Jim Davidson: ‘I didn’t have a name to clear, because I didn’t have a bad name,’

Jim Davidson
Jim Davidson

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It’s been a tempestuous 18 months for the controversial Hampshire-based comic Jim Davidson – even by his standards.

As he was preparing to enter the house for Celebrity Big Brother in January 2013, he was arrested as part of Operation Yewtree. But by August the charges against him had been dropped for lack of evidence.

So when he finally went into the CBB house this January and eventually emerged as the show’s winner, it felt like a sweet victory.

When Jim, who lives in Stockbridge in west Hampshire, was first arrested, he freely admits he was nervous – albeit in slightly more colourful language.

He recalls: ‘There were moments when I was sitting in that prison cell thinking I should be in the Big Brother house, and there were moments a year later when I was in the Big Brother house and I was wishing I was back in that cell – at least I would have got some sleep.’

The worst thing for the comic was not knowing what he was being accused of.

‘When I actually heard the accusations it was a relief,’ he says, ‘because I thought the worst thing was being arrested and not being told what for.

‘They grab you and whisk you off and they mention someone’s name, and a year, 1978 or something, and you’ve no idea who it is.

‘And then when they do tell you what it is, you think: “Thank God, I can deal with this.” Then they give you another six accusations and you deal with that as well.

‘What me and my legal team did was to have our actual court battle before I was charged. We got all our evidence, every single scrap of evidence – dates, places and things, and presented it to the police. And then they said: “Oh, err, we see.”

‘It wasn’t that there was a lack of evidence – there was tonnes of evidence. And it all from me and my team. It persuaded the CPS that they would not get a conviction out of any of this.’

While Jim claims that he bears no ill-feeling towards the police about the whole affair, he clearly wants to put his side across. He’s planning his first ever Edinburgh Festival show this summer and is then going out on tour with a show specifically to talk about it.

He says: ‘Operation Yewtree was set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile accusations – and that’s all they are – and they were about under-age sex and paedophiles. Don’t drag me in with all this.

‘I was arrested and none of it was to do with under-age sex, it was all about women in their 20s and 30s over a period of 40-odd years.

‘You tend to think: “I’m being tarred with this paedophile brush”, but I think when I was arrested the public a) didn’t believe it and b) were sick of it.

‘I didn’t have a name to clear, because I didn’t have a bad name, I just had someone making accusations and it was my job to help the police with their investigations, and that’s exactly what we did. The police were very good. They were extremely charming when they were with me.’

And he says that people were also uniformly supportive during that period.

‘I got lots of pats on the back,and people saying “don’t worry about it”, people telling me it was rubbish.

‘I don’t react well to people giving me grief but everyone was really supportive, and they were supportive to my family and my wife.’

However, being able to take part in this year’s Celebrity Big Brother, and not only that but winning it, was major vindication for Jim.

Some of the other housemates, particularly rapper Dappy, came to look at the five-times married comedian as a father figure.

‘Yeah, some of them thought that, and I was fine with that,’ he says. ‘But to win was great. That did feel good, and to hear everyone cheering for me when I came out.’

However, he is now concentrating on the tour with his old friend Richard Digance, pictured left.

The pair often performed for troops in far-flung place – Jim is well-known for his support for the armed forces.

He says: ‘We used to knock about together and do shows abroad and all that for the troops, but we’d never really done anything in the UK.

‘We did a show ages ago with me, him and Chas and Dave – we hardly ever saw each other, I was turning up when he was finishing, etc, etc, and now we travel together and we have a good old natter.

‘He does the first half, I do the second half, we have a natter. He talks about me in the first half, and I answer his accusations in the second half – we’re both slagging each off basically, it’s a good laugh actually.

‘We watch each other perform – I sit in the wings to watch him, then he’s out front signing his books and whatnot when I’m on, and we go and have a curry afterwards. He’s very good, Richard, he goes down very well with the audience, which makes me raise my game, and that’s never a bad thing.’

And following his boost from Big Brother, he won’t rule out a return to television, where he ruled the ’90s with shows such Big Break and The Generation Game.

‘I’ve had my time, everyone has a shelf life, but I was happy to be Mr Saturday Night for a few years.

‘First of all, I don’t want to be back on TV just to be on TV.

If there’s a vehicle, and there’s something I want to talk about, then fine.’

He admits he’s been offered ‘bits’ since winning the show, but adds: ‘These things take forever. The thing I have to concentrate on at the moment is making sure that me and Richard give people the best night out.’

Jim Davidson and Richard Digance Together Again! is at the Kings Theatre in Southsea on Thursday, doors 7.30pm. Tickets from £20.50 (concessions available) at kings-southsea.com, or call (023) 9282 8282.