Monday, September 10, 2007

The public dismantling of Jim Davidson, aka "Hell's Kitchen"

Jim Davidson's career has been on something of a downward trajectory for some time. Once fêted by Margaret Thatcher, the toast of Conservative Association Dinners and host of The Generation Game, he is now somewhat sidelined in the entertainment world, if not in the twilight world of the Conservative party.

Last night on Hell's Kitchen the reasons why Davidson is now arguably persona non grata in mainstream entertainment were displayed with embarrassing clarity.

In summary, a series of exchanges with fellow contestant, Brian Dowling, resulted in Jim Davidson, in the words of the presenter Angus Deayton, "being asked to leave the show". I understand that this coincided almost precisely with the moment Davidson asked in writing to leave the show. gives the words used in the exchanges (there's a set-up video from YouTube below). It's worth reading. Suffice it to say that it involves Jim Davidson using the word "shirt-lifters", talking about a 'gay preen' look, accusing Dowling of 'playing the homophobic card' and, finally, starting some nonsense about "G.A.Y - good as you" which he later tried to imply was sympathetic to gay people. Bear in mind that this all happened after a hard day in the kitchen and a glass or twain of wine all round, with resultant hyperventilation stirred up by the televisual setting and, no doubt, skilful editing.

Paul Young (yes, he is still alive) played something of the umpire's role. He is a friend of Davidson and of a similar generation. Even he made clear that he thought Davidson was out of order. And in a moment of perspicuity and, indeed, perspicacity, when Davidson asked "What happens to us - where do we go?", Young said: "Well, we're the old generation, you and me, Jim. Things have moved on". Wise words.

Full marks to Brian Dowling. He stood his ground. Despite being very emotional and fighting to speak through tears and sobs, he refused to be encouraged away from Davidson by the ladies in the company. Dowling said his piece very effectively to Davidson, culminating in the statement: "You are the most offensive person I have ever met".

Thank goodness the producers had the good sense to ask Davidson to leave after all that and, it seems Mr Davidson also realised that he was on a hiding to nothing.

Concluding by saying "in fairness to Jim Davidson" would be going too far. However, it has to be said that nothing Jim Davidson said or did on that programme surprised me. He did what you would expect an unreconstructed right-winger to do. He did what you would expect Jim Davidson to do. He even asked: "What about white, straight, Anglo-Saxon males like me? Who cares about us? Where do we go?" As if white, straight, Anglo-Saxon males don't hold sufficient aces in life to be sensitive to others' feelings, like the rest of us (I'm a Celt).

None of what Davidson said or did cannot be found expressed in some corners of some pubs, clubs and homes in the country everyday. Like the Jade Goody/Big Brother stuff. But that does not excuse it for one second being blurted out on national TV without somewhat career-limiting consequences for the proponent.

(It seems Davidson is suffering from a mild case of Bernard Manning Syndrome, by the way. Having spent a lifetime making a career out of debatably offensive, or, at least, patronising, material (his act for many years majored on his friend "Chalkie", who guessed it) he is now viewing the public's arguable rejection of his previously lucrative views with complete bemusement.)

Above all, Davidson was just boorishly insensitive to Dowling. Having had a career in light entertainment, you would have thought Davidson would have shown at least an atom of sensitivity towards the chap.

Take one of the mildest things Davidson said to Dowling (who admittedly was drawing on all his considerable reality show skills): "If I was in a pub and you were there as well, I wouldn't talk to you."

It's the kind of thing you might think, but would you ever say it to someone unless they had actually said something outrageous and needed being taken down a peg or two? Of course not. And to say it to such an obviously sensitive fellow as Dowling (who incidentally has been unusual for a ex-Big Brother contestant in displaying a respectable amount of talent in television presenting, even if it is often doing that annoying ITV nightime polyfilla show with the gameboard to his right) is just not fair.

So Davidson gets his comeuppance. (As Harry Enfield's pub-berating character might say "Oi! Davidson! You're out of order!"). Unlike Jade Goody with India and Boris Johnson with Liverpool, somehow I don't see Jim Davidson doing an apologia tour of Old Compton Street, doing penitential stand-up in Heaven or, far more relevantly, apologising to the human race in general. That's the point. He is such an insensitive person that salvaging his mainstream career with some humility and grace is simply not in him, I suspect. Instead, we'll probably get the affronted "I didn't mean any offence...many of my best friends are gay" defence. But I live in hope of being proved wrong.

So, as Jim Davidson asked last night: "Where do I go?"

Answer, presumably Jim: where you've been recently. Dubai is it, some of the time? One suspects it may well be anywhere except mainstream British public life.

Has anyone got Martin Bashir's number?

UPDATE: You can see the clip of the “dust-up” from last night here on ITV's site - under “Latest clips” – “He’s a horrible man”.


  1. Jim was not offensive. At all. To anyone. Brian, on the other hand, is a self-centred idiot who genuinely believes that the world revolves around him. "Full marks to Brian Dowling. He stood his ground. Despite being very emotional and fighting to speak through tears and sobs". Tears and sobs? This is a grown man who acts like a spoilt three year old. Why is it offensive to say that gay people have a "look"? It's not homophobic.... it's TRUE. Proof? Brian has built a career around being camp and having a "look" and good luck to him, but to be offended because it gets pointed out? He makes money from being "camp" - that's HIS on-screen character. They've both made money from creating an on-screen persona but only one is getting precious about his. How pathetic. Jim is not homophobic. Jim is Brian-ophobic and who would not be when Brian is a whining, self-centred drama queen who wants everyone to run around after him and do his bidding. I'm not gay but I have gay friends (yes, that cliche) and I am in no way homophobic. Brian, however, makes me truly sick. He is a truly awful person who gets a bee in his bonnet and will not allow anyone else to speak until his childish gripes are out. Given that Brian has yet to demonstrate even a tiny amount of talent at doing anything, I pray this is the end of his spoilt "career".

  2. Thank you for having the great courage to say that, Anonymous

  3. Its so unfortunate that its people like you that make Jims actions acceptable. Go back to the 1950s where homosexuals where unable to express thier opinion in case they were arrested, open your eyes and look around you the world has changed.


  5. I started off thinking I wawsn't going to defend Jim Davidson but I am. Not for his views - which I don't share. And not for his apparent determination to say the wrong thing at the wrong time - I think he was deliberately playing a role but that doesn't excuse the abusiveness. What I will defend him for are two things. First the G.A.Y. - Good As You thing. That was a genuine gay liberation slogan of the past. I am sure that when Davidson said it, he was trying to be conciliatory. He certainly wasn't trying to say that he (Davidson) and the person he was speaking to (Dowling) were one and equable. He may have been out of date, it may well not have made up for all he said previously, but at least on that point he didn't appear to be trying to be even more offensive. Second, the holier than thou attitude of ITV. If you invite someone like Davidson onto a show like Hell's Kitchen then what on earth do you expect? Reality TV without the reality is a lie - and look where that has got TV companies recently.

  6. Thank you all for your comments. Jiggaman, I understood your remarks - you didn't need to shout (block capitals)

  7. I think Jim Davidson behaved as you would expect him to behave. He bitched about people and picked on people based on their gender or sexual orientation. His nose was permenantly brown from being stuck up Marco's arse. He's a sickening human being; but there again, I bet the whole debacle was great for viewing figures.
    I don't think it's fair to slate Brian Dowling for finally taking Jim on after taking a fair amount of crap from him over the last few days.I think he'd just had enough. And he's worked really well in the kitchen without any drama,doing well in his section.Everyone has their limits and, if anything, I think he held back longer than he should've and took more crap than most people would in order to not come across as playing the homophobic card.

  8. Hoorah. Totally agree with everything "anonymous" has said. thank god there are still people who can see through all this. jim davidson can be offensive but in his heyday he was offensive to everyone not one group or another. i for one am heartily sick of the pc brigade & wish they would just let people get on with their lives. What next next banish words like fat & thin, for substantial & slender? dont worry it will come. By the way in case any ones interested (& this isnt playing the racist card) im of ethnic origin, to be totally pc.

  9. Can I recommend Silent Witness. It sounded as if it was so much better than this B rate celebsturbation!

  10. Anonymous, I hope you're agreeing with me Anonymous and not the other Anonymous...ahem.(I know you're not really)
    And while I agree that PCness can be and frequently is taken too far; in this instance,picking on someone because he's gay isn't ok and that's what was happening.
    That guy was never really a comedian as such,he told jokes.He hasn't got a funny bone in his body.Brian cracks people up a lot and I don't think he liked that at all.And why did Marco feel the need to keep saying,"You make me laugh,Jim" while forcing out the most ungenuine laughter noises when Jim did make any pathetic attempt at humour?

  11. It's compelling car crash TV,Jock.And I've seen all the Silent Witnesses before.

  12. Well - in the sense that they all have the same plot, yes, but I thought this series is a bunch of new ones? Not to worry - still got to be better than "Hell's Kitchen"!

    Anyway - if that clip is about the worst of it, as a gay man, I was not offended personally (as I would normally be seeing Jim Davidson actually trying to be funny in stand-up). Maybe he's just not "with it" enough to know that camp well preened men are now called "meterosexual"...:)

  13. All the 'inmates' of Hells Kitchen are being victimised by the mere fact that the producers turn the emphasis of this show from cooking to the drama and misery of people's lives. No-one will remember the talents of Marco Pierre-White, no-one will remember exquisite food preparation, but everyone will remember the bust-ups that have been publicly aired throughout. Why do all these 'celebrity' chefs have to eat, breathe and sleep together after a day's work? is this what normally happens in the working world? No, it's all manufactured for the viewing audience isn't it! Does any sane human being really want to see exhausted individuals taking out their frustrations on each other, when at the end of a normal working day they would be normally enjoy a quite time, in their own home, with their own personal space in which to unwind? But that doesn't make dramatic TV does it! I wanted to see the excellence of cooking by one of our country's top chef's being taught and appreciated - instead I see

  14. Thank you all very much, esepcially Anonymous, who has a wide spectrum of views! ;-)

    Jock, I saw Silent Witness last night before the Davidson v Dowling dust-up. They are new ones and I agree with you that they are excellent. They are so much better since Amanda “I’m perfect” Burton slung her hook and was promoted to Commander.

    That clip I embedded was the only one I could find when I posted earlier today. It is in fact a clip from a day or so ago, not from last night.

    You can see the clip of the “dust-up” from last night here:

    Under “Latest clips” – “He’s a horrible man”.

  15. Typical. Brian Dowling is allowed to make jokes about his own sexuality and camp it up (which is how he makes a living) but god forbid anyone else should do it.
    Once a certain section of HK had seen the chink in Jims armour and realised that they could probably make him walk by accusing him of being offensive at every turn they really went for it. This has increased their chances of winning because lets face it Jim was by far he most well known person on the show, was cooking well, getting on well with Marco and if he'd kept his cool could well have won.
    So well done Brian, you have got what you wanted and extended your TV career a little bit. Not that it will last too long as you have no obvious talent.
    As with most things in Britain today it's one rule for one etc..

  16. The world has gone mad. Brian Dowling is the only gay man that I know of that has a sense of humour failure. My brother is gay and I also have a number of gay friends. I think that they would have all laughed off what Jim said. Most of them are very good and sending themselves and their sexuality up. What is wrong with Dowling.

    I don't think Davidson was trying to be offensive. But I do agree with him that we are becoming PC obsessive. My children can't even sing bah bah blck sheep at nursery. How stupid is that?

  17. go into politics Jim and save this once fine country from disappearing up it's own backside (sorry).I've seen many of your shows and you've always said what others of been too scared to say and it's always been the truth. Spot on Jim.

  18. Jim has the courage with others to go and entertain our troops in hot shops around the world where they could be shot at, Jim has the courage to say what a great many people think. If you do not like it then change the channel and watch something more suited to you.