Jack Dee

James Andrew Innes Dee (born 24 September 1961) is an English stand-up comedian, actor, presenter and writer known for his sarcasm, irony and deadpan humour.[2] He is well known in the United Kingdom for writing and starring in the sitcom Lead Balloon and hosting the panel show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

Jack Dee
Jack Dee in 2014
Birth nameJames Andrew Innes Dee
Born (1961-09-24) 24 September 1961
Bromley, Kent, England
MediumStand-up, television, radio
Years active1986–present
GenresDeadpan, Observational comedy
Subject(s)Everyday life, Family, Marriage, Human interaction, Current events
SpouseSusan Jane Hetherington (m. 1989–present)
Notable works and rolesThe Jack Dee Show (1992–1994)
Just for Laughs (1992)
'Art' (1998)
Jack Dee: Live at the Apollo (2004–2006)
Lead Balloon (2006–2011)
Don't Sit in the Front Row (2012–2013)
Josh (2014–present)
Bad Move (2017–present)

His numerous UK television appearances include being a team captain on Shooting Stars and hosting Jack Dee: Live at the Apollo, which was nominated for a BAFTA in 2006. He also presented The Jack Dee Show, Jack Dee's Saturday Night and Jack Dee's Happy Hour. He won Celebrity Big Brother 1 in 2001.

Early life and education

Jack Dee was the youngest of three children born to Rosemary A. (née Stamper) and Geoffrey T. Dee, after Joanna Innes Dee and David Simon Innes Dee. Jack was born in Bromley, Kent,[3] and grew up in nearby Petts Wood[4] before moving with his family to Winchester when he was young. His father, Geoffrey, was a printer and his mother, Rosemary, was the daughter of two repertory actors, Henry Lionel Pope Stamper (1906–1985) and Edna May Howard Innes (1904–1969).[5]

Dee was educated at both independent and state schools. His first school, The Pilgrims' School, a preparatory school in Winchester, was followed by the state Montgomery of Alamein School for his secondary education, and for a period 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.[6]


Dee's first public act was an open-mic gig in 1986 at The Comedy Store, which he went to one evening after work.[7] 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.

In 1996, he starred alongside Jeremy Hardy in Jack and Jeremy's Real Lives, a collection of mockumentaries similar to their previous collaboration, Jack And Jeremy's Police 4. Each episode would focus on the pair playing bizarre characters from a particular profession. Shot on film and featuring no laugh track, the show failed to catch on. After three episodes it was moved to air after midnight. The pilot featured Sacha Baron Cohen being electrocuted. 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.[8]

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.[9] 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[10] 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",[11] 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 finished on the BBC on 5 July 2011.[12] He also starred as Harry in the 2005 film Short Order.

In February 2009, it was announced that Dee would be one of a trio of hosts to replace the late Humphrey Lyttelton for the summer series of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue (the others being Stephen Fry and Rob Brydon).[13] He subsequently became the permanent host from the 52nd series onwards.[14] He is also a frequent guest on QI and Have I Got News for You, which he has guest-presented ten 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.[4]

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. 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. In 2013, Dee joined Dara Ó Briain, Chelsee Healey, Greg James, Mel C and Philips Idowu in Through Hell and High Water, a Comic Relief challenge which involved British celebrities canoeing the most difficult rapids of the Zambezi River. They raised more than £1 million for the charity.


Year Title Role Notes
1992 Jack Dee Live At The Duke Of York's Theatre Himself
1992–1994 The Jack Dee Show Presenter
1993 The South Bank Show Himself Guest
1994 Jack Dee Live At The London Palladium Himself
1995 Top of the Pops Guest Presenter 3 episodes
1995 The Steal Wilmot's Servant Guest role
1996 Jack & Jeremy's Real Lives Various characters
1997 Clive Anderson Guest
1997 The Grimleys Doug Digby Main cast
1999 Comic Relief Presenter
1999 It's only TV, But I like It Team captain
1999 Jack Dee: Live In London Himself
1999 Silent Witness Chris Caldwell Guest role
2000 Don't Panic: The Dad's Army Story Himself Guest
2000–2001 Happy Hour Himself Regular
2001 Celebrity Big Brother Contestant Winner
2001 Trust Me I'm a Celebrity Presenter
2002 Jack Dee Live At The Apollo Himself
2002 Dalziel and Pascoe Dick Dee Guest role
2003 Comic Relief Himself
2003 Jonathan Creek Dudley Houseman Guest role
2004 Bob Monkhouse: A BAFTA Tribute Himself Guest
2004–2007, 2013 Live at the Apollo Presenter
2004 Tunnel of Love Roy TV movie
2005 Comic Aid Presenter One-off edition
2005 Jack Dee Live Again Himself One-off special
2006 Mark Lawson Talks To... Himself Guest
2006 The Last Drop Warren
2006–2011 Lead Balloon Rick Spleen Main cast
2007 Dawn French's Boy's Who Do Comedy Regular
2007 The Big Fat Anniversary Quiz Contestant
2007 Jack Dee Up Close Presenter
2008 Happy Birthday Brucie Himself Guest
2008 The Comedy Map of Britain Himself
2008–2011 Shooting Stars Team captain
2009 Kingdom Judge Jeremey Harding Guest role
2010 Let's Dance for Sport Relief Guest judge
2010 Channel 4's Comedy Gala Performer
2010 A Comedy Roast Roaster
2010 Fry & Laurie Reunited Himself Guest
2011 24 Hour Panel People Himself
2011 Wall of Fame Team captain
2011 My Favourite Joke Himself 5 episodes
2013 Jack Dee So What: Live Himself
2014— Josh Geoff Main cast
2015 Alternative Election Night Himself Panellist
2015–2016 Jack Dee's Helpdesk Presenter
2015 The Apprentice: You're Fired! Presenter Series 11
2016 Power Monkeys Oliver Main cast
2017–2018 Bad Move Steve Main cast, 6 episodes

Personal life

Dee met Susan Jane Hetherington in 1986, when he was working as a waiter in Fulham and she was a receptionist at a nearby hotel.[15] They married in Winchester, Hampshire, in 1989.[16] Together, they have four children.[16]

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".[17]

In his twenties, Dee worked at the Ritz in London and started drinking heavily. He attended church and attempted to become a priest. After he realised that was not for him he gave it up, and never quit drinking, although he would later describe his condition as "alcohol abuse" rather than alcoholism, which was the diagnosis at the time.[18] Since the 1990s, he has advertised John Smith's Bitter, becoming known as "the midget with the widget". 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.[19]

In 2007, the Daily Express reported that he was in negotiations with publishers to release his autobiography.[20] 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.[21] 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."[22]

In February 2009, Dee and several other entertainers wrote an open letter to The Times supporting Bahá'í leaders, then on trial in Iran.[23]

Dee is also a director of Open Mike Productions, which he also co-founded with Addison Cresswell,[24] which produces shows for television and radio including Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow and Alan Carr: Chatty Man.

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 At The Apollo (18 November 2002)
  • Live Again (14 November 2005)
  • So What? Live (18 November 2013)

See also


  1. "Loose Ends". Loose Ends. 24 October 2009. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. Bassett, Kate (24 May 1997). "Mr Deadpan loosens up". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  3. "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  4. BBC Comedy Guide: Jack Dee; accessed 14 August 2006.
  5. Dee, Jack. Thanks For Nothing. Doubleday, 2009, pp. 133-34, 171.
  6. Cavendish, Lucy (23 October 2006). "Now I don't need to be drunk to be happy". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2007.
  7. 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.
  8. Jack Dee, Mark Lawson (3 October 2006). Mark Lawson Talks to Jack Dee (TV-series). BBC Four.
  9. Flett, Kathryn (29 February 2004). "The ups and downs of pros and cons". The Observer. London, UK. Retrieved 14 August 2006.
  10. "BBC - Press Office - Britain's Best Sitcom top 10". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  11. Byrne, Ciar (26 January 2006). "Dee writes BBC's answer to "Curb Your Enthusiasm"". The Independent. London, UK. Archived from the original on 14 September 2006. Retrieved 14 August 2006.
  12. "Jack Dee on Twitter".
  13. "Fry, Brydon, Dee to host 'Clue' return". digitalspy.co.uk. 25 February 2009.
  14. Jack Dee to host Radio 4's Clue, bbc.co.uk; accessed 5 November 2016.
  15. Farndale, Nigel (23 November 2009). "The unshine boy: Jack Dee interview". The Daily Telegraph. London: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  16. Barfoot, Paul. "There's more to funny fella Jack Dee than just deadpan wit". BBC Entertainment. BBC. Archived from the original on 3 May 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  17. The unshine boy: Jack Dee interview, telegraph.co.uk; accessed 5 November 2016.
  18. Wark, Penny (8 March 2002). "Jack Dee: a seriously funny man". The Times.
  19. Billen, Andrew (17 February 2004). "Politics? I'd rather talk about God". The Times.
  20. Spencer, Kathryn (4 January 2007). "Jack's back in bid to sell his life story". Daily Express.
  21. "It's his autobiograph-Dee". Chortle. 4 December 2008.
  22. Thair, David (8 May 2009). "HIGNFY Guest Host interview: Jack Dee". BBC Comedy Blog.
  23. Bremner, Charles; Robertson, David (26 February 2009). "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, UK.
  24. Richardson, Jay (24 September 2012). "Interview: Jack Dee, stand-up comedian". The Scotsman.
Preceded by
Celebrity Big Brother UK winner
Series 1 (2001)
Succeeded by
Mark Owen
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