Ben Jolley reviews Leigh Francis My First Time tour, which visited the Cambridge Corn Exchange on March 14.

While broadsheets like The Guardian have panned character comedian Leigh Francis's first ever live tour, there’s no denying that he still has a loyal audience.

His fans absolutely love him, which was evident at his Cambridge debut, as more than 1,000 of them guffawed their way through a few hours at the Corn Exchange.

After picking up some pin badges, posters and t-shirts from the merch stand, the hordes of mates and middle-aged couples eagerly anticipated the arrival of the man behind Keith Lemon.

Almost instantly, the tone was set (extremely low), as Francis opened the show with some spoof contemporary choreography.

Then, a whistle-stop montage of childhood moments through to career highlights revealed more of the human behind the persona – a nice touch.

This narrative was short-lived, however, as Francis quickly got down to business, reviving many of his famous characters - and lots of new ones. How did he do this? A great deal of “rubber mask tomfoolery”, in the style of Spitting Image, of course. 

Despite being absolutely bonkers, and at times extremely below the belt, Francis’ no-holds-barred script was packed with funny moments.

No A or C lister was safe: Ant & Dec had an awful lot of air time, as did James Corden, Amanda Holden, David Dickinson (a highlight) and even the most recent cast of Gogglebox. 

Each filthy send-up (I wonder how many celebs gave Francis permission to tear them apart) was cleverly bookended; TV show opening credits (mostly ITV formats) helped to very loosely tie disparate set-pieces together. 

The second half began as a total contrast, as if the audience had been transported to a recording of an episode of Celebrity Juice.

After two willing attendees completed in some ridiculous game show-like rounds, further audience anticipation came from an unorthodox ‘Joe Wicks’ fitness class.

Throughout the show, however, there was an overwhelming air of chaos (although cohesiveness has never been a priority for BAFTA-awrad-winner Francis).

Rather than having a support act, musical impressionist Jess Robinson’s star turn came near the close as she rattled through iconic female singers across the decades.

Her vocal range was incredibly impressive, as were her uncanny takes on Bjork, Kate Bush and Ariana Grande. In fact, some of these almost stole the show...

Back to Francis and, at times, the toilet humour veered on vulgarity; watching him sing with an animated poo would not be missed if it were cut, and there are plenty of other examples but I won’t spoil such treats.

Leigh Francis’ style of comedy certainly isn’t for everyone – and, after several decades in the industry, he definitely knows that.

But, for Thursday's cohort - some who shelled out £88 for a meet and greet - that certainly wasn't the case. Instead, they happily strapped in for a very naughty throwback to a far less-PC time.