IT’S not very often that Ann Widdecombe is rendered speechless, but she had absolutely no answer to one particular left-field question from the audience.

As one of the most outspoken politicians of our time who is approaching ‘national treasure’ status, she’s never been afraid of courting controversy, delivering hard-hitting home truths, or indeed sending herself up in self-deprecating comedy.

And as she prepares to embark on her first ever national theatre tour with her one-woman show, which visits Shelley Theatre on Friday, April 5, Strictly Ann: An Evening With Ann Widdecombe, it’s the chance to engage in cheeky banter with the unpredictable British public that she’s particularly relishing.

“One of the things I enjoy the most about going on stage in a show like this is that you never really know who your audience will be, and what you’re going to be asked next,” she says.

“I’ve never said that any topic is off limits in terms of questions, and I’ve been asked just about everything in my time, from the ins and outs of my time in politics and showbusiness, to more personal things like whether I’d ever envisage marrying, or regret not having children.

“But probably one of the most bizarre questions I have ever been asked was whether I could understand why anyone might want to have an extra-marital affair with former deputy prime minister John Prescott. I’m not struggling to come up with an answer very often, but that was certainly one of those occasions!”

Ann who stood down as an MP in 2010 after 23 years in parliament, lifts the lid on life behind the scenes in Westminster, as well as sharing behind-the-scenes gossip from some of the nation’s best-loved programmes, including her time on Strictly Come Dancing, Have I Got News For You and Celebrity Big Brother.

She says: “The show is split into two halves. The first part involves me talking mainly about all the things I have done since leaving Westminster, and then after the interval it’s up to the audience to decide the talking points, as we move to a question and answer format.”

From her early family life in Singapore and her convent school days to her student ambitions at Birmingham and Oxford, and long-serving years as an MP, Ann can offer a unique insight into her time as a minister in three departments of John Major’s Tory Government.

She is also happy to talk – as indeed she does in her autobiography – about the roots of her conversion to Catholicism in 1993, or her deeply held views on abortion and gay marriage.

“I don’t want people to think that this show is some sort of party political broadcast,” she says. “First and foremost it’s a night of comedy; it’s entertainment. Ever since I signed up to do Strictly Come Dancing I’ve discovered just how much I like making people laugh.” See