AS a writer, actor and presenter Tony Robinson has both entertained and educated audiences for years.

It is now more than 20 years since he first gained cult status as Baldrick in TV's Blackadder but he still has a soft spot for the smelly underling and his woeful ruses - as the title of his new live stand-up show demonstrates.

A Cunning Night Out is Robinson's new, part-autobiographical, part-improvisational show, which comes to The Courtyard in Hereford next week.

The title, of course, is a reference to Baldrick's famous catch phrase - "I have a cunning plan" - but the new show will cover the whole of Robinson's career, from his first stage performance at the age of 12 as the Artful Dodger to his latest TV series The Worst Jobs in History.

"The first half of the show will be stand-up based on my experiences of life and work, including some of my own worst jobs," explains Robinson. "Then in the second half there will be a lot more improvisation and, hopefully, a lot of crowd participation."

By mostly improvising the second half Tony is laying his reputation on the line and his wit will need to be at its sharpest to come back to the hecklers he expects to be in attendance.

With his strong Labour Party ties you might be forgiven for thinking Tony would be apprehensive about performing in Hereford, with its largely Conservative and Liberal allegiances, but he can't wait for a bit of lively debate.

"I always seem to have my best performances in the Tory heartland, a bit like Tony Benn. It seemed to bring out the best in him," he said. "It's always a very good laugh. I'm looking forward to the debates - that's what a democracy is all about."

As presenter of Channel 4's Time Team, Tony came to Herefordshire in March 2000 in a bid to find King Offa's Palace.

Although the dig, just south of the Sutton Walls, didn't bring up any conclusive signs of the Mercia ruler, some 12th century pottery was found and Tony finished the show saying that the site was "a strong candidate for further archaeological research".

Tony often pops in and out of Hereford and says border towns fascinate him.

"I always like visiting towns near borders, it's interesting to see the influence of two separate cultures on one place," said the history buff. "I think the history of Hereford is only half written, there's a lot more to discover here."

With current TV commitments piling in, Tony is finding it hard to find time to write.

"I'm doing so much work with Time Team and Worst Jobs... that writing is on the back burner for while." After having written children's books for years, Tony hopes to clear some space in his busy schedule to fulfil one of his ambitions.

"I can't really make plans for the future because I am so busy at the minute," he said, "but I would love to try and find the time to write a novel."

Tony is bringing his Cunning Night Out to the Courtyard, Hereford, on February 1 at 7.30pm.

Tickets are available from the box office on 0870 1122330.