So Jim Davidson has apparently won Celebrity Big Brother and the nation is split. There are those who believe he is a racist, misogynistic wife-beater who should never have been allowed back on TV, others who see him as a changed man who should be given another chance and some, probably the majority of the CBB audience, who just see him as a middle-aged comedian.
I'm sadly old enough to remember seeing Jim Davidson on the programme New Faces. At the time, along with most of the viewing public, I found him funny. He had a friendly stage persona and, Jamaican accents aside, had some good material. "Nick Nick" became a playground chant which shows not only his popularity but also how few TV stations we had to watch at the time.
He of course went on to present several Saturday evening programmes and always seemed an amicable host. This was of course before the general public became aware of his attitude towards homosexuality, disability and the fact that he had such a violent side.
So, to my own experience.
I was called in to write on the programme Commercial Breakdown. I had been led to believe that the programme would be hosted by Jasper Carrot - as it had been in the past. So I wrote the requested opening monologues, material to fill the gaps between the ads etc. They seemed very pleased with the work and told me that they were sure Jim would love it. I assumed Jim was one of the producers. However, on the day of filming, I discovered that Jim was Jim Davidson, who had replaced Jasper Carrot. I'll be honest, I wasn't happy and even asked for my name to be removed from the credits - which didn't go down well with anyone, including my writing agent.
Part of the contract was that I would be in the studio for the recordings. So I met Jim Davidson who invited me for a few drinks at the studio bar, an hour before the show. He had the scripts with him and, as we were drinking, he quickly looked through them - for the first time. He was very complimentary. He then folded the scripts, put them into his pocket and ordered us another round. We talked about comedy and he told me that he once, intentionally, did a joke on stage in which he messed up the ending, but which still got a big laugh - because of the rhythm. He then turned to me and said: "So, you're one of these 'alternative comedians'. I nodded, wondering where this would be going. "The ones who accuse me of being racist and sexist". I was about to answer, although to this day I'm not exactly sure what I was going to say, when he turned to the woman behind the bar and said: "Oy, darling, same again there's a sweetheart." He then turned back to me and said; "Tell me if you think this joke is racist; These two black fellows are doing the marathon....." I stopped him and quickly asked him if the punchline was based on a racist stereotype. He went through the joke in his head. "No, it's not" he said. He then told me the joke. It was. I attempted to explain why it 'could' be deemed as racist when the floor manager came running over and told him that the studio audience were now all in and that they were about to start filming.
He finished his drink, ordered another one and then went on to the studio floor. I didn't know what was going to happen. We'd had quite a few drinks and he'd only quickly looked at the script once. However, from the moment the first words appeared on the autocue he nailed it.
Every punchline was perfect, every ad-lib very funny. I have never seen such incredible comedy timing.
So, is this blog in defence of Jim Davidson? No, not at all. I don't agree with his views, and what he has done is inexcusable. It's just a shame that someone with such a talent for joke-telling chose the door on the right.