Paul Nicholas is perhaps best known for his BAFTA-nominated lead role in the 80s sitcom Just Good Friends, but a fledgling pop career in the 1960s brought him into contact with a pre-fame David Bowie.
In the early 1960s, Paul – now 68 – was trying to make it as a pop star under the name Oscar when he recorded the novelty song Over The Wall, written by a young man from Beckenham.
Paul - who is set to direct, produce and act in Blockbuster the Musical, which premieres at The Orchard Theatre in Dartford on September 11 – said: “When I was about 19, I was trying to have a hit record and I met this guy called David Jones.
“He was a songwriter. At that time there were a lot of jailbreaks going on and it was a national joke that all these prisoners kept escaping.
“He had written as song called Over the Wall We Go, All Coppers and Nanas.
“I recorded it and it got banned by the BBC.
“It wasn’t a hit but you can see it on Youtube.
“He came to the session and he’s actually on the record. He does a bit of talking in the middle of it.
“He was quite intense, I remember. He was quite into mime, and I think he is quite a good mime artist. He wasn’t well known then.
“Of course, he went on to have a fantastic career so his intenseness obviously paid off, while I was laughing and having a fag.”
Although the song wasn’t a hit, Paul did go on to have three top 20 hits in the mid 1970s.
More successful still was his stage career. Alongside Elaine Paige, he was the first part of the first British couple to play the lead roles in Grease; he was the original Rum Tum Tugger in Cats and the first Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar in the West End in 1972.
A familiar face from TV, Paul starred Just Good Friends, Bust and Close to Home in the 1980s and has been a fixture on TV screens since.
He has also produced a number of big nationwide touring plays, including Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
His latest show, Blockbuster the Musical, features the songs of the 70s and 80s songwriting duo Chinn and Chapman.
Paul is directing, producing and playing the part of record shop owner Crazy Max.
He said: “It is interesting because it all stops with you. If it all goes wrong, I just look in the mirror and say ‘it’s your fault’.”
Blockbuster the Musical is at The Orchard Theatre from September 11 to 20. Go to orchardtheatre.com or call 01322 220000.
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