Jack Dee

Jack Dee

Date of birth: 24-09-1962
Dee's first public act was an open-mike gig in 1988. He toiled away on the circuit with little success, while holding down menial kitchen jobs.

Disillusioned with his lack of progress, he was ready to quit when he took to the stage with a grumpy, 'couldn't care less attiude' which, to his surprised, won over the audience. In that moment he found his voice – and a career.

Things really took off in 1991, when he won the British Comedy Award for best stage newcomer as well as a Perrier Award nomination.

In February the following year he landed his own, series on Channel 4, setting him on the road to fame. By 1995 he was starring in his own series on ITV.

His list of awards to date include two at the 1995 British Comedy Awards, three British Advertising awards for his infamous 'widget' John Smith Bitter commercials in 1997, and the best stand-up gong at the 1997 British Comedy Awards.

As well as his comedy work, he has appeared on TV dramas including The Grimleys in 1996; fairground romance, Tunnel of Love in 2004; and The Deputy, where he played a political fixer alongside Warren Clarke, also in 2004. He has also performed in Yasmina Reza's award-winning play Art in the West End. Probably one of his most memorable television appearances was on the first Celebrity Big Brother, in 2001, which he won.

In 2004, Jack returned to stand-up on television with Jack Dee: Live At The Apollo featuring stand-up appearances from Joan Rivers, Ross Noble and Ardal O'Hanlon.

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Jack Dee: Prison gig definitely wasn't my Johnny Cash moment

Comic recalls a nightmare experience

comedyJack Dee has told of the time he, Rob Newman and the late Sean Hughes played a stand-up gig in a Scottish prison.

He recalled: ‘We went with a Canadian agent who was from the Just For Laughs festival. He said, "Yeah, it's no big deal, I've been to a lot of prisons in the US, you'll be fine, you'll be fine."

‘We go through the gates, and we all get searched and everything like that, and he just suddenly goes really quiet, this Canadian agent. After about 20 minutes, we got taken through to the chapel, where the gig was going to be. 

‘Bruce, his name was, came up to me and says "Jack, have I got this right? None of the wardens have guns?" I said, "I think you’ll find that is right"

‘He just went pale because he thought we're about to let in like 200 prisoners and do this gig, which was a nightmare anyway; I think he was worried for his life at that point 

’It was a pretty tough gig. I remember my opening line was, "I was on the bus the other day and someone at the back shouts, "lucky you!"

‘I thought, "Ooh, yeah, okay. I've overlooked that, haven't I?"’

The gig – at Perth Prison – had been arranged by his larger-than-life agent Addison Cresswell, who died in 2013, during the Edinburgh Fringe.

‘I don't know why he thought that was a good thing to do,’ Dee reflected on Kate Thornton’s White Wine Question Time podcast. ‘I think he must have thought it was my Johnny Cash moment or something.’

In a previous interview about the gig, he recalled the  Scottish warden telling him dolefully that most of the audience were re-murderers, so they had ‘murdered, done time, got out and murdered again’.

Dee recalled: ‘So it was for our own safety that the lights had to be on the audience instead of the stage.’

• Kate Thornton’s White Wine Question Time is available on all podcast platforms, including Apple.

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Published: 9 Feb 2024

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