Paul James. Born 19th July 1947 in Gravesend, Kent is a British comedian, actor, producer and radio presenter. Known as ‘PJ the DJ’ to his fans, he was one of the most famous voices on BBC Radio Kent for 28 years.
Paul started his show business career at the age of 11 singing with his next door neighbour Pat Barham. They were known as the ‘2P’s’.
Paul attended Southfields Secondary School and went on to the Gravesend Art School studying commercial art. While there, he joined a group called ‘The Soundcasters’ and toured with many of the 60’s top bands such as ‘The Kinks’ and ‘Mojo’s’.
Working with The Beatles
After leaving art school, he was employed by Brian Epstein and The Beatles empire N.E.M.S as a general dogs body collecting guitars, opening fan mail and taking the band to the TV studios where they were recording ‘Ready, Steady, Go’.
After leaving N.E.M.S, he joined the arts department of VOX Amplifiers and then the advertising office of The Gravesend and Dartford Reporter Newspaper. It was after this stint he became self employed, opening a fancy goods shop called ‘Image’ and the first discotheque in Kent with his partner Brian Belt.
In 1969 he turned professional when he was offered a job at Pontins, Bracklesham Bay as a Bluecoat; a job that would change his life. After three years he was to become the youngest Entertainments Manager of any holiday camp in the UK. It was during this time he met two very influential people, the famous music hall comedian Jimmy Wheeler and the holiday camp band leader Roy Denny.
Jimmy convinced him to forget about being a singer/guitarist and to turn his hand to comedy. Roy taught him all the secrets of being a good cabaret act and became Paul’s musical director.
Paul and Roy were employed by Gravesham Borough Council to write, direct and star in a Christmas show called ’Christmas Crackers’ at The Woodville Theatre in Gravesend, Kent. It was a successful venture that lasted three years.
Frank Mansell, the booker for Butlins Holiday Camps poached him away from Pontins and the relationship spanned ten years. He was employed to be a principal comedian for their variety shows in the Gaitey Theatres at Bognor Regis, Minehead, Clackton on Sea and Skegness.
TV, Radio and Live Theatre
In 1985 Paul appeared on TVs Thames Telethon, the first charity programme (before Children in Need) and a year later appeared on Granada TVs ‘New Faces’.
In 1985 he also started working for BBC Radio Kent; a radio career that would last for 28 years presenting most of Radio Kent’s flagship programmes. Paul James or “PJ the DJ” to his listeners was the voice of Saturday and Sunday radio. He played the great music of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and shared stories of meeting and working with the stars of those eras. Paul co-presented the show for 13 years with his dear friend Paul Harris.
He has appeared in over 30 pantomimes and Summer seasons and was honoured twice to perform at the world famous London Palladium.
Paul has toured the world working for P&O Cruises, MEEPA entertainments in the Middle East and C.S.E entertaining our servicemen and women.
Paul is currently part of a double act called ‘Just the Two of Us’ and is partnered with singer Gary O’Connor singing all the great harmony songs from the 50’s.
For 12 years, South Downs Holiday Centre in Bracklesham Bay hosted ‘The Paul James Party Weekends’, a weekend full of great cabarets and lots of laughter. Sadly the centre closed down in 2017 and thus brought an end to that venture.
From 2009-2019, Paul worked at Brick Lane Music Hall in London as a principal comedian.