THERE can’t be that many stand-ups who worry about getting tangled up in 19th-century Church of Scotland policy beefs when writing their Edinburgh shows – but Kieran Hodgson isn’t your bog-standard comedian.

Best-known to television viewers for playing Gordon in BBC Scotland sitcom Two Doors Down and the titular character in Channel 4’s Prince Andrew The Musical; to digital natives for his acutely observed online spoofs of Happy Valley, The Crown and Ted Lasso, and to those in the live comedy world for being one of the brightest practitioners in the business, Hodgson is a man who puts everything into researching his shows.

That approach was writ large in his 2018 hour, ‘75, which earned him his third Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination and used entertaining poetic licence and brilliant impressions of key 1970s politicians to explain how Britain became part of Europe in the first place.

His latest offering, Big In Scotland, is broadly about being an Englishman who has settled north of the Border and, true to form, Hodgson is putting it together with cerebral vigour.

“I had very grand ambitions when I started writing this show that I was somehow going to dissect all of Scotland and all of Scottish identity and history, politics and culture, but of course that’s far too big a remit for a 55-minute comedy show. So what I think I’ve ended up doing is just digging into my own English conceptions of Scotland, wrong or right as they are,” he says.

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Since moving to Glasgow three years ago (and having worked here for longer), Yorkshire-born Hodgson has found the same question being asked of him by several of his London-based friends.

“I think that for some English people, there’s this idea that independence is all anyone ever talks about here, that it’s the sole preoccupation of Scottish people,” he says.

It’s a subject he’ll address playfully in the show by taking on “a benign Unionist persona” and a “benign indy persona”, as he puts them; “latching onto ideas I find attractive”. But he’s acutely aware that he’s in no position to stride on stage with his middle-class English accent and present himself as an expert on the subject.

What we’re seeing here is more of his journey to understanding his new home, sociologically, politically, historically and geographically. As he shows his workings, we get to enjoy a typically academic conundrum: the more he learns about it the more he feels he needs to know.

His reading list has been extensive, with writers who have been particularly useful including Tom Devine, Tom Nairn, Murray Pittock and Rosemary Goring.

“There was this instinct to try digest it all and arrive at some grand synthesis but it’s too much and you sort of get bogged down in the Great Disruption of 1843 [the aforementioned Church of Scotland rift, which led to the formation of the Free Church of Scotland], which I don’t think audiences want to hear,” he smiles.

“My last show was very much about the reading list, and in it, I had the books on the stage on a bookshelf,” he recalls. “But I wanted to get away from that and make it a bit less academic feeling, and a bit more personal while hopefully resting on a bed of ‘I just about know what I’m talking about.’”

It’s natural, though, to wonder about Hodgson’s own opinions on independence. As an English person living in London during the 2014 referendum, he wasn’t convinced it was a good idea, but that feeling has been replaced by what he describes as “a more knowledgeable ignorance – if that’s not a horrible phrase”.

“It’s been fascinating to me learning the degree and extent to which it has been analysed and questioned in a very mature and detailed fashion by Scots, Scottish politicians and academics on both sides for a very long time,” he says.

“It frustrates me that there’s this very lazy ‘don’t ask don’t’ tell defence of the Union from certain politicians. There’s this cod phrase of ‘we’re all a family’, as if that would magically dispel any of the properly knotty constitutional, sociological, geographical differences between the nations that lead to the question of independence arising.

“I find that sort of dismissal – the idea that we should paper over it and ignore it forever – very insulting to the question and to the people who have asked it with a lot more seriousness.”

On a lighter note, Hodgson’s research has also covered pop culture and the world of Munro-bagging on YouTube (he’s a big fan of the outdoors, and has developed a deep affection for Largs and the Slate Islands), and there’s bound to be a lot of silliness on stage too.

“I certainly don’t want to do a show all about Irn-Bru, haggis and shortbread,” he says. “It’s required of an English perspective to try to take things as seriously as they are taken here, to offer some sort of digestion of them. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m certainly not attempting to convince anyone of anything because I can barely convince myself.”

Kieran Hodgson: Big in Scotland, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 4-27 Aug (previews 2-3 Aug, two-for-one 7-8 Aug),