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Dee, Jack (1961-)

Actor, Writer, Presenter

Main image of Dee, Jack (1961-)

A famously deadpan comedian whose lugubrious, knowing delivery has seen him compared to a more compact version of Tony Hancock, Jack Dee is possibly still best known for having popularised the word 'widget' via an award-winning series of commercials for John Smith's Bitter.

He was born on the 24th September, 1961 and began his career as a jobbing stand-up comedian, winning the British Comedy Award for Best Stage Newcomer in 1991, which secured him a TV series, The Jack Dee Show (Channel 4, 1992-4). Unlike most of his contemporaries, who relied on sketches and supporting actors, Dee was the sole star, typically delivering straight-faced rants about modern life. Similar programmes followed, including Jack Dee's Sunday Service (Channel 4, 1997) and Happy Hour (BBC, 2000-1), the latter of which Dee summed up by saying "It's not happy, and it doesn't last an hour."

As an actor, Dee has had some success in a mixture of roles. He originated the part of the ghastly, fitness-obsessed Doug Digby in The Grimleys (ITV, 1997) and had effective straight parts (arguably not that different from his deadpan persona) in Silent Witness (BBC, 1999) and Dalziel and Pascoe (BBC, 2002). He was also acclaimed for his performance as a manipulative politician in The Deputy (BBC, 2004).

However, his most iconic appearance was in the first series of Celebrity Big Brother. Unlike his fellow housemates Vanessa Feltz and Anthea Turner, who seemed profoundly troubled by the experience, Dee played to the gallery and established himself as a credible, likeable figure. He ultimately won, and in doing so, helped ensure the continuation of what was originally intended as a one-off charity event.

Alexander Larman

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