THE CONVERSATION with Greg McHugh is the second oddest interview ever carried out in 30-odd years of actor chatting.

The Gary: Tank Commander star has been lined up to talk about his upcoming BBC Scotland documentary Gary Goes To Hollywood.

But he wants to remain in character.

Are you serious, Greg? Does this mean we can’t mention you at all?

What if we want to update some personal info, see where you are in terms of career advancement?

And while sending Gary to Hollywood is a neat idea, can we both pretend that an effete tank commander from Edinburgh would have been sent to Tinseltown at license payers’ expense?

What the heck, you say to the actor. I was once faced with the choice of an interview between Dean Park and a Shetland pony in the build up to their Pavilion panto appearance - and chose the pony. It was the right choice. The pony stayed in character, and offered great character insight and colour.

So let’s go, Greg. I mean Gary.

“A’m Gary, all day today, ken,” says Gary in heavily-accented Gary voice, grinning, just in case his Garyness were in doubt. “And I’m delighted you got a result wi’ the pony.”

And to underline his commitment to the idea of remaining in character, Scotland’s favourite comedy tank commander musters up as tough a commanding voice as his character could ever conceive; “A’m Gary, so jist dae your job. Ken!”

Right, Gary. How did the idea for this documentary come about, where Gary travels to Tinseltown to meet a range of Scots performers? “Well, basically, the BBC are rubbish at their journalism and they said to me, ‘Gary, your last election special was amazun. Why don’t you come back here and and investigate another pressin’ issue, which is why there are so many traitorous Scots going tae America the minute they get a whiff eh success.’”

The tank commander rolls on. “This show, well, it’s basically Louis Theroux versus Ross Kemp versus Beverly Hills Cop, which I’m sure you agree is a brilliunt idea.

“Obviously people have been going to America ever since they were chucked off the land by sheep back in the day, but I wanted to ask why they wanted to go there now.”

In the show, Gary meets up with the likes of former Dr Who? Star Karen Gillan and radio and TV celebrity Ross King. Could he not have landed James McAvoy? Or Gerard Butler?

“Basically, Gerry Butler kept hounding me ‘Gonnae interview me, Gary’ but I got sick of him. And to be quite honest, his films are shocking and they stink at the box office.”

He maintains the deadpan voice which featured in three series’ of his cult TV sitcom from 2009. “Ross King is a far better interview anyway. And you get to see a dark side of him during filming.”

What? Has Ross The King In LA stayed in the sun too long?

“No, you widnae ken this before, but you’ll see him have a bit of a breakdown.” He whispers for effect; “In f act, I think he fell out with me because of a wee bit of jealousy.”

The perfectly groomed army commander who was successful brought back to Tank life at the SEC Hydro two years ago added; “That Karen Gillan, she’s a bit radge (wild) as well. She does a couple of non PC accents during the talk, but you’ll need to watch the show to find out which.

“Then we meet a mad yoga radge from Inverness who takes me to a cave in the Hollywood hills and something really weird happens to me.”

What? In a Weinstein sense? Or like Aladdin in panto? “Listen mate, panto’s a complete nightmare,” he sidetracks, referencing the fact his alter ego has had two stints in the panto trenches in Glasgow. “I’d rather be back on the front line than daein’ panto again. Ken.”

Back on theme he adds; “But we also go to Hollywood Boulevard to meet the stars.”

His chest swells a little. “We got the inside story. And this show’s a lot to do with me, and what Hollywood does to me. You think it’s amazing at first but then you realise it’s fully folk that are really radge.”

What did Hollywood think of Gary? “Hollywood loved me,” he says as sure as Gary has blond highlights.

Yes, but Hollywood has now become used to the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen’s comic creations such as Borat and Ali G. Did the town ever consider Gary might not be real?

“Dinnae play your mind games wi’ me,” he says in camp, but defiant voice. “Gary IS real. Gary is everything. And America accepted Gary for who he is.”

What of this Morningside-born chancer Greg McHugh who’s been said to have an influence on Gary’s career? A Tweet revealed he was running again after breaking his ankle (after falling down at a party) last year.

“A’ dinnae follow that Greg McHugh character, because he’s really boring. In fact, I’m fed up reading about his small parts in big dramas. “ He sighs; “Honestly, you put him in an episode of something and he tweets like he’s the star.” With perfect timing he adds; “The guy makes me sick.”

McHugh lives in the seaside town of Hove in East Sussex with wife Katie and their two young children, apparently. But don’t you owe him a little bit of gratitude? “He’s got a small part in Traitors for Channel Four. And I’ve got my documentary. Who’s on top?”

Is there any chance we’ll see a return of Greg McHugh’s Channel Four hit Fresh Meat? “No, because Joe Thomas is in Inbetweeners, and the guys who made the show are in Hollywood, and so is Jack Whitehall.”

So what’s Gary doing? “I’m going back to the army, and keeping the country safe,” he says in superhero mode. “Between making documentaries and being in the army I’ve got an amazing life.”

That’s good to know, Gary. But I think the pony interview was better. “You and me are gonnae fallout,” says the campest desert war hero ever since 1921, when a heavily mascarad Rudolph Valentino played The Sheik, trying very hard not to laugh.

Gary Goes To Hollywood, BBC1 Scotland, Hogmanay, 10pm.