IT’S late in the evening when Richard O’Brien picks up the phone in New Zealand, but despite the hour the zany writer-cum-presenter is still chipper.

“We’re hanging on,” he says, “the autumn is leaving us and the spring has kicked in here. You’re going the other way round.” Now 71 and settled in the southern hemisphere, O’Brien is happy to chat about the fact that he’s been married almost six months.

“I’m married to the most beautiful person on the planet and she’s put up with me something terrible, which is pretty good, isn’t it?

“We were wondering what you give to each other for six months married. There’s all the things you’re supposed to give, paper for one year, wood for five, it’s very strange some of the stuff.

“So we don’t know what to give each other. I thought grit might be good. I can go out and find a nice piece of grit, make a ring out of it. It’s got that ‘true grit’ feel to it.” Small talk over, we get down to the nitty gritty. O’Brien’s masterpiece, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, will hit Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre in less than a week. How did he come up with the concept for a performance that has been a hit for more than 40 years?

“I used to like watching those dreadful, creepy kind of sci-fi movies,” he murmurs. “The unintentional humour was always very gratifying, people being serious about something you really shouldn’t be serious about.

“The way you dress or the lines you’re intoning, all that kind of stuff I found rather wonderful. It’s just a fairytale, a rock and roll fairytale.” You’d imagine that after 40 years he’d have grown tired of talking about the show, but he insists that is one task that will never grow old for him.

“It’s good to talk about something with enthusiasm when you really, truly mean it.

“Sometimes I have been asked to discuss issues that I’m less than OK with. You want to put on a brave face and smile but with this production I don’t have to do that.” As much as O’Brien hasn’t tired of his masterpiece neither have the countless, fishnet-wearing theatre-goers who still pack out performances four decades on. What’s the secret to it’s lasting appeal?

“I just think it’s one of those adventures that appeals to the eternal child in each and every one of us,” he says. “It’s really about the simple rites of passage that we all understand. Going through puberty, that dreadful moment in time for everyone.

“I think that’s kind of right, I do think Brad and Janet represent that kind of American dream of the 1950s but they step out of that into a more decadent lost kind of 70s.

“It could be a declaration of the the death of the American dream. When they leave the house at the end they’re entering a very uncertain world.

“I despair of the world around us at the moment, it’s most distressing. Maybe Rocky is part of that.” When it comes to maintaining the popularity of the show, it seems that the old ones are the best as far as Rocky and O’Brien are concerned.

“It did change and people were putting jokes in on jokes and it didn’t really do.

“About five years ago we cut it right back to the bare bones again, to how it was at the beginning.

“It works because it is a spare structure. If we’re going to do anything of lasting quality, less is more.” Some fans perhaps wouldn’t take that view, given the tradition for dressing up and joining in that the show has accrued through the years. But O’Brien is wary of the penchant for participation that has been adopted.

“I like it, as long as the rest of the audience don’t think that they’re at a party that they haven’t been invited to.

“If they ever get where there’s a small minority interacting to the detriment of the rest of the majority then that does disturb me.

“I don’t want anyone to feel excluded or out of it.” Not just known as the pen behind Rocky, O’Brien is also revered for his iconic role presenting 90’s game show the Crystal Maze, but it seems he almost took the reins in a rival series before jumping ship.

“I was supposed to be doing the keys to Fort Boyard, but I ran off after the first day.

“I didn’t see anything in it for me, I was so p***ed off.

“When you compare them you see the resemblance between the two shows. Ours was a spin off but I think it was better.

“Maybe that’s me being selfish, but for me, you can’t finish the show with wild beast penned up in a cage and pretend that you’re ever, ever going to put a contestant through there. It’s not going to happen so what’s the point.” Which of the characters from Rocky does he think would have done best in the Crystal Maze? Anyone hoping for a definitive answer will be sorely disappointed, “That’s an interesting question. I might think about it at some length.

“It’s the kind of late night question you think about after you’ve had a few drinks, isn’t it?” The future looks relaxed for O’Brien, there’s a Halloween fundraiser coming up that he’s attending in Christchurch and some hedge strimming (“I’m good with a strimmer”) but that’s about it.

“I don’t busy myself too much,” he says. “I’m not ambitious, I’m quite happy chilling out as they used to say. I am 71 you know.” Rocky Horror is at the Alhambra from next Monday (21st October)