Jimmy Nail

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Jimmy Nail
Birth name James Michael Aloysius Bradford[1]
Born 1954 (age 61–62)
Benton, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Genres Soul, pop rock, rock and roll, country
Occupation(s) Actor, composer, guitarist, screenwriter, singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1983–2004, 2008–2009, 2012–present
Labels Virgin/London/Warner
Associated acts Gary Holton, Mark Knopfler, Sting

Jimmy Nail (born 1954)[2] is an English singer-songwriter, actor, musician, film producer, film score composer and television writer.

He has starred in numerous roles on television since 1983. He is most famous 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".

Early life[edit]

Nail was born James Michael Aloysius Bradford in Benton, Newcastle upon Tyne to Laura (née Johnson) and James Bradford. His father, a shipyard worker, amateur boxer and professional footballer, was of Irish Catholic extraction.[2] He had two elder sisters: Shelagh (who died in 1967)[citation needed] and Val McLane, who starred with him in the second series of Auf Wiedersehen Pet.


Nail rose to fame playing Leonard Jeffrey "Oz" Osborne in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet in 1983, despite having little acting experience (he had appeared as an extra in the film Get Carter). Nail has also starred in a number of films and had a long musical career, having been a singer before he was picked out at an audition to play "Oz".

In 1985, he made a cameo appearance in the mini-series Master of the Game, based on Sidney Sheldon's novel, as the scheming errand boy Schmidt. In 1989, he appeared as head gamekeeper Rabbetts in the film adaptation of the Roald Dahl book Danny, the Champion of the World.[3]

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 1991 to 1993 and also produced a tele-film and a novel. This was followed in 1994 by Crocodile Shoes, which he also created and starred as musician Jed Shepherd. After working with Madonna and Antonio Banderas in Alan Parker's Evita (1996), he co-starred in Clement & La Frenais' film Still Crazy (1998). A song from the movie, "The Flame Still Burns", sung by Nail, was nominated for a Golden Globe.

In 2000 he began work on reviving the Auf Wiedersehen, Pet series, this time for the BBC. It was filmed in 2001 and aired in 2002, with audience figures of over 12 million. Another series saw the brickies holed up in Cuba, and the final two-hour instalment, set in Laos, aired over Christmas 2004 attracting over 7 million viewers.[citation needed] He released a number of albums of his own compositions, the first being Take It Or Leave It (1986) Growing Up in Public (1992), which contained the song "Laura" which he wrote for his mother (and featured among others Gary Moore, David Gilmour and George Harrison) and the last being Tadpoles in a Jar in 1999.[citation needed] His Big River album of 1995 sold over a million copies. Mark Knopfler plays guitar on title tracks, a compliment that was repaid with an important plot reference to Oz's being a fan of Dire Straits in the third (revived) series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (2002).[citation needed]

In 2001 Nail released an album of cover songs, Ten Great Songs and an OK Voice. The album contained different versions of songs such as "Walking on the Moon" (The Police), "Something" (George Harrison) and "Overjoyed" (Stevie Wonder). 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.

Nail successfully sued NCJ, who publish the North East England newspapers The Journal, Evening Chronicle, and Sunday Sun for following a series of allegations relating to Nail's on-set behaviour during production on the third series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.[4]

In 2004, Nail successfully sued the News of the World for defamation (Nail v News Group Newspapers Limited, 20 December 2004)[why?] and subsequently received damages of £30,000. In 2005, his autobiography, A Northern Soul, was published in the UK by Penguin Books.

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 nothing less than the next Led Zeppelin. Ratings were disappointing, around the three million mark, and there are presently no plans for a second series.[citation needed]

Nail was reported to be working on Sting's musical as of February 2012, The Last Ship, which is based on the closure of a shipyard in Nail's hometown. On 6 and 7 February 2012 the musical was showcased in rough form. According to an article in the Telegraph Nail had "ostensibly retired" prior to working on the musical.[5]

Nail was actively involved in the Sammy Johnson Memorial Fund, 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. Nail appeared on the NBC's The Today Show from New York on 24 September 2013 with Sting singing 'The Last Ship', and also broadcast on BBC Four on 27 April 2014.[citation needed]

From 10 June to 13 July 2014, he played the role of Jackie White in the Chicago try-out of "The Last Ship" at the Bank of America Theatre. The musical made the transition to Broadway in the fall, with previews beginning 30 September and an official opening night on 26 October at the Neil Simon Theater. Nail was replaced by Sting as Jackie White starting 9 December 2014 to raise falling ticket sales.[citation needed]

Nail played Parson Nathaniel in War of the Worlds at the Dominion Theatre, London in 2016.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Nail is 6'3" tall and a Newcastle United fan. He lives in London.[2]

A hardened drinker and a brawler, his nose has been broken five times. In one fight he got an axe wound in his head. After kicking a policeman in the face during a brawl on a football terrace, he spent four months in Strangeways Prison, Manchester.[2]


Television Shows in which he has appeared include:

Films in which he has appeared include:

Own projects[edit]

  • 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. ^ Biodata (including name at birth, irishtimes.com; accessed 10 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "Jimmy Nail - Interview". Pennyblackmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  3. ^ "Jimmy Nail". Drama Faces. BBC. March 2005. Retrieved 1 October 2010. 
  4. ^ "Actor Nail wins libel payout". BBC News. 16 December 2002. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Sting interview: 'Criticism is part of the job'". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  6. ^ "Casting announced for The War of the Worlds". Whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 


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

External links[edit]