THREE budding stand-up comedians have made it through to the final of a Bolton shopping centre’s search to find the town’s next big comic talent.

The grand final of Comedy Club, which was launched on April 1, by the Crompton Place shopping centre in partnership with the Octagon Theatre, will be judged by funny man Dave Spikey.

He will be joined on the judging panel by Caroline Jones from the management team at Crompton Place and Elizabeth Newman, associate director of the Octagon Theatre.

Three fledgling comedians, Adrian Baxter, Cassie Atkinson and Chris Kehoe, won their places in the final at a specially staged heat at the Subway shop in the centre.

The person crowned Bolton’s next King or Queen of Comedy will win the chance to perform their own stand-up during a one-off gig at the Octagon.

Mr Baxter, aged 35, who is a a caricaturist and prop designer, from Kearsley, said: “I was really excited about doing Comedy Club and while I have been very busy drawing cartoons, I thought ‘what the heck, give it a go’, and now I am through to the final.

"I actually did some stand-up about 11 years ago when I did three gigs and that was it. But it felt unfinished and when I saw this opportunity I decided to have another crack at it.”

Joining him in the final will be Miss Atkinson, aged 31, an actress who lives in Chorley New Road and impressed the judges with her character based comedy.

She said: “I feel really chuffed and it is a compliment that people have enjoyed my routine.

“You always have nerves as to whether other people are going to find you funny and that’s what you are doing it for.”

Mr Kehoe, aged 34, is a dad from Smithills who works as an in-house lawyer for Lancashire Police.

He has been doing stand-up at open mic nights in the area for the last six months.

He said: “It was strange doing stand-up in a shopping centre in front of a panel of judges instead of an audience in a pub.

"But it was a great experience and I am delighted to get through to the final because it is giving me the opportunity to perform in different venues, in front of different audiences.”

Malcolm Angus, Crompton Place Manager, said: “We have been bowled over with the standard of entrants to Comedy Club.

“The success of the search has been hugely helped by the support of Dave Spikey who will be with us for the final and also our partnership with the Octagon Theatre who are stumping up such a fantastic prize.”

For information on the competition go to l Find out who won in The Bolton News on Monday.