Hanging around in gangs, carrying knives, believing fear breeds respect, and hero worshipping 50 Cent, was an unpromising start for the young Darren Harriott.

The tough boy image appealed to the 13-year-old, who believed that was the way to win respect, until one New Year's Eve. His own gang turned on him and beat him up so badly he spent the count down to midnight lying in hospital, listening to the bells chime. From that moment on his perception of the world changed.

"We were teenage boys at school with no money and no dreams. We liked the idea of being like 50 Cent. He said he had been shot nine times and we thought that was great. We liked the way he was in videos, and we were into hip-hop lifestyle, grunge and garage music. I can't remember what I said to get beaten up, but we all had fragile egos. I remember I was 15, and when I recovered from my injuries the last few months at school were very awkward. Everybody knew what had happened. The rest of the gang were in the same school so we stayed away from each other,'' said Darren.

Today the comedian is using his experiences to write a new show called Visceral that with all the knife crime still around is sadly topical. It also looks back at other aspects of his childhood. He will be touring with the show in the autumn and stopping off in Swindon's Arts Centre, Devizes Road, Old Town on Tuesday, March 5 at 8pm. It is the postponed gig from last year.

Darren says that while he was the funny one in his gang, it wasn't until he went to college that he really discovered his talent for comedy.

"I didn't like college, I dropped out twice from my B-Tech Performing Arts course and A-Levels. I started doing talent shows for a year and then open mics and it was up and down for five or six years before I found my way,'' he said.

He moved to London in 2014 but it was the Edinburgh Fringe that really helped Darren with his comedy. In the same year he appeared on a lunchtime showcase in the Edinburgh festival, and then in 2017 he wrote and performed the first of his own shows. He was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Fringe.

"That was an amazing time, I had no expectations and was still working as a security guard at night. I would wear a hoody up on stage to hide my uniform because I had to shoot off to work straight from doing my set,'' he said.

The comedian was invited to appear on Mock The Week which he said was tough and a long day, but he loved every minute of it.

"They were very understanding and Dara Ó Briain let everybody have a go. It makes sense as they want a great show,'' he said.

Other TV such as Russell Howard's Stand-up Central and Live At The Apollo welcomed the newcomer as guest.

"Russell Howard is such a down to earth guy, just normal and laid back. I was invited back with guests Jimmy Carr and Jonathon Ross.''

Along with touring his stand-up show, Darren has been writing comedy for television and has a couple of pilots he is hoping will be taken up. Tickets to see Darren at £12.50 are available from 01793 524481 or visit www.swindontheatres.co.uk - Flicky Harrison