AS frontman of indie darlings The Maccabees, Orlando Weeks is at first glance an unlikely candidate to provide one of the most moving events of the festive season.

But The Gritterman, which come to Manchester’s Albert Halls next week, promises to be just that as it gets its first performance outside London.

Orlando will be performing with a band, choir and Fast Show star Paul Whitehouse who will narrate the central role of The Gritterman.

In the summer, The Gritterman works as an ice cream man but his first love is keeping the roads safe during the winter months. His world is turned upside down when the local council writes to tell him his services are no longer required and the audience gets to follow our hero on his final night of doing the job that he loves.

Orlando wrote and illustrated the story and composed the music for a companion album. It was performed at London’s Union Chapel last year to rave reviews with critics comparing it to the work of Raymond Briggs, author of the Snowman.

“I think that was going a little far but it’s an incredible compliment,” said Orlando. “When we did one performance last year I thought would be it.”

The Maccabees decided to call it a day after 13 years in 2017 during which time they recorded four hugely successful albums.

It was while waiting for the band’s farewell tour that Orlando started to work on The Gritterman.

“I’d just moved to Berlin to live for a year and I was enjoying the isolation of being in city where I didn’t know my way round. I wanted to spend time making something.

“I had the idea for a song about a seasonal hero which really became the seed for everything.”

For former art student Orlando, The Gritterman was the ideal way for him to enjoy his three passions - writing, music and illustration.

“I’d wake up every morning and do some drawings, go for walk and find a café to write then come home and work on the music,” he said.

“One of my tutors at university once said to me ‘you do all of these things, why not do something that uses all of them?’. At the time that didn’t get through to me but now it makes sense.”

As a result, The Gritterman has been published in book form by Penguin, there’s a companion album and now the live version with Paul Whitehouse who Orlando admits is integral to the performance’s success.

“I think I always pictured The Gritterman being someone who has that twinkle in the eye that he always has,” he said. “When he came into the studio for the first time he just blew my mind. He so subtle in his performance and I feel very lucky to have him.”

The Gritterman has been praised for it gentleness and its compassion.

“There’s something very old fashioned about the character,” said Orlando. “I think we all have these people in our lives who have impressed us with the way they deal with things.

“During the making of everything I’d not even though about it but now he does remind me of my grandfather in many ways.”

Orlando is currently working on some new music for an album which he hopes to release next year but he hasn’t finished with The Gritterman yet.

“I’m committed to making The Gritterman have a moving image version of itself probably an animated version,” he said. “Until I know it’s not going to happen or that I’ve achieved it, I don’t want to fill that space in my brain with another project. “

The Gritterman, Albert Hall, Manchester, Wednesday, December 12. Details from