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Jim Davidson: 'If I could say sorry I would'
Jim Davidson has written a play about a bigoted, middle-aged comedian – and it's only loosely based on himself writes Sarfraz Manzoor

The young black comedian fixes Jim Davidson with a contemptuous glare. "I grew up feeling inadequate because of your comedy," he says. "You old-school guys got laughs from feeding people's prejudices." Davidson, chunkier than we remember him, bespectacled and grey-haired, listens on as the comedian continues to berate him. "Has it ever occurred to you that all the stereotyping you do is negative? You just don't get it – you're such a fucking prick."

It is an extraordinarily dramatic moment, rendered even more remarkable when one learns that the entire encounter is in fact a scene from a new stage play written by the target of the abuse: Jim Davidson. The play Stand Up and Be Counted sees Davidson playing a bigoted, middle-aged comedian who envies and despises the new generation of politically correct comedians who dismiss him in turn as a hateful dinosaur.

"So this Eddie Pierce character you play – he's basically you, isn't he?" I ask during a pause in the run-through, which takes place in a basement under a large church on London's Tottenham Court Road. Davidson peers down his glasses, pauses and says, "This guy is a racist, homophobic bigot – how could it be based on me?" There's an uncomfortable silence before he bursts out laughing.

We think we know Jim Davidson; the south London, Page 3 girl-dating, Thatcher-loving, Our Boys-supporting, gay-baiting, hard-drinking, racist standup comedian. In the 80s his routine was infamous for his depictions of the character Chalky – a slow-witted and stereotypical black character with a weed habit and Jamaican accent. Watching him as a child, to my eyes Davidson didn't seem a hardcore bigot like Bernard Manning. With his breezy manner and cheeky-chappy air, Davidson reminded me of a weak-minded schoolboy who goes along with the bullying as he knows it will make him popular.

In the 90s, Davidson reinvented himself as the BBC's Mr Saturday Night, with Big Break and The Generation Game. Both programmes were eventually cancelled and Davidson found himself out of fashion. He hasn't been on television since, apart from a disastrous appearance on ITV reality show Hell's Kitchen, which he was thrown off for referring to"shirt-lifters" in front of the gay former Big Brother contestant Brian Dowling. That appearance confirmed to his critics that Davidson was an unreconstructed bigot and it is that public perception he explores in Stand Up and Be Counted. "I dipped into the perception of me and thought, let's write about it," he says. "It was like having a conversation with myself."

For the full article

The Guardian