A BOLTON comedian has hit the road for a show which sees her hunting for her dad and finding a 1990s pop star.

Sophie Willan is on tour with The Novice Detective, an auto-biographical story based around her childhood search for her long-lost father and featuring a slightly psychic gran.

She said: “I went to live with my grandma when I was eight years old. I had never met my father. He left when I was a baby.”

In her first solo show, Miss Willan is performing at more than 50 venues across the country, including the Contact Theatre, in Oxford Road, Manchester, on Saturday, March 22.

Miss Willan, who has lived all over Bolton, including Egerton, Bromley Cross, Tonge Moor, Halliwell, Heaton and Farnworth, said: “I’m proud of being from Bolton for many reasons.

“It’s our innate sense of humour, our rebellious, socialist history, our pasties — Ye Olde Pastie Shoppe has got to be the best pasty shop in the world — Teddy Ashton, Peter Kay, my Uncle Doug, the list goes on.”

It was while on holiday in Ibiza with her grandma, at the age of eight, that she got her first taste of performing while at a children’s club and realised it was her passion.

The former Turton High School pupil said: “I left school with no qualifications, but at 17 I decided enough was enough and it was time to get myself together.

“I threw myself into writing and performing. I got involved with as much as I could.

“I think having something of your own — a skill, a hobby, a talent — that you’re passionate about and that gives you a sense of purpose and validation is one of the most important things a person can have.”

Fusing comedy, theatre and detective spoofery, the show is described as a heart-warming and heartbreaking interactive “who-is-it?”

Miss Willan said: “It was the 1990s, my gran and I were determined to find my father and a series of uncanny coincidences lead to us tracking down a ’90s pop star who we believed to be him.

“Whether he was or not, you’ll have to come to the show to find out.”

Candid and comical, The Novice Detective is a story about fantasy, failure, grief and love and, ultimately, hope.

Miss Willan, who won the Contact Theatre’s Flying Solo 2012 competition, added: “I wanted to make a show that was original, poignant and heaps of fun.

“There's a lot of inaccessibility and pretension in live works.

“I believe that shows can and should be smart, accessible and fun, all at the same time.”

The Novice Detective, suitable for ages 14 and over, is at the Contact Theatre, Oxford Road, Manchester, on March 22.

  • Visit contactmcr.com or phone 0161 2740600 to book tickets.