There's hardly been a time in James Martin's life when he hasn't been thinking about food. Growing up in a farming family on the Castle Howard estate in North Yorkshire, he set his sights at the tender age of eight on a career in cookery. Staying true to his one simple passion has brought him a 30-year career as a prime time television chef.

He's been on our screens since 1996 when he appeared in programmes such as James Martin: Yorkshire's Finest, Ready Steady Cook and The Big Breakfast. From 2006 to 2016 he presented the BBC's Saturday Kitchen series. In 2017 he switched to ITV for Saturday Morning, his weekend show which is still running, clocking up 230 episodes. He's introduced us to top chefs and food producers around the country, cooked for celebrities, shown us how to master the basics as well as well as more exotic and ambitious dishes, always delighting audiences with his infectious personality.

This autumn, he takes to the road for the fifth time in his show, James Martin Live, starting in Blackpool and touching down at the Regent Theatre in Ipswich on October 21. It promises to be an unforgettable evening of lively entertainment based around food and cooking.

Great British Life: James Martin live on stage. Photo: Jim CookeJames Martin live on stage. Photo: Jim Cooke

'There’s food, music, comedy and nostalgia; it’s a bit of everything,' says James. 'On my last tour I made a dish every eight minutes, including a massive Yorkshire pudding, a baked Alaska featuring a Barbie doll and an Arctic roll, and we will do something similar this time around. It's got to work visually, and we’ll have some fun with it. Each show is essentially everything that I’ve learnt in my career condensed into an hour and 50 minutes.'

Life in a professional kitchen is notoriously intense, so how does being on stage compare? 'It's fast paced and in real time, so nothing is prepared in advance. Touring blows everything I've ever done out of the water. When it’s just you on stage, performing at iconic venues such as the London Palladium, the responsibility, the work ethic and the nerves are greater – everything is increased tenfold.'

And once the cooking's done, audiences might also be surprised to see the chef turn rock star. 'I was asked for a strong ending to the show,' he explains, 'so I bought myself a guitar. We’ve got a band, James Martin’s Midnight Ramblers, and we've played to thousands of people. It’s going to be great.'

Great British Life: James Martin live on stage. Photo: Jim CookeJames Martin live on stage. Photo: Jim Cooke

For James, being on the road, touring, is ‘the pinnacle’ of his career and a chance to meet fans the icing on the cake. 'It’s a pinch-yourself moment. It doesn’t get any better than people coming to see you, with your name in lights. Nothing will top that.' Rather aptly, the tour coincides with a milestone achievement; James celebrates his 30th year on television in October. To remain current in an ever-changing world is no mean feat, but James has mastered the art with a charm and quality that has earned him a legion of fans.

'I attribute everything to my fans. Without them watching my shows, I wouldn’t be doing this for as long as I have. To still be doing it after 30 years, with my own show, is amazing. The only comparison is probably Rick Stein, and I think that’s because we have the same ethos; we love our food, and people like to watch our passion play out on camera.'

James doesn't consider himself famous – 'I’m just a chef on television' – and maybe it's his humble nature and desire for a private personal life that's made him so successful.

'When I first started out on television, there were only three channels. Now there’s social media and everyone wants to be famous. The last thing I ever wanted was fame. If you don’t maintain a work-life balance and keep your personal life out of the media, then there’s nowhere to hide. I’m a very private person and there’s a valuable lesson in that; it’s what keeps you grounded and keeps you sane.'

Great British Life: James Martin live on stage. Photo: Jim CookeJames Martin live on stage. Photo: Jim Cooke

A strong desire to champion British has also been key to James’ work, and what better place to discover and enjoy home-grown produce than in Suffolk. 'My director of Saturday Morning is from Suffolk, and I have a few friends who live there. I love exploring the produce of any county; from the apples in your cider, to the fish, fruit, meat and vegetables. Wherever I go, I try to seek out the best local suppliers.

'My family are farmers by trade, and I feel that you have a responsibility as a chef to encourage supplier support. Keeping local businesses going is key to the economy and environment. If we don’t look after the people who produce our food, it’s going to be a very sad state of affairs.'

This will be an underlying theme in an upcoming television programme fronted by James, which launches in the autumn. Filmed over seven weeks, James Martin’s Spanish Adventure will see him travel around Spain, sampling the local delicacies and meeting experts along the way.

Great British Life: James Martin... guitar hero . Photo: Jim CookeJames Martin... guitar hero . Photo: Jim Cooke

'Spain has such amazing produce and suppliers, so we wanted to shine a light on it. Some of the best chefs come from Spain and it is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. However, global warming has had a huge impact on food production and the country’s crops are down by 25 per cent. The programme sees us visit lots of places including Bilbao, San Sebastián, Vigo, Madrid, Seville, Cádiz, Gibralta and Barcelona.'

Indeed, James is always looking for ways to educate, inform and inspire, appealing to anyone who shares an interest in food, cooking and baking. Cookery shows have never been so popular – what is it that makes them so compelling?

'Food excites all the senses,' he says. 'Cookery programmes have evolved over the years, from the gameshow format of Ready, Steady, Cook, to competitions such as Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off... what will be next? Food will always be there; it’s an integral part of everything, and that’s why it will always be popular.'