with laughter.
“That was probably glowing praise from them. And it was the longest conversation I’d had with them in six months.”
Details of his marriage breakdown and his wife’s miscarriage opened up his family to public scrutiny; something he was well aware of when writing the book.
“I asked her if she was OK with all of it. I said ‘I’ve come to a point where I don’t think I can write anymore unless I put those aspects of it in because I can’t mentally explain why I’ve done all the other things I’ve done in my life.’ And fair play, Melanie was very supportive. I hope I’ve represented what it all meant to her as well.”
He adds: “I’m not going to lie, there’s a little bit of nervousness. If you’re in the limelight you get the praise and you learn how to deal with the criticism but if you’re a family member you don’t get that thick skin.”
Unlike many celebrity autobiographies, How Did All This Happen? doesn’t grind to a halt just as fame is looming.
“I told the publishers that this would be one book,” he says.
“I’m not doing that thing where I write a book up to the age of 21 then you get another one next year.”
He’s written it up to the end of last year, therefore covering the sell-out arena tours, TV shows and Paris to London challenge which raised over £4m for Sport Relief.
“If I do another book it’ll be in another 46 years time,” he promises.
“I gave it that title because it’s what I keep asking myself. Even now. You get used to certain aspects of it and there is a tipping point where you think ‘well that’s it now, I’m officially famous’”.
He concedes: “Even if they kick me off the telly I can’t go back to the person I was but I want to let people know who that person was.”
Bishop will be back on tour next year and returning to the Capital FM Arena, despite the punch up last time.
“Nottingham is a great city to play.”
He adds: “Doing stand-up is what my job is now. Everything else is an add-on.”
A League of Their Own.
"I had a few issues with availability with the last series but I made myself available with this series. I was asked to do one and I said no. I’m still really good mates with the lads. I’ll go on holiday with Jamie and I’ll see James a lot, I was seeing Freddie every week over the summer. Sky don’t know why, the producers keep saying 'I don’t know why'... it just didn’t happen."