Jack Dee

Jack Dee

Jack Dee in 2007
Born 24 September 1961 (1961-09-24) (age 50)
Petts Wood, Kent, England
Years active 1986–present
Spouse Susan Jane Hetherington (m. 1989–present)
Notable works and roles The Jack Dee Show (1992–94)
Just For Laughs (1992)
'Art' (1998)
Jack Dee: Live at the Apollo (2004–06)
Lead Balloon (2006–2011)
British Comedy Awards
Best Stage Newcomer
Best Standup Comedian

James Andrew Innes "Jack" Dee (born 24 September 1961) is an English stand-up comedian, actor and writer known for his sardonic, curmudgeonly, and deadpan style.


Early life

Dee was the youngest of three children born to Rosemary A. (née Stamper) and Geoffrey T. Dee, after Joanna Innes Dee & David Simon Innes Dee. Jack Dee was born in Petts Wood, then in Kent, now in Greater London,[1] but his family moved to Winchester when he was young. His father, Geoffrey, was a printer and his mother, Rosemary, was the daughter of two unsuccessful repertory actors, Henry Lionel Pope "Lionel" Stamper (1906–1985) & Edna May Howard Innes (1904–1969) (and the great-niece of Charles William Stamper, motor engineer to King Edward VII).[2]


Dee was educated at both independent and state schools. His first school was The Pilgrims' School, a junior independent school in Winchester, followed by the state Montgomery of Alamein School for his secondary education, for some time he attended Frensham Heights School. He took his A-levels at Peter Symonds' College, and left with a D and an F grade. Following this, he planned to attend drama college, but his plans were scuppered when his mother persuaded him to get a vocation, and so he entered the catering industry and became a waiter.[3]

Life and career

In his twenties, Dee worked at the Ritz and started drinking heavily. He attended church and attempted to become a priest. After he realised that wasn't for him he gave that up, he quit drinking, although he would later describe his condition as "alcohol abuse" rather than alcoholism, which it was reported as at the time.[4] Since then he has advertised John Smith's Bitter.


Dee's first public act was an open-mic gig in 1986 at the Comedy Store, which he went to one evening after work.[5] He was encouraged to write additional material and to tour the circuit. Since the 1990s he has performed sell-out acts at many high-profile venues (including the London Palladium and the Hammersmith Apollo). After he scooped the British Comedy Award for Best Stage Newcomer in 1991, Dee was offered his own show; The Jack Dee Show first went out on Channel 4 in February 1992, bringing him to a wider audience. His combination of stand-up routines on television continued with Jack Dee's Saturday Night on ITV, Jack Dee's Happy Hour in 1997 and later Jack Dee Live at the Apollo in 2004 on BBC One.

Aside from his successful stand-up career, Dee has played starring roles and guest appearances in television series. He played the part of Doug Digby in the Grimleys pilot (1997) before the role was recast for the series, and made guest appearances on such programmes as Silent Witness, Dalziel and Pascoe and Jonathan Creek.

In 2001, he won Celebrity Big Brother (then linked to fundraising for Comic Relief). During evictions, he dressed up in a tweed jacket and cap and held his packed suitcase, hoping to be voted out. During the eviction of another housemate he briefly absconded to sneak a quick kiss with his wife. He also escaped for several hours at night-time. He has subsequently said that he dislikes the treatment of the housemates by the show and its producers, and has refused all permission for any of the clips to be shown again.[6]

In 2004 he played the role of Steven Sharples MP the self-styled 'Deputy Home Secretary' alongside Warren Clarke and Dervla Kirwan in The Deputy. Dee's performance was praised, though the film itself received a lukewarm response.[7] Later that year he starred in another one-off drama, Tunnel of Love. He was the celebrity advocate in Britain's Best Sitcom for Fawlty Towers and presented an hour-long documentary about the series.

In 2005 he co-hosted Comic Aid, a one-off gathering of comedians that aimed to raise money for the Asian Tsunami Appeal. In May of the same year he appeared on the "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car" segment of the BBC Two series Top Gear, achieving a lap time of 1:53.5 (52nd on the Suzuki Liana leader board). His most recent series Lead Balloon, which he also co-wrote, began on BBC Four on 4 October 2006. Described as "Britain's answer to Curb Your Enthusiasm",[8] Lead Balloon sees Dee play the semi-biographical role of Rick Spleen. A second series of eight episodes was commissioned and was broadcast on BBC Two in 2007, with a third series debuting on Thursday 13 November 2008. A fourth series has just finished being shown on the BBC as of the 5th July.[9] He also starred as Harry in the 2005 film Short Order.

Dee makes frequent appearances on the panel shows I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, QI and Have I Got News for You, which he has guest-presented nine times, and he hosts segments of the BBC's biennial Comic Relief telethon. He starred in advertisements for John Smith's Bitter in the 1990s, becoming known as "the midget with the widget".

He made his stage debut in 1998, playing Yvan in Yasmina Reza's Olivier award-winning 'Art'. He later returned as Serge for a 13-week run at the request of the director.[1]

In 2008, Dee took part in the 15th anniversary special of Shooting Stars where he replaced Will Self as captain of Team A. The show aired on 30 December 2008 on BBC2.

Dee returned as team captain in series 6 of Shooting Stars on 26 August 2009, and again for the 7th series.

In February 2009, it was announced that Dee would be one of a trio of hosts to replace Humphrey Lyttelton for the summer series of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue (the others being Stephen Fry and Rob Brydon).[10] Dee subsequently became the permanent host from the 52nd series onwards.[11]

Over Christmas 2009, Dee played the role of John Tweedledum in The News at Bedtime.

In 2010, Dee took part in Channel 4's Comedy Gala, a benefit show held in aid of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, filmed live at the O2 Arena in London on 30 March.

Personal life

Dee met Susan Jane "Jane" Hetherington, in 1986 when he was working as a waiter in Fulham and she was a receptionist at a nearby hotel.[12] They married in Winchester, Hampshire, in 1989.[13] Together they have four children[13]: Hannah Jane Innes (born 1992), Sophie Jane Innes (born late 1994) and twins, Frederic 'Freddy' Leonardo Innes and Charles Leonardo Innes 'Charlie' (born 1998).

Dee suffers from depression, and he has claimed that his work is the best therapy for his condition, saying "if you have the impulse to be creative, you ignore it at your peril".[14]

He abused alcohol heavily in the 1980s. Following his appearance on Celebrity Big Brother he had a relapse, though did not attend AA meetings because he did not want paparazzi photographing him leaving the meetings.[15]

In 2007, the Daily Express reported that he was in negotiations with publishers to release his autobiography.[16] He signed with Doubleday in 2008 and the book, Thanks For Nothing: The Jack Dee Memoirs, was released in October 2009, along with an audiobook of the same title which he narrates.[17] According to Dee, "it's really the story of how I got into comedy... It's kind of an autobiography but isn't, as it stops about 25 years ago. It goes right up to the first time I do stand up."[18]

In February 2009 Dee and several other entertainers wrote an open letter to The Times supporting Bahá'í leaders then on trial in Iran.[19]

Dee is also a director of Open Mike Productions Which produces shows for television and radio.

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1991 British Comedy Award Best Stage Newcomer Won
Perrier Comedy Award Nominated
1997 British Advertising Award John Smith's Bitter Commercials Won
British Comedy Award Best Stand-up Comedian Won
2006 British Academy Television Award Best Entertainment Performance Jack Dee Live at the Apollo Nominated

Stand-up VHS & DVDs

  • Live at the Duke of York's Theatre (1992)
  • Live at the London Palladium (10 October 1994)
  • Live in London (10 November 1997)
  • Live and Uncut (5 November 2001)
  • Live At The Apollo (18 November 2002)
  • Live Again (14 November 2005)

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b BBC Comedy Guide: Jack Dee, URL last accessed 14 August 2006
  2. ^ Dee, Jack. Thanks For Nothing. Doubleday, 2009. p133-4.
  3. ^ Cavendish, Lucy (23 October 2006). "Now I don't need to be drunk to be happy". Evening Standard. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/starinterviews/article-23371763-now-i-dont-need-to-be-drunk-to-be-happy.do. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  4. ^ Wark, Penny (3 August 2002). "Jack Dee: a seriously funny man". The Times. 
  5. ^ Different sources give different dates for the open-mike gig, with some saying 1986, some 1987 and some 1988. An interview with The Times in 2004 states 1987. Chortle gives 1986 and 1988 on the same page. His biography at Off The Kerb, which represents him, gives it as 1986.
  6. ^ Jack Dee, Mark Lawson (3 October 2006). Mark Lawson Talks to Jack Dee (TV-series). BBC Four. 
  7. ^ Flett, Kathryn (29 February 2004). "The ups and downs of pros and cons". The Observer (London). http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1158696,00.html. Retrieved 2006-08-14. 
  8. ^ Byrne, Ciar (26 January 2006). "Dee writes BBC's answer to "Curb Your Enthusiasm"". The Independent (London). http://news.independent.co.uk/media/article341031.ece. Retrieved 2006-08-14. 
  9. ^ http://twitter.com/#!/TheRealJackDee/status/17928563932008448
  10. ^ Digital Spy: Fry, Brydon, Dee to host 'Clue' return
  11. ^ Jack Dee to host Radio 4's Clue
  12. ^ Farndale, Nigel. "The unshine boy: Jack Dee interview". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/comedy/6615666/The-unshine-boy-Jack-Dee-interview.html#. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Barfoot, Paul. "There's more to funny fella Jack Dee than just deadpan wit.". BBC Entertainment. BBC. http://bbcentertainment.com/nordic/programmes/liveattheapollo/facts/. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  14. ^ The unshine boy: Jack Dee interview
  15. ^ Billen, Andrew (17 February 2004). "Politics? I'd rather talk about God". The Times. 
  16. ^ Spencer, Kathryn (4 January 2007). "Jack's back in bid to sell his life story". Daily Express. 
  17. ^ "It's his autobiograph-Dee". Chortle. 4 December 2008. http://www.chortle.co.uk/news/2008/04/12/6626/its_his_autobiograp-dee. 
  18. ^ Thair, David (8 May 2009). "HIGNFY Guest Host interview: Jack Dee". BBC Comedy Blog. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/comedy/2009/05/hignfy-guest-host-interview-ja.shtml. 
  19. ^ "Stand up for Iran’s Baha’is – Voices from the arts call for the imprisoned Baha'i leaders in Iran to receive a fair trial". The Times (London). 26 February 2009. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article5804284.ece. 

External links

Preceded by
Celebrity Big Brother UK Winner
Series 1 (2001)
Succeeded by
Mark Owen

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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