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Unlucky Jim is out of cash

PUBLISHED: 09:50 07 July 2006 | UPDATED: 11:10 22 October 2010

Jim Davidson, pictured in front of the Wellington Pier in Yarmouth, The troubled comic has been declared bankrupt.

Jim Davidson, pictured in front of the Wellington Pier in Yarmouth, The troubled comic has been declared bankrupt.

For 50 years, comedian Jim Davidson has been coming to Yarmouth - first as a boy on family holidays, then as the main draw on its famous Golden Mile. There have been sticky patches in the relationship, but for a man who has come through four divorces and a well-publicised battle against the bottle, that might only be expected.

For 50 years, comedian Jim Davidson has been coming to Yarmouth - first as a boy on family holidays, then as the main draw on its famous Golden Mile.

There have been sticky patches in the relationship, but for a man who has come through four divorces and a well-publicised battle against the bottle, that might only be expected.

But this summer the self-styled Crafty Cockney may finally have to turn his back on the seaside resort for good after being declared bankrupt yesterday.

Scheduled dates at the Britannia Pier theatre in August may well be his last, after the comedian hinted that his failure to come up with £400,000 a year to pay back the £1.4m owed to the taxman might necessitate a career change.

The fortunes of the 52-year-old have in many ways mirrored those of Yarmouth.

He rose to eminence on the back of what would now be deemed unacceptable humour in the more-forgiving 1970s, and his cheeky chappy personality and unabashed patriotism made him a big-name entertainer during the 1980s.

In 1986 he became the patron of Caister lifeboat station and has worked tirelessly ever since, raising money on its behalf.

He also set up the British Forces Foundation in 1999 and was made an OBE in 2001 for services to charity.

Riding high on television success with Big Break and The Generation Game, he took over Yarmouth's failing Wellington Pier and theatre in 1995 on a 25-year rent-free lease.

He promised to turn it round but only invested £500,000, pulling out in 2002 as falling visitor numbers to the town matched his fall from grace on national television.

Yesterday, friends in Norfolk were standing by the comic, whose financial problems started at the time he relinquished ownership of the Wellington.

That coincided with him leaving the BBC's primetime Saturday show The Generation Game, losing a significant portion of his income, and negotiating expensive divorce from fourth wife Tracy Hilton.

Mr Davidson's love/hate relationship with Yarmouth reached rock bottom in 2003, describing the town as "full of overweight people in flip flops and fat children of all colours and no class".

But since then he has returned each year - raising more money for Caister lifeboat and making efforts to appear conciliatory.

Neither Mr Davidson, who now lives in Dubai, nor his agent, Chris Shaw, could be contacted by the EDP yesterday.

But in an interview with the BBC, the comic said he had been performing two UK tours a year to maintain annual repayments but no longer felt he was able to continue touring the same areas.

"You cannot keep going back to the same theatres," he said. "I don't want the taxman to put me in a position where my career looks as if it's failing - because it isn't. I wanted to pay off my debts - I still do. I have paid the majority off. The taxman has forced me into this position, that's why I feel angry rather than sad and disappointed."

Mr Davidson's publicist did, however, confirm that his two nights in Yarmouth this year, on August 12 and 19, would still be going ahead.

And John Cannell, spokesman for Caister lifeboat, said Mr Davidson was still very welcome in Norfolk.

"Jim has always been a good friend of the lifeboat station and a personal friend to many of the crew," he said.

"No matter what his financial problems, there's no doubt he will be around the station, as he always is.

"He has raised a lot of money for the lifeboat and for the British Forces Foundation charity, which he set up. He's a very generous guy and I can't see him stopping that."

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