Preview: Jim Davidson

Jim Davidson. Pic: Comp
Jim Davidson. Pic: Comp
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LOVE him or loathe him, there’s no denying that when it comes to working a crowd, few do it better than Jim Davidson.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise. After all, this is the man who, for three decades, was never off prime time telly thanks to series such as The Jim Davidson Show, which ran from 1979 to 1982, Up the Elephant and Round the Castle, Home James!, Big Break, and as the host of The Generation Game.

More recently, he appeared in Hell’s Kitchen and, of course, he won the last series of Celebrity Big Brother.

Which is partly why he is here. When he was initially slated to appear on the reality TV show, plans had to be put on hold when he was arrested by officers working on Operation Yewtree.

In No Further Action, at the Assembly Hall, on The Mound, Davidson is out to set the record straight.

But first, he reveals that making his Fringe debut is proving more challenging than he imagined, due to the intimate nature of his venue.

“That room is impossible. You feel like you’re at the bottom of a staircase, talking to people sitting on the steps,” says the funnyman, who is more used to holding court in venues such as the Playhouse.

“Once you get over that, it’s quite good fun, but I do feel quite self-conscious every minute I am up there, mainly because there are no jokes to remember, it’s all basically true stories that have been spiced up a little.

“It’s conversational, something I’m not used to, but there’s no point in coming here and doing the jokes that I do on stage... or rather did do.

“A bloke came up to me earlier and said, ‘Are you going to be doing the old stuff we like.’

“Well, not really. I’ve moved on. He just hasn’t seen me for 20 years.

“What Big Brother did was bring me an audience that has no baggage like that. People who hadn’t seen me before and just know me as that funny comic.

“The worst thing about me is the perception, and I hope that the people who see me will think, ‘Hey hang on, that wasn’t racist, that wasn’t sexist, that wasn’t homophobic, it was just funny. But someone will cry ‘racist’, ‘homophobic’, ‘sexist...’

“I can’t be on the back foot all the time, saying I’m not these things. Judge me by what I do. Since Big Brother people have seen the real me, and not the thing they have based me on since 1973, with Chalky and god knows what else.”

As the title of his new show hints, Davidson also wants to address his arrest and, what was the worst year of his life.

“I never really got the chance to rejoice after the police told me they were taking no further action. I kept thinking, ‘It’s not over’. It was so traumatic. But now... this is a chance for me rejoice.”

• Jim Davidson: No Further Action, Assembly Hall, The Mound, until 25 August (not 9/18), 9.15pm, £13-£15, 0131-226 0000