Jim Davidson is a comedian who hasn’t shied away from controversy.
But, the comedian, talking ahead of his appearance at the Lighthouse Theatre in Kettering protests that he is never deliberately provocative.
“I don’t seek controversy,” Jim contends.
“I’m the type of comedian who doesn’t want to alienate anyone in the audience, and that’s how I go through life. The only people my show might upset are those who already have an agenda.
“Also, any comedian will tell you that if stuff is written down, it looks twice as bad as when you say it out loud.
“Jokes written down in black and white always seem worse than ones that come straight from your mouth.”
Having said all that, Jim will never be a comic who shies away from controversy.
“I won’t be put off,” he asserts. “If what I say causes controversy, I’ll say it anyway. I’m not frightened.”
“Also, if I wanted controversy, that would be very simple. You only have to open your mouth these days and the PC brigade leap on you. But I believe people are fed up with political correctness now. We’re rebelling against it.”
So you have been warned. You can expect more of this coruscating, no-holds-barred stuff from Jim when he returns to stand-up comedy this autumn. It will not be for the faint-hearted.
He will be touring the country with a terrific new show entitled “Charlton Nil.” It will focus on his time growing up in South East London and promises to be Jim’s most outrageous, irreverent and honest show to date.
After last year’s successful stand-up show about his turbulent 2013, “No Further Action”, Jim is very excited about touring the country once more.
“I can’t wait to get back out on the road and perform again,” he says.
“People know what to expect when they come to see me, and I can’t wait to start performing my new material and seeing the audience reaction. It’s going to be the best one yet!”
Jim, who dominated primetime TV for over a decade as the presenter of massive hit shows such as Big Break and The Generation Game, has built up a loyal following over the years.
He is pleased about the prospect of spending time with those fans on the “Charlton Nil” tour.
“I love meeting the audience before and after the show,” declares Jim, whose sell-out theatre tours and pantomimes have broken box-office records and received critical acclaim.
“It reminds me of being a four-year-old in South East London with my Tommy Steele guitar, playing tunes to people as they walked past.
“I just want to make them happy. When you get audiences standing up and cheering you, what better job can you have? That’s a hell of a buzz. It gives you total acceptance. They laugh, and you think, ‘These people really like me and that’s great!’”
Never more than a minute away from the next joke, Jim adds with a laugh: “Unfortunately, then there’s the bit at the end where you walk out of the stage door, and there’s nothing to do. That’s when the trouble starts!
“You go home to a wife who doesn’t share that life at all. She says, ‘Do you have to make all that noise when you come in?’ ‘I’ve just had 2,000 people cheering me to the rafters’. ‘Well, I’m not one of them. Don’t wake me up and don’t put the light on. In fact, go and sleep in the spare room’. ‘But it’s two in the morning, and I’ve just driven back from Newcastle’. ‘I don’t care – I’ve been doing the ironing’.”
Jim goes on to pose a very pertinent question: “How can you imagine that other people’s lives are just as important to them as mine is to me?
“I’ve only just started to realise that now – ish – and I’m 61 and a half!”
So what can we expect from “Charlton Nil”? He reveals that he will be majoring on the subject of his football team.
“I grew up supporting Charlton Athletic. They’re what people call ‘a family team,’ which means they’re no good!
“But I love them. I go to all the away matches. During the close season, I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m a Charlton supporter because it reminds me of where I’m from. I remember climbing over the wall at Charlton, and a policeman caught me and threw me back into the ground!”
Jim continues that the show will also be about going back to your roots. “I’ll be talking about my life rather than doing joke after joke – although my life is a joke, anyway!”
He adds that, “When I go back to Charlton Athletic, I return to the people I grew up with and left behind when I became famous. I always quote that great Rudyard Kipling poem, “If”: ‘If you can walk with kings and not lose the common touch.’ Well, I did walk with kings, and I was in danger of losing the common touch. So I need to ground myself and get back to where I belong, with people who I love and who love me.”
The comedian proceeds to reflect on what makes his area of South East London so special.
“When some people say, ‘I want to go home,’ you think, ‘God, I’ve seen where you live and it’s awful!’ But to them, it’s home. It’s that homing instinct we all have.
“I lived in Dubai for five years. It’s a great place, but much as I enjoyed it, I always wanted to come home. I missed all the things I couldn’t do there, like fishing in a river, going to Charlton Athletic, the smell of grass, going to the local pub, the sight of swallows arriving.”
He carries on that, “I now live in Hampshire, but whenever I go back to South East London, there’s this real buzz about it. I drive to where I used to live and look at the old shops – nostalgia is everywhere. Looking back, you only see the good bits and make them even better than they were.”
Jim goes on to disclose that in “Charlton Nil” he will also be sharing some fond memories of his mother. “I suddenly became famous at a young age, and I bought my first Rolls Royce in 1978. I remember saying to my mum, ‘Jump in the back of the Rolls Royce, I’ll take you to the bingo hall.’
“So we drove to the bingo hall in Woolwich, and she said, ‘Drive around the back. We’re too early.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Wait till there’s a queue of people outside the bingo hall and then pull up’.”
Away from stand-up, Jim has been immensely busy. Always a massive supporter of the armed forces, he now runs “Care After Combat,” a highly commendable charity which provides professional assistance to veterans of foreign conflicts and their families once they have returned home.
Last year, he also won Celebrity Big Brother.
“Winning Celebrity Big Brother made me realise how lucky I am not to be in a place like that all the time!” Jim laughs. “Inside the Big Brother House, there is always that argument going on inside your body: Do you like what you see? Am I OK?
“I got through it because I just decided to be myself. The irony was that in 2013 I was arrested on my way to the Big Brother House for 11 offences which I did not commit. Then I was told there would be no further action by the police, and in 2014 I went back into the Big Brother House and won it!”
Jim muses: “I think that was the public saying to me, ‘This is a present for you. You’ve been through a horrible time. We didn’t believe a word of those accusations, so here, we’re going to make you a winner’. It was the public giving something back. How wonderful is that?”
The comedian closes by underlining what he hopes audiences might take away from “Charlton Nil.” “I’m really, really enjoying my life right now, and I just want to make people happy. I want them to come out of my show thinking, ‘Oh my God, life isn’t so bad. If I can look at life like Jim does, then I’ll be OK.’ Fans come up to me afterwards, pat me on the back and say, ‘Thank God you’re here, Jim. You’ve made me feel great.’
“You couldn’t get anything better than that, could you?”
The former host of Big Break and The Generation Game comes to Kettering on Friday, January 22. For tickets call 01536 414141 or visit www.lighthousetheatre.co.uk.