GREGOR Fisher is on the phone from his home in central France, having emerged from a debate with a man over large boulders, which reveals much of where his life is at the moment. The most conspicuous string-vest wearer on the planet, (he brought more to the garment that Albert Steptoe or Del Boy) the one-time Rab C Nesbitt, is having a swimming pool dug out of his backyard by “a bloke with a Gauloises in his mouth.” But it’s not going well. “We’ve just uncovered bedrock,” he says, “and that’s not good. That puts the price up.”

The fiscally-aware Fisher quickly points out he’s not even keen to enjoy the delights of one’s own cement pond, even if it’s just yards from his back door. “When I was a wee boy I almost drowned when I fell into a sludge tank,” he says of a horrific episode growing up in Neilston in Renfrewshire in the early 1960s.

“So I’m not keen on water of any sort. But I’m married to a lady [actress Vicky Burton; the pair met on stage in A Midsummer Night’s Dream while he was revealing his Bottom] who is very keen on the swimming.”

His voice becomes very Rab as he says, “I’ll be going nowhere near it,” just missing out on adding, “Let me tell you this, boy.”

Gregor Fisher, however, hasn’t called to simply share his pool plight. We met by chance a couple of weeks ago in Glasgow when he was visiting friends, and he told me he was planning to appear in an Audience With . . . . show. The actor is now following up the chat to explain he will talk about his life and times. And the evening could well prove to be fascinating because over the years it would have been easier to prise off Rab’s head bandage than to prompt Fisher to open up about his past.

In interviews he always hinted at more than he would surrender, which was disappointing because he’s naturally funny – and sharper than Ella Cotter’s nails.

So why has he now lowered the drawbridge? “We used to come to France to holiday with friends Nigel West and Robert Scott,” he says. “Nigel is a theatre director and Robert a musical director. Anyway, Nigel has been asking me to do a show for years, to have a laugh. My reaction has always been, ‘Don’t be so stupid.’ But this year he tried again, for the last time, he said, to get me to do this chat show. And my wife agreed that it could well be a laugh so I’m having a go.”

There are other reasons for Fisher’s opening up. Four years ago he wrote an autobiography, The Boy From Nowhere, telling of his lineage. He revealed how he was born in Menstrie, but his mother died and he was handed over for adoption. Yet, having been adopted once, by the Fishers, was then then handed over to the Leckie family. Later, he discovered his biological father, or rather the man whom he thought to be his father, was not his real father at all.

His story, he said at the time, had been a ball of wool that unravelled. Gradually Fisher picked up the threads. At least he can speak on stage without a sense of keeping that part of his past secret.

There’s also a sense of time racing past. Fisher is soon to be 66, and in recent times had a heart scare. All is well now. “Although I’ve put on a bit of beef recently,” he says, with a dry chuckle. “My French-Egyptian doctor will probably give me a bollocking, in French, for drinking too much beer.”

But overall the actor, who has featured in films such as Love, Actually, 1984 and The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino, is more relaxed about sharing himself out a little. “I’m prepared to go wherever the questions take me,” he declares of the night in Greenock. But will he have advance knowledge of the questions coming at him? “I know them roughly, but you need a shape, don’t you?”

There’s little doubt he’s had a fascinating journey. There is a richness in the poverty of Fisher’s upbringing in Renfrewshire, which includes a poverty of imagination shown by his school, Barrhead High. The intelligent schoolboy was allowed to leave, shockingly, aged 15, to literally shovel s*** in a chicken farm, later working in a toilet factory.

Thankfully, a seed of possibility had been sown while at school by a teacher, Mr Ball, who threw a copy of the Mikado at him and commanded: ‘Learn that, Fisher. You’re playing that part.” He loved it. And he loved appearing in a Noel Coward play. The teenager realised he could act and was accepted by Glasgow’s RSAMD, his personal rescue centre. But what of needing the applause, as most actors do? “I’ve never been short of attention in my career,” he says with a shrug. (Nor has he ever sought it.) “For me, it’s about the work.”

Since then he’s won plaudits for his theatre work and, of course, for his role as the eponymous street philosopher in Rab C Nesbitt, which evolved from a Naked Video sketch to BBC2 sitcom in 1988, featuring wife Mary’doll and chums Jamesie and Ella Cotter. He also showed he can produce pathos perfectly with his stint as the put-upon manager to Billy Nighy’s pop star in Love, Actually.

Will all of this be talked about on the night? “There will certainly be a beginning, middle and an end,” he says.

“Yes, it will feature the A-Z of the life.

But it won’t be a night of misery. I want people to join in the laughs I’ve had

along the way, the daftness of it all.”

He will be talking about early theatre shows, the chaos, the excitement. He will be talking about early ambition and dreams. “I hope there aren’t too many googlies from the questioners.”

He adds: “I’ll be talking about how it was, but at the same time I’m not in the business of bad-mouthing people. I don’t see the point of it.”

So he won’t be talking of the scunners he has worked with over the years? He laughs: “I’d need to be careful of that because I can see others writing a book The Scunners I Have Worked With – and I’d probably feature in all of them.

“A lot has to do with audience. I experienced that when I did a tour promoting the book. You never know what they will come out with.”

When he appeared in Stirling, he took questions from an audience member. “This auld fella with a stick called out, ‘A kent your faither!’ I was taken aback, and he added: ‘Aye, a’ was practically at the conception’, which caused a wave of chuckling from the audience. All I could say was, ‘Was it a good night?’

“I hadn’t factored that all of these people would show up who knew my family. And lots of them had black and white photos of people who were significant to my childhood.”

That must have been fantastic, a further insight into a world once denied to him? “No. It wasn’t fantastic. It was odd. These people suggested some sort of connection – yet I felt no connection whatsoever. To be honest, you are more important to me than these people because we have a history.” He adds: “I hope there will be none of that in Greenock.”

Is he glad to have ticked the box that was the memoir? “I think so. But the truth of the matter is you never get the full picture. It’s like when you’re a kid and you get a join-the-dots book. When you join them it sort of looks like a picture but it’s not quite what it should be.

“There are the spaces in between. And I got a lineage, but you don’t really know a person because you never got to see the whites of their eyes, their laughter or their tears or the joy when they get that new bike.”

His world, he admits, is Vicky and the three grown-up children. But what of plans for the future? Fisher’s lack of attachment to any geographical location has seen him move house more often than Kirsty and Phil. He’s long had building projects on the go, extensions to build.

Will he remain in France, in a house with a lovely new swimming pool in which Vicky and the visiting weans can splash around in? It seems not.

“We might stay a bit longer but I suspect the siren call to return to the homeland will arrive in the form of our children having babies of their own. We’d like to be nearer to them then.

“But having said that, the kids come here at every opportunity and it’s not Australia, is it? And it takes the same time to get back to Glasgow as it took when we lived in Brixton.”

He adds, laughing: “The honest truth is I don’t really know where I’m going or why I’m doing any of it. I don’t really know why I do lots of things. Often, there’s no rhyme nor reason to any of it.”

What the audience members in Greenock will most certainly ask is what of Rab? Will Govan’s sub-class warrior ever emerge from the crypt he’s currently contained in? “I’ll say to the audience that we’re having a wee gentle chat about that at the moment. Nesbitt is cooking, but I don’t know whether it will ever come out of the oven.”

Fisher has never been one to bang on the doors of job opportunity – he accepts offers as often as Rab has been invited to model Armani underwear. He’d rather be organising French builders. But he reveals he’s set to appear in a TV drama.

“There was a job came in for me recently for the drama There She Goes, with David Tennant. I was asked to come and play his father. Now, ordinarily, I don’t like guesting in things but I know David quite well. He once appeared in a Nesbitt episode and in Para Handy with me and he’s an awful nice boy.

“And so the reason I did it was because I knew I’d be working with one of the good guys.”

He laughs. “Ordinarily I’d say, ‘Naw, I’m awful busy digging a hole in the garden.’”

But he’s taken up the offer to appear in Greenock. For a laugh. “Yes, and it will be a laugh,” he says, with a little tinge of hope in his voice.

But, as we say goodbyes, he offers an add-on to his swimming pool tale, which could well feature in a sitcom. (Not surprising because of the grief it’s causing currently.)

Fisher’s pool, he reveals, could be full of elderly French ladies next year, taking an afternoon dook.

“There is a law in France which decrees if you have a pool you have to allow your neighbours to come and use it if they have the need to cool down.” He adds, laughing: “I actually think it’s a great law. What fun we’ll have.”

A Wee Blether With Gregor Fisher, the Beacon Theatre Greenock, No-vember 23 at 7.30pm.