Jack Dee, Norwich

It was standing room only – literally – as Jack Dee provided one of the true highlights of the EDP Comedy Festival.

By JOHN LAWSON

It was standing room only – literally – as Jack Dee provided one of the true highlights of the EDP Comedy Festival.

Such was the demand that the Theatre Royal, Norwich, had even sold the 20 standing places its licence allows – along with the boxes which are usually only used by distinguished guests.

Fans were queuing for returns to see the new Jack on his first national tour for four years. The new Jack is cuddly, devoted husband and father, caring and sharing Jack – his originally gruff and cynical stage persona demolished forever following his perform-ance on Celebrity Big Brother.

He still maintains the slightly-sneering, stone-faced delivery which has been his trademark for more than a decade, but we now know that beneath it lurks a heart of gold – and his fans love him all the more.

He moves seamlessly from one subject to another in a well- constructed programme: slimming, children, computers, the NHS, laundry were all covered, along with little local touches.

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He used laughter at his own expense following a prostate-illness scare to get over the message that men should check for so-called “embarrassing” illnesses.

Big Brother, which could have formed a considerable part of his routine had he been a more self-indulgent performer, was scarcely mentioned. And while there was a sprinkling of four-letter words, Dee performed for close on two hours without the need to resort to blue or offensive gags. Refreshing indeed.

t Dee is on tour until the end of December – catch him at Ipswich Regent (November 28) or Cambridge Corn Exchange (December 13-15).

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