Jim Davidson knows there is a ‘Jim Davidson from then’ and a ‘Jim Davidson now’, but he can’t quite put his finger on the difference.
All he knows is that in between the two was a year of the worst possible nightmare.
On January 2 2013 Jim was arrested on the way to Big Brother amid allegations of historic sex abuse. In August that year, it was announced that no further action would be taken in relation to the allegations, due to insufficient evidence.
“This year has been pretty different to last year, I’ll tell you that,” says Jim who has distilled the experience into a book and a show, Jim Davidson: No Further Action, proof that he’s back for good.
The show plays Southampton’s Guildhall on November 30 (02380 632601).
But as he says, there’s something missing now: “I think I have lost in some way a little bit of my ability to rejoice in anything. A bit of me was taken away. This thing came completely out of the blue, and a part of me is now thinking ‘What next? Cancer? Getting run over by a bus?’ You go through life having pretty much a carefree attitude, but I am not sure that I have got that now.”
So how come he’s back on the stage again, making people laugh?
“It’s my job. I need to earn my living, and I enjoy talking to people. But I also think I owe the public this much: they got me through an awful year, and they gave me the win on Big Brother. It’s for me to go out and tell them all the details if they want to hear them.”
As he says, it was largely thanks to the public that he was able to battle through it all: “There was hardly any anti-reaction, maybe just the odd nutter on Twitter who doesn’t like you anyway... the Schadenfreude brigade. But the public reaction really was marvellous.
“But I don’t think I blame anyone. I don’t blame the police,” says Jim, fully accepting that the allegations had to be investigated. “They soon sussed out that I liked to talk. It was like a two-man audience I had. They did what they had to do. But with these sexual accusations, it is very difficult because it is one person’s word against another, and there is no corroborative evidence. There is certainly no DNA from 38 years ago, so what the police do is they look for a pattern. There wasn’t one for me. And so we decided to give them our own pattern. We showed them 38 statements saying that I did not drive this particular car, that I wasn’t in that particular hotel bar, that the (accuser’s) description of the London Palladium was totally wrong.”
Even so, doubts that he would prove his innocence were inevitable: “At the time, I thought I was getting great legal advice, but there were feelings that there were demons in the air and that it was a fait accompli to make up for lack of action on Jimmy Saville, that the pendulum was going too far the other way.”
Incidentally, Jim met Savile: “I didn’t know him. I just met him when I had to. He was charming and wrong-footed me slightly. When you heard him coming along, you would run off because he was slightly weird, not in a sexual way, but so self-centred.”
Jim suspects people didn’t so much condone his behaviour as simply find other appointments when he appeared – maybe an element towards the reason he got away with what he did for so long.
Either way, Jim suspects that he himself was part of the backlash. But now he’s getting his life back.
“I am a different man this year to what I was last year. People say I look ten years younger now. I must have looked awful last year. Something has lifted off my shoulders. There was a before me and there is a me now, and I can’t quite put my finger on what is it. I was so beaten up by it all...”
But now he has turned the worst year of his life into a resounding success. Fresh from winning the most successful ever series of Big Brother by a landslide, Jim’s back on the road – with his book in hand.
“Looking back, I’m really glad I kept a diary to document what I was going through. I found it extremely cathartic and it has helped me tell the story in the book with total accuracy and honesty. It’s also helped me find some humour amongst it all too. I always seem to find the funny side... And then, for a finale, along came Big Brother. Wait till you hear the inside stories on that!”