AWARD-WINNING radio presenter and writer Danny Baker, talks about his battle with cancer and his spat with BBC execs ahead of his tour, Good Time Charlie’s Here, which arrives in Colchester tonight.

Danny Baker chuckles in the knowledge that he’s just been voted 15th in a poll of Britain’s greatest radio hosts - ahead of Chris Evans, Tony Blackburn and Paul Gambaccini.

These days he only does a two-hour Saturday show on BBC Radio 5 live, and says he’s as happy sorting out his 12,000-strong album collection as he is being on air.

It’s a far cry from 2012, when his BBC Radio London show was axed and he proceeded to have a prolonged rant about it on his last show, describing his superiors as ‘pinhead weasels’ (and, off-air, gave the executives who made the decision a piece of his mind).

The whole debacle is featured in his third autobiography, Going On The Turn, following on from his previous witty memoirs Going To Sea In A Sieve and Going Off Alarming.

And while his trademark humour abounds in this section of the book, it seems he’s laughing about some of it through gritted teeth.

“The same week I was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, I was let go by local radio,” he recalls. “But the people who run all the media in this country want to have issues to talk about. They don’t put any weight by entertainment. My radio show was nothing but absolute froth, brilliantly delivered, but they didn’t understand it.”

By his own admission, Danny prefers to do things spontaneously, to turn up ten minutes before a show and let it run its course, rather than be bound by planning meetings run by producers.

“The erroneous reputation I’ve got is someone who is a little bit edgy and dangerous, and that’s absolutely not true at all. Anyone who listens to my show knows the sausage sandwich game and the calls about who your mother secretly fancied.

“If I don’t do that two-hour show on a Saturday morning, I’m not in radio at all. Radio won’t touch me with a bargepole. They would rather use me as a poster boy for how it should be done.”

While there’s endless humour in Going On The Turn, he pulls no punches when describing what he endured after being diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2010, yet it’s clear he’s not one for misery memoirs.

“It’s not my style to look down, not up. I don’t find other people’s troubles, worries and illnesses fascinating.,” he says.

So he’s matter-of-fact about the treatment he needed, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy (he had to be fitted with a mask which was bolted down to the theatre table during the radiotherapy sessions).

For months, he was unable to eat or drink, and had to be fitted with a tube via a hole into his stomach for feeding and administering morphine.

The doctors warned him about the discomfort (understatement of the century!) he would likely endure, but he never asked questions, taking the attitude that the less he knew, the better.

“I never Googled it, I never asked any questions, because that’s the only thing you can do. You’ve got no control over it. There’s nothing you can do. It was a straight fight and I was the battleground. Cancer versus science - you just have to let it happen.

“It’s so much more awful than you can possibly imagine. You don’t have time to be scared. It’s a useless response. It’s horrendous, but here we are now. Treat it like a roundabout, drive straight on.”

Cancer hasn’t changed him, he says. “I’ve learned no lessons and I’m not a better person. It hasn’t changed the way I live my life. It hasn’t changed my personality.”

And although he vowed to quit touring, he’s now back on the road with his new show Good Time Charlie’s Back.

“When I was promoting the book,” he says, “I did a couple of festivals and they sold out really quickly.

“The books are fine and great, and the TV series were fine and great. But I still tell the stories first hand, and that’s how they work best.”

What is most extraordinary about his first show - entitled Cradle To The Stage – is that Danny only covered a fraction of his upbringing in south London.

“I hadn’t even left school by the end of the three-hour shows. I had 48 photos to show people. We got through six.”

Danny still had an absolute wealth of stories to recount, but initially he wasn’t convinced he should do another tour.

“The promoters asked, ‘Do you want to go again?’ I replied, ‘I’m not so sure.’ Then the first cheque came in from the tour, and I said, ‘Let’s go again’.”

Comprising more uproarious anecdotes from his treasure trove of life stories, Danny clearly relishes the live experience, revelling in the contagious atmosphere of a show that is being delivered to an ecstatic audience and will never be repeated.

“If you asked me now, ‘What shape are the shows and what stories did you tell last time?’,” he begins, “I wouldn’t know. People say, ‘What’s your favourite subject you’ve done on the radio?’ But I don’t know what kind of reverie I go into when I’m on the radio. Which is how it should be. You’d be like a mad person if you talked like that all the time!

“I had loads and loads of uncles and aunts. My wife is one of 10. Our house was always full of pushchairs and bikes and you had to be competitive to be heard. Our family was noisy. But even before I left school, I was fortunate enough to realise that when something funny happened, it would make a great story.

“They’re not written down. I’m like the Navajo; it’s all an oral history, passed down through the generations. It’s not a written language. But that’s the fun of it. If it were written down, the audience could tell, and it would take some of the vim out of it.”

Danny Baker is at Charter Hall, Leisure World, Cowdray Avenue, Colchester, tonight at 7.30pm. Doors are at 6.30pm and tickets are £23.50, available from