Jimmy Nail

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Jimmy Nail
Birth name James Michael Aloysius Bradford
Born (1954-03-16) 16 March 1954 (age 63)
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Genres Pop, rock, soul, country
Occupation(s) Actor, singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1983–2004, 2008-2009, 2012-2015
Labels Virgin, East West, Papillion
Associated acts Gary Holton, Mark Knopfler, Sting, Guy Pratt

Jimmy Nail (born 16 March 1954) 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".

Early life[edit]

Nail was born James Michael Aloysius Bradford in Newcastle upon Tyne to father Jimmy and mother Laura.[1] His father was an Irish Catholic shipyard worker, amateur boxer, and professional footballer (soccer, in North America). He describes himself as an angry, uncivilized kid who was expelled from secondary school for setting fire to curtains. When he was 13, his older sister, Shelagh, died at the age of 20.[1] Feeling lost and confused, he spent time drinking, fighting, and rebelling against authority. He got into a fight after a football match and was sent to prison. After prison he worked in a glass factory. While sweeping 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 other sister Valerie is now Head of Drama at Sunderland University.[1]



Nail's wife, Miriam, encouraged him to audition for a television show, though he had no experience as an actor.[2] He won the role of Leonard Jeffrey "Oz" Osborne on Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, a situation comedy about construction workers on the job in the U.S., Germany, Spain, and Cuba. The show turned him into a celebrity.[3] In 2013, members of the cast returned to Newcastle to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the show's beginning.[4]

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]

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.[citation needed]

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]


Although he made a living through acting, his first love was music. He had pop hits with "Ain't No Doubt", written by 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, and George Harrison. Crocodile Shoes (East West, 1994) was based on the BBC television series of the same name, in which he played a medicore country singer. The album sold nearly one millon copies in Great Britain.[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. He sang on the film soundtracks for Evita and Still Crazy.

He 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.

Theatre and film[edit]

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]

Nail played Parson Nathaniel in War of the Worlds at the Dominion Theatre, London in 2016.[11]

He appeared with Madonna and Antonio Banderas in the film Evita (1996), directed by Alan Parker and adapted from the musical. Two years later, he co-starred in the film Still Crazy.

He played the role of gamekeeper Rabbetts in the film 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, a British newspaper, 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 honors[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

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

Selected filmography[edit]



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. ^ a b c d e f Dent-Robinson, Nick (25 August 2015). "Jimmy Nail - Interview". www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Courtney, Kevin (10 December 2011). "Jimmy Nail, singer and actor". The Irish Times. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  3. ^ http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/MagSitePages/Article/8027/Jimmy-Nail-Interview
  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. ^ "Sting.com > Discography > The Last Ship (Original Broadway Cast Recording)". www.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. ^ a b "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.

External links[edit]