Jimmy Nail

James Michael Aloysius Bradford (born 16 March 1954), known as Jimmy Nail, is an English singer-songwriter, actor, film producer, and television writer. He is known for his role as Leonard "Oz" Osborne in the hit television show Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, his title role in Spender, and his 1992 number one single, "Ain't No Doubt".

Jimmy Nail
James Michael Aloysius Bradford

(1954-03-16) 16 March 1954
OccupationMusician, singer-songwriter, actor
Years active1983–2004, 2008–2009, 2012–present
Spouse(s)Miriam Jones
Children2 sons
Musical career
GenresPop, rock, soul, country
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
LabelsVirgin, East West, Papillon
Associated actsGary Holton, Mark Knopfler, Sting, Guy Pratt

Early life

James Michael Aloysius Bradford was born in Newcastle upon Tyne to father Jimmy and mother Laura.[1] His father was an Irish Catholic shipyard worker, amateur boxer, and professional footballer. He describes himself as an angry kid who was expelled from secondary school for setting fire to curtains. When he was 13, his sister, Shelagh, died at the age of 20.[1] He later spent time drinking, fighting, and generally rebelling against authority. He was involved in a fight after a football match and was sent to prison. After being released he worked in a glass factory. While opening a crate of glass he stood on a six-inch spike that went through his foot and thereafter was called "Nail",[1] a name he later adopted professionally. Also at that time he played guitar in a rock band called the King Crabs.[2] His sister Val McLane was a successful actress and later became Head of Drama at Sunderland University.[1]



Nail's partner, Miriam, encouraged him to audition for a television show, and although he had no experience as an actor.[2] he won the role of Leonard Jeffrey "Oz" Osborne on Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, an ITV comedy drama about construction workers on the job, first in Germany, then Spain, the US, Cuba and finally Thailand. The show made him famous.[3]

In 2000 he began work on reviving the Auf Wiedersehen, Pet series, this time for the BBC. It was filmed in Middlesbrough and Arizona in 2001 and aired in 2002, with audience figures of 13 million. Another series saw the brickies holed up in Havana, and the final two-hour instalment, set in Laos, broadcast over Christmas 2004 attracting over seven million viewers. In 2013, members of the cast (though not Nail) returned to Newcastle to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the show's beginning.[4] It continues to be held in high esteem and was recently voted the Most Popular Television Drama Series of all time in a poll conducted by the Radio Times.

After the first two series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Nail found himself typecast before creating the detective series Spender, which he co-wrote with Ian La Frenais. The show ran for three series from 1990 to 1993 and also produced a tele-film and a novel. This was followed in 1994 by Crocodile Shoes, which Nail also created, scripted and starred as songwriter Jed Shepherd.

In 2008, Nail created and starred as Phil Parker in Parents of the Band, a 6 x 30 mins series on BBC1, broadcast between November 2008 and January 2009. The series revolves around a group of teenagers who form a band just for their own enjoyment, and their parents, who fully expect them to be the next Led Zeppelin. Ratings were disappointing, around three million, and there was no second series.


Although he made his living through acting, Nail's first love was music. He had pop hits with "Ain't No Doubt", co-written written by Nail, Danny Schogger, Guy Pratt and Charlie Dore, "Crocodile Shoes", and "Love Don't Live Here Anymore".[1] His album Growing Up in Public (east/west 1992) featured Gary Moore, David Gilmour, Elliot Randall and George Harrison. Crocodile Shoes (East West, 1994) was based on the BBC television series of the same name, in which he played an English country songwriter. The album sold more than one million copies in the UK.[5] Big River featured guitarist Mark Knopfler. Ten Great Songs and an OK Voice (Papillion, 2001) included cover versions of "Walking on the Moon" by The Police, "Something" by the Beatles, and "Overjoyed" by Stevie Wonder. Nail sang on the film soundtracks for Evita and Still Crazy.

With Tim Healy, Nail created the Sammy Johnson Memorial Fund, in memory of their friend and colleagues, established to help young talent in North East England. To aid this, he participated in the Sunday for Sammy benefit concerts, until workload forced him to resign from the board. 2020 will see the concerts’ 20th anniversary. It has recently relocated from the 2000-capacity Newcastle City Hall to the 5000-capacity Newcastle Arena.

Theatre and film

Nail came out of retirement to act and sing in The Last Ship, a musical by Sting about the shipbuilders of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the hometown of both Nail and Sting. Sting grew up in Wallsend, down the street from the shipyards. Nail worked in the shipyards and is the son of a shipyard foreman. The show opened in Chicago. On Broadway, when ticket sales began to drop, Sting replaced Nail to try to save the musical, but it ended after a short run. Nail sang on the Original Broadway Cast Recording and on Sting's album, The Last Ship.[6][7][8][9][10]

He had been due to reprise his role in the UK premiere at Northern Stage on 12 March 2018. The show's producer Karl Sydow stated: "After protracted negotiations carried out in good faith, we regret to announce the production's offer of employment to Jimmy Nail has been withdrawn. Joe McGann will replace him when the show opens in Newcastle in March. Nail said "I was very much looking forward to appearing in Sting's The Last Ship, particularly here in my home city, Sadly that's not to be." Nail played Parson Nathaniel in War of the Worlds alongside David Essex at the Dominion Theatre, London in 2016.[11]

He played gamekeeper "Rabbetts" in Danny, the Champion of the World, based on the novel of the same name by Roald Dahl.[12]


In 2004, Nail successfully sued News Group Newspapers and Harper Collins Publishers. The lawsuit concerned false and defamatory allegations made two years before in an article in News of the World and Nailed, a biography which was the newspaper's source for the claims. He described reading the article as one of the worst experiences of his life.[13][14] He reportedly received damages of £30,000.[13]

Awards and honours

His work has resulted in five BAFTA nominations (three in total for A.W.P., one for Spender, one for Crocodile Shoes), a Golden Globe nomination (Best Original Song – "Still Crazy"), an Ivor Novello nomination (for "Ain't No Doubt") and numerous other awards and nominations.

Personal life

Nail married Miriam Jones. They have two boys, Tommy and Freddie, and live in London.[1]

Selected filmography



Own projects

  • Spender (1991–93) – actor, writer, producer, creator
  • Crocodile Shoes (1994) – actor, writer, executive producer, creator
  • Crocodile Shoes II (1996) – actor, writer, executive producer, title music composer, creator
  • Parents of the Band (2008–09) – actor, creator, executive producer, title music composer



  1. Dent-Robinson, Nick (25 August 2015). "Jimmy Nail – Interview". Pennyblackmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  2. Courtney, Kevin (10 December 2011). "Jimmy Nail, singer and actor". The Irish Times. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  3. "Jimmy Nail - Interview". Pennyblackmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  4. "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet's 30th anniversary celebrated on Tyneside". BBC News. 21 September 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  5. Bush, John. "Jimmy Nail | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  6. Weinert-kendt, Rob (15 October 2014). "Sting and Jimmy Nail on the Musical 'The Last Ship'". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  7. Graff, Amy (27 January 2015). "Sting: 'I betrayed my best friend Jimmy Nail to save my musical'". Daily Dish. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  8. McLean, Craig (13 October 2013). "Sting interview: 'Criticism is part of the job'". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  9. "The Last Ship (Original Broadway Cast Recording)". Sting.com. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  10. Semmes, Anne W. (28 April 2015). "Greenwich's Rob Mathes receives his first Tony Award nomination..." sting.com. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  11. "Casting announced for The War of the Worlds". Whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  12. "Jimmy Nail". Drama Faces. BBC. March 2005. Retrieved 1 October 2010.
  13. "Libel payout for actor Jimmy Nail". news.bbc.co.uk. 26 March 2004. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  14. Gibson, Owen (26 March 2004). "Nail wins libel battle". The Guardian.


  • Larkin, Colin. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 3rd edition, Macmillan, 1998.
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