James Cameron Davidson OBE (born 13 December 1953) is an English stand-up comedian who hosted the television shows Big Break and The Generation Game. He also develops adult pantomime shows such as Boobs in the Wood and Sinderella.
Davidson (left) with journalist Garry Bushell in February 2014
|Birth name||James Cameron Davidson|
|Born||13 December 1953|
Kidbrooke, London, England
|Medium||Stand-up, television, film|
|Genres||Black comedy, blue comedy, insult comedy|
(m. 1971; div. 1972)
(m. 1981; div. 1986)
(m. 1987; div. 1988)
(m. 1990; div. 2000)
Michelle Cotton (m. 2009)
Davidson frequently makes jokes about women, ethnic minorities, gay people and disabled people, although he denies accusations that he is prejudiced against these groups.
The son of a Scottish father from Glasgow and Irish mother from Cork, Davidson was born in Kidbrooke, London, and attended Kidbrooke Park Primary School, Blackheath, and St Austin's School in Charlton. Having impressed some acquaintances of his father with impressions of celebrities, he was chosen to appear in Ralph Reader's Gang Show at the Golders Green Hippodrome aged 12 and appeared on television in the Billy Cotton Band Show. He also briefly attended a stage school in Woolwich.
Upon leaving school he was a drummer for pub bands and worked as a supermarket shelf stacker, a messenger, air ticket clerk for a travel agency, a cashier for Wall's ice cream, for Rank Xerox (having trained as a reprographics operator) and as a window cleaner.
Davidson found his way into show business when as a regular in a pub in Woolwich, he undertook an act after the regular comedian had not turned up. He then became a regular on the London comedy circuit, and first auditioned for Opportunity Knocks in 1975, unsuccessfully; he was told by Hughie Green to "go away". His audition for New Faces was more successful, and he proceeded to win the show by one point, and then to come second in the overall contest.
His success was quickly followed by many more appearances on television, including What's On Next and several series of his own show The Jim Davidson Show (1979–1982) which ran for five complete series and won Davidson the TV Times award as "Funniest Man On Television".
Davidson appeared on an edition of the BBC1 series Seaside Special, shown on 20 August 1977, hosted by Tony Blackburn and David Hamilton. The Stage's reviewer, Martyn Wade, was not impressed: "comedian Jim Davidson had already won first prize for lack of taste with crude racist jokes tracing the adventures of a black man whose nickname was Chalky and whose other names included Toilet-Roll. "Day-light come and I gotta sign on" is a representative line from Mr Davidson's act." 
He starred in TV sitcoms Up the Elephant and Round the Castle (1983–1985) and Home James! (1987–1990). His one man show for Thames Television, Stand Up Jim Davidson (1990), was recorded at London's Royalty Theatre.
Davidson became known for Big Break (1991–2002) and as the third host of The Generation Game (1995–2002), as the successor to Bruce Forsyth and Larry Grayson. In September 2007, Davidson appeared in the third series of Hell's Kitchen (2007) in the UK, and in May 2008 he appeared in the BBC's Comedy Map of Britain.
On 2 January 2013, Davidson was set to become a housemate in the eleventh series of Celebrity Big Brother, but was arrested at Heathrow Airport by police officers working on Operation Yewtree. On 3 January 2014, a year after being arrested and without being charged, he became a housemate in the show's thirteenth series. On 29 January 2014, he left the Big Brother house as the winner.
Davidson's touring is developed from his original London comedy circuit show, for pub and club audiences. Aimed at a very different audience from that of his television work, it contains a lot more strong language, which he promotes as adult entertainment. This has also developed into his adult pantomime work, including productions with titles such as: Boobs in the Wood and SINderella.
In 2006, for the first time in 14 years, he refused to play Great Yarmouth, stating that the resort was "full of overweight people in flip-flops and fat children of all colours and no class". The inhabitants of the town took this as a personal affront, although said he was referring to tourists.
UK chart singleEdit
Davidson has several business interests. He set up a company which bought or leased several seaside theatres or piers, including the Winter Gardens building in Great Yarmouth, which was converted into a nightclub. He lost £700,000 on a pantomime production of Dick Whittington and after a meeting with the Inland Revenue in 2003, he sold the company.
Forces and charityEdit
Davidson has entertained British armed forces. He is currently chairman of the British Forces Foundation charity, which aims to promote the well-being and esprit de corps of service personnel. Davidson was awarded the OBE in the New Year's Honours List 2001 for his services to charity.
Davidson is a Freemason and a long-standing member of the Westminster City Council Lodge No 2882. He was formerly also a member of the Chelsea Lodge No 3098 (whose members are all entertainers) but has resigned; he was the founding Worshipful Master of British Forces Foundation Lodge No 9725 on its formation in 2000.
Taxation and bankruptcyEdit
On 27 August 2003, after a meeting with the Inland Revenue, Davidson claimed he spent £10,000 a week on back taxes, commission to agents, maintenance and school fees, and a £2.2 million mortgage: "My problem is money – I used to earn five times as much as I do now, but I still pay the same maintenance, school fees and commission to agents," he told Radio Times magazine.
Davidson has made jokes about women, ethnic minorities, gay people and disabled people in his stand-up act, which has made him a subject of frequent criticism. The Shropshire Star however wrote that tabloid reports of his divorce payouts, court orders for cancelled shows and uncompromising tax bills made him out to be a "loveable rogue".
In 2002, Davidson was escorted from the grounds of the Marriott Bristol Royal Hotel, after it was alleged that he had become confrontational and abusive to staff.
In October 2003, Davidson refused to go on stage in Plymouth because he objected to wheelchair users in the front row. A spokesman for the Plymouth Pavilions, where he was performing as part of a national tour, said: "Jim Davidson apparently took exception to a number of wheelchair users in the front stalls of the Pavilions Arena. Mr Davidson cited the fact that a proportion of his act was aimed at disabled customers and that he would be unable to perform under these circumstances." In a statement Davidson explained he "took the mick" out of everyone in the front row of his shows. "As all the people in the front row were in wheelchairs I feared it would appear I was specifically targeting disabled people. I asked if just some would mind moving. Much of my act depends upon audience reaction and in fact one part of the show involves getting the audience to gang up against the front row."
Laurence Clark, himself a wheelchair user, in response performed a show called 'The Jim Davidson Guide to Equality' at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2004. Clark refused to perform the show if Jim Davidson was in his audience.Martin Fletcher describes Davidson as "extraordinarily foul-mouthed, racist, and sexist" and a "throwback"; whilst quoting Garry Bushell describing Davidson as a "family entertainer".
Davidson has responded to accusations of prejudice by saying: "It is a difficult thing, comedy, and I'm on a loser. If I cured Aids and fed Africa and ended Ebola and found that missing aeroplane I'd still be that horrible racist, sexist, homophobic comedian. By people, with respect, who haven't seen me. Or are judging me from the past."
In 2004, comedian Jimmy Carr threatened legal action against Davidson, accusing him of having plagiarised some of his comic material. Davidson responded by saying the claims were 'ridiculous', and no further action was taken.
In October 2006, he was again accused of making insensitive jokes about cancer sufferers, blind people, a woman in a wheelchair, and the recent trial over the murder of Damilola Taylor, prompting a woman to walk out of the show in disgust. Davidson vehemently denied the charge, claiming that jokes about blind people and cancer sufferers would have merited a "mass walkout". He also said the comments about the Damilola Taylor trial were taken out of context: "My actual remark was that I thought the killers should be locked away forever. And if she objects to that then that is her prerogative. Davidson was also quoted as saying "If what I was saying was true I would have got up and left myself".
In 2007, Davidson was called on as a character witness to drug trafficker Brian Brendan Wright. Despite Davidson's testifying to Wright's character, the judge concluded that Wright was "a master criminal, manipulative, influential and powerful," and sentenced him to 30 years in prison.
In September 2007, Davidson participated on the celebrity reality TV programme Hell's Kitchen. During his time on the show, Davidson attracted negative media attention over what was identified as homophobic bullying towards TV presenter and openly gay contestant Brian Dowling. Davidson asked Dowling, "Are you on our side?" when referring to whether or not he would be participating for the boys' or girls' team. Davidson used the word "shirt-lifters" in front of him, and was constantly asking if Dowling would like to try on one of "John Virgo's lovely waistcoats", which Davidson owns. Davidson later described himself as a "homophobic arsehole". The programme was broadcast on ITV on 4 September 2007. On 10 September, Davidson was asked to leave Hell's Kitchen following further problems with Dowling. After Davidson's exit from the programme, the BBC reported that the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom had received 46 complaints alleging that Davidson had bullied Dowling. Ofcom concluded that nothing unacceptable had happened. ITV, the channel which had originally broadcast the programme, issued a statement, regretting Davidson's "unacceptable remarks".
In December 2007, Davidson again courted controversy when he made a joke about rape victims during a show at the Newark Palace Theatre, in Nottinghamshire. A local paper, the Nottingham Evening Post, stated that: "there were moments when he did stray too far over the line (most notably with a routine on rape)."
On 2 January 2013, as Davidson was set to become a housemate in the eleventh series of Celebrity Big Brother, he was arrested at Heathrow Airport by police officers working on Operation Yewtree. On 20 March, he was arrested again over new allegations of sexual offences. On 21 August, however, it was announced that no further action would be taken in relation to the allegations of historic sex abuse, due to insufficient evidence.
On 21 November 2018, Davidson was caught up in London traffic resulting from Extinction Rebellion protests which blocked a number of London bridges to raise awareness of the lack of action from governments over climate change. Davidson was photographed by the BBC , allegedly shouted at police and was filmed near the front of a blockade driving a large SUV, where he inexplicably remarked that Jeremy Corbyn (who was not involved) was an "environmental disaster". Davidson later told Nigel Farage, on LBC radio that the reason for his anger had been that the demonstrations had almost prevented him "from getting his pie and mash".
Davidson's numerous marriages spurred John Mills to send a Telemessage on the occasion of his fourth, which read simply: "Will It Last?" The marriage ended ten years later. Davidson subsequently returned the compliment to Mills and his wife on their sixtieth wedding anniversary, with a Telemessage bearing the same wording.
In March 2004, Davidson, an Conservative supporter, publicly left the United Kingdom for the tax-free haven of Dubai, UAE in protest at the Labour government, although it was also noted by HMRC at the time that his move coincided with an unpaid tax bill of approximately £700,000. At the time, he declared that "I may as well go to Dubai and be an ethnic minority there than wait five years till I become one here." He moved back to the UK after living in Dubai for five years. He has also expressed sympathy for UKIP leader Nigel Farage, describing the party as "the Jim Davidson of the political world". He once again moved back to Dubai after being accused of sexual offences.
On 18 June 2014, Davidson attended the assault trial of former N-Dubz frontman Dappy. "Dappy is a good friend of mine. I don't know what's happened in this case but I'm just here to show him my support," Davidson said. Dappy's legal team declined Davidson's offer to serve as a character witness for the singer.
Davidson has been married five times. His first four marriages ended in divorce, and he has five children by three wives:
- Big Break
- Home James
- New Faces
- Stand Up Jim Davidson
- This Is Your Life
- The Generation Game
- The Jim Davidson Show
- Up the Elephant and Round the Castle
- Life's a Pitch
- What's on Next?
- Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
- Hell's Kitchen
- Celebrity Big Brother
- Davidson made his first feature film appearance in the Peter Greenaway directed A Zed & Two Noughts (1985).
- Colour Me Kubrick (2006) With John Malkovich.
- "Watching Over You"
- "A Time for Remembering"
- "Love, Please Stop Leaving Me"
In 2011, Davidson toured with a play, Stand Up...And Be Counted. The play was about the failing career of a washed-up racist comic. This caused controversy and links made in the media with similarities between the main character and Davidson's own career. On 18 March 2011, Davidson announced the show was being cancelled because of poor ticket sales. It had visited only four of the 12 planned city destinations. Davidson added that he was still in talks to bring the show to the West End at a later date.
Davidson has also produced and starred in a number of so called "Adult pantomimes" being blue humoured (and often controversial)versions of the conventional Panto, in the UK the DVD and video versions are certificate 18.
"Sinderella" 1995 (also sold on Video) "Boobs in the Wood" 1999 (also on video/DVD) "Sinderella Comes Again" 2004 (DVD) "Sinderella 2: Scottish Romp" 2015, production cut short due to poor sales
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- "REVIEW: JIM DAVIDSON, NEWARK PALACE THEATRE". Nottingham Post. December 2007.[dead link]
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- @BBCTomEdwards (21 November 2018). "Jim Davidson was stuck at the front - got out of his car shouted at the Police "Why aren't you moving them?" - when a protestor tried to talk to him he said he didn't talk to lefties. One gag: "Climate change ? Don't they like being warmer!!"" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "'Environmental DISASTER in a duffle coat!' Jim Davidson RAGES at Jeremy Corbyn - WATCH". Daily Express. 22 November 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
- "Comedian Jim Davidson had Nigel Farage in stitches as he revealed he almost lost out on pie and mash because of climate change protesters in London". LBC. 21 November 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
- Jim Davidson (6 October 1994). The Full Monty. Time Warner Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-7515-0737-9.
- missingauthor. "missingtitle". missingpublisher.
- "Sir John Mills renews wedding vows". BBC News. 16 January 2001.
- "Jim's not laughing any more". The Times. London. 23 May 2004.
- Celebrity Big Brother 13, 24 January 2014
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- "Yahoo UK & Ireland - Sports News | Live Scores | Results". uk.sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
- "Peterborough United v Bournemouth". Getty Images. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- Eagle Annual 1985. IPC Comics. August 1984. p. 60.
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