HE is one half of the most famous double act to ever gather round the old Joanna.

He has also worked with some of the biggest names in music from Joe Meek to Pete Doherty. Now, as Chas Hodges and long-time collaborator Dave Peacock bring their own brand of knees up to Harrow, he talks exclusively to TOM PARNELL and tells him why the tour will never end for Chas & Dave

YOU'RE just saying the word 'rabbit' at me, it's not helping." I am on the train with my 25-year-old flatmate on our way to watch legendary cockney performers Chas & Dave perform at Harrow Arts Centre, and I'm doing a bad job of explaining the duo's most popular hit.

The sad fact is that, for many years among children of the 80s and 90s, Chas & Dave have been thought of as a cartoonish novelty act - if they knew of them at all.

But behind songs like Snooker Loopy and Gertcha! are two accomplished musicians who drew on the influences of records from their teenage years and their experience on the music circuit to create a unique sound unlike any of their contemporaries.

And now the pair's consummate musicianship is finding a fresh audience thanks to being championed by bad-boy of rock and former Libertines frontman Pete Doherty.

A couple of days before the gig, I get the chance to have a chat with Chas, the curly-haired piano player who speaks in what can only be described as a laid-back cockney drawl.

He says: "The older we get the younger our audience seems to be getting.

"Pete [Doherty] booked us to support the Libertines and he supported us a couple of years ago. It's a good association and we have gained a lot of Libertines fans.

"We're doing another gig with him in a month."

With a sinking heart, I tell Chas that Doherty has just been locked up for breaking parole on drugs charges, but the genial grandfather has nothing but kind words.

He says: "Pete really does mean well, it's a shame.

"He comes down to see us and he's always so straight and bright - eyed and he says he's really behaving himself. Then he goes away and you hear all this stuff in the papers."

At 64, Chas may be able to ride the bus for free but there is no sign of him or Dave hanging up their gigging hats any time soon.

He says: "When people ask when I'm going to retire, it puts the fear of God into me.

"I've been touring since I was 16 and in a skiffle group. It doesn't seem like work at all.

"We spread our tours out now - we used to get an album out and do two or three months on the road.

"We have been doing the set we do now for a couple of years because it lets us change what we play all the time."

The duo open by both playing acoustic guitars (accompanied by faithful drummer Mick Burt), seamlessly running through whatever songs seem to pop into their heads.

Chas says: "We just play songs from when we first met each other and we get the audience to ask us questions.

"So, for example, if someone asks what the first song we wrote together was, we'll play that. It's all very informal.

"Then we have a break and we come back and I get on the piano and we do all the hits."

And the hits come fast and furious, from Ain't No Pleasing You and The Sideboard Song to Rabbit, with Chas thumping away on the keyboard and Dave seemingly effortlessly strumming the base.

It is no surprise when the audience are moved to dancing in the aisles.

Chas says: "Harrow is a great audience and a great gig - it always has been."

Chas is busy recording his own solo LP after Dave gave up writing about three years ago, and he will soon be portrayed on the big screen by Ralph Little, in a film of legendary producer Joe Meek's life.

He says: "Ralph said he had got to get the accent right, so we met up in town and had some pie and mash together and we became good friends.

"My wife's playing Joe Meek's mum and I've got a cameo part as a complaining neighbour."

Chas sounds every bit the contented man, proudly announcing the birth of his first grandson to the concert audience, and with a new generation of fans rapidly growing there is no reason for the show to stop.

As we head back from the gig, my grinning flatmate is clearly a new recruit to the Chas & Dave fanbase, as he turns to me and says: "Do you want to try and do that rabbit bit again?"