We know and love her for her Radio 4-friendly chuckles and charm.

But broadcaster Sandi Toksvig has surprised many by going to the dark side with her latest play: Bully Boy.

Landing at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate this week, the play hones in on the thorny topic of post-war trauma.

But as for the shellshock of several critics confronted with her departure from comedy — how does she handle that? In her usual matter-of-fact way, of course.

“Even when you write jokes, you have a serious intent about what you are writing, so tackling a serious subject doesn’t seem at all odd to me,” says Sandi. “I still believe the theatre is where we go to listen to ideas. I have been passionate about theatre all my life and love it.”

The plot follows Falklands War veteran Major Oscar Hadley, who is sent to a combat zone to probe allegations of severe misconduct by Eddie Clark, a young squaddie from Burnley and part of a self-styled ‘Bully Boy’ unit of the British army. As the interrogation develops, the two men bond as they try to come to terms with the horrors they have both experienced at war.

Of course Sandi Toksvig is no stranger to controversy – in 2003 she stood as a candidate in the election for the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, supporting a campaign against student fees. And so it is refreshing to hear she relishes the opportunity to pour scorn on politicians such as Thatcher and Blair in Bully Boy.

Actor Anthony Andrews, best known from defining Oxford-based Brideshead Revisited, heads the cast in this Made In Northampton co-production. Anthony, who gained national recognition for his role as the charming but fatally flawed Sebastian Flyte, plays the Major, with the role of Eddie taken by Joshua Miles.

David Gilmore and Patrick Sandford direct and after its run in Northampton, the play will transfer to the St James Theatre in London, launching its inaugural season. The heartfelt play will be led by internationally acclaimed director David Gilmore, whohas directed more than a dozen West End productions, including Beyond Reasonable Doubt and The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui.

Bully Boy can be seen in Northampton from Friday (August 24) to Saturday, September 15. Tickets priced from £28 to £13 can be booked now by calling the box office on 01604 624811.