DOROTHY Paul places the homemade soup on the table of her rather lovely Glasgow home with much more than the usual ceremony.

Why? There's an acute awareness this is the last time her peppers and sweetcorn creation will be served up in the customary pre-interview fashion.

That's because the comedy performer from the East End of Glasgow is pulling down the curtain on a showbiz career after sixty years. Her upcoming Comedy Festival dates will be the last.

"It will be strange for me to give it up," she admits, in soft voice. "But I think it's time to call it a day."

Is it, Dorothy? The lady looks at least ten years younger than the date on her birth certificate (1937) would suggest. And where will we be without Scotland's Grande Dame of Comedy.

"Yes, but I'm tired, darling'" she says. "I've been working on this final show for four months, plus, I have a hard time remembering the lines. It happens to most people of my age. It's just a fact of life."

Dorothy Paul has always given her best on stage. "It's been hard at times to go out there," she says. "Playing the clubs in the sixties and seventies was often horrendous. At times, you were treated like you were less than dirt. And as for trying to break into comedy? Well, it was a man's world. And I've actually worked with comedians who told me to stop being funny. What they didn't want was a woman getting the laughs."

It wasn't only men who didn't encourage funny women. "I once worked in Ireland for a female panto producer who cast me as the Principal Girl. Then the next year she told me I was too old to play the part. I was to play the Old Fairy, she decreed. Paul pauses for comedic effect. 'I was thirty two at the time.'"

Dorothy Pollock, as she was, emerged from Dennistoun as a soprano and began working on the touring circuit. But she wasn't part of the thick-skinned showbiz set. In early shows, the doctor prescribed green Chartreuse to help her nerves (which still haven't subsided). Young Dorothy didn't know she was glugging alcohol.

The lady battled a serious drink problem in later life, but that never stopped her battling to find work. "I felt I could be funny and I persisted," she recalls. "And I knew that not all male comedians were funny. In fact, some were as funny as a sore a***. But I suppose I've been helped by the fact I've always seen the absurdity in life. And my mother was funny."

Dorothy harnessed the Glaswegian aggressive humour and gave it a female voice. But when variety shows died, and the One O'Clock Gang television show ran out of time, the lady - now on her own with two young daughters - worked a range of jobs, from seemstress to continuity announcer, from saleswoman to acting teacher.

"I even wrote to Dr Who who replied with a very funny line: 'We're not looking for any Glasgow aliens at the moment'. But at the time I was so desperate I was eating the grapes off the wallpaper."

She adds, of the hardest times. "Once, when I didn't get the part in the King and I, I went home and began kicking the fridge. I thought I'd done so well in audition. Then I got a phone call to come for an audition for the Steamie."

Life happens when you least expect it. And the acting break revealed Dorothy Paul to the world. The actress was selected for the role of Magrit by director Alex Norton, and she tore halls apart with laughter. "My comedy is all about self-effacement," she says.

Does she have regrets in the business? Some. She fell out with writing pal John Bett, which saddens her. "But I have to say the audiences have been wonderful and I'm so grateful for them coming to see me."

And personal regrets? "Yes, that I've spent a lot of time on my own." Her voice softens: "I regret not having a partner around."

But she retires with some great memories. "Of all the lovely people I've worked with, from the girls in the Kraft Cheese factory to Wildcat Theatre Company. And some special moments. After I did my first one-woman show at the Tron Theatre, Billy Connolly came to see me backstage. I felt a bit awkward, and said 'Look, Billy, despite what some people say, I'm not trying to be a female version of you.' And he gave me this giant hug, and said 'No, hen, you've got your own talent.'"

At this point, Dorothy's eyes well up. "I need a hug, darlin'. Give me a hug."

And she gets her hug and she smiles. "I'm going to miss it," she says of the stage. It's all I've known. You can bet there will be tears and snotters on the night."

And big laughs, of course. Dorothy Paul serves up great soup and great big laughs.

*Classic Dorothy, Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline March 20, Motherwell Concert Hall, March 24, The King's Theatre, Glasgow, March 26 (2.30 and 7.30pm).