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From prison to politics.

Byline: BY ROZ LAWS

ON SONG: James performs as Robert Palmer FAMILY MAN: with wife Debbie and daughter Cate at four months old

LOSING a General Election has its advantages, as actor James Gaddas has discovered.

The Bad Girls star stood as a Conservative candidate in his native north-east constituency of Stockton South. He came second but received 15,000 votes and reduced the Labour majority by 3,000.

And on returning to his London home, he was greeted by his five-year-old daughter saying: 'I'm sorry you lost your contest Daddy, but you can spend more time with me now.'

His defeat is also good news for the millions of Bad Girls fans. If James had become an MP, he would have had to pull out of the hit series. As it was, he had a hard job canvassing and filming the part of prison governor Neil Grayling.

James says: 'I had to make a difficult decision last July about whether to stand as a candidate, not knowing when the election would be and whether it would clash with Bad Girls.

'I think that governments should run for a full term and not be allowed to go to the country when it suits them, when the figures look good.

'I couldn't give up Bad Girls as I have to pay the mortgage. So I spent weeks going up and down the country - I was on the train every other day.

'At least I saw my mum a lot. I'd take lots of clean clothes with me but she'd still wash them!

'Canvassing was interesting. Some people would ask for my autograph or want to talk about what's going to happen in Bad Girls, then say 'I'm not voting for you, though'.

'But not everyone recognised me. One elderly man opened his door and, when he saw my rosette, slammed it again with the words 'I'm voting for a fellow called Gaddas'.

'I was quite chuffed by the result, although when it came everyone was half asleep. Stockton South usually declares by 1.30am but this year it didn't come until 6.30am, so we'd been waiting around for eight hours.

'It is a Labour stronghold so I didn't really expect to win, although I would have given up acting if I had. I'd miss it but I still want to become an MP and I hope to stand again.

'We need politicians who keep their promises. One of the things that made me stand was Labour saying they wouldn't introduce top-up fees and then doing just that. I have no time for the Liberal Democrats but at least they were honest about putting up taxes.'

James doesn't share too many views with Governor Grayling, who he describes as 'a New Labour type'.

'He's always giving people the benefit of the doubt and likes to be seen as progressive and helping the women. I'm not as easy-going as he is.'

The one fly in Grayling's ointment is Jim Fenner. Grayling and Karen Betts proved he had framed Betts for a hit-and-run death and Bad Girls began last week with Fenner behind bars.

But he is freed after setting up someone else for the crime. And this week he gets his old job back by blackmailing Grayling, accusing the gay governor of raping him.

'That did confuse me,' says James. 'Fenner had already accused me of sexual harassment but the charges were dropped when he went to prison. Surely now he's out, they'd decide I was guilty and Fenner wouldn't be able to blackmail me?

'But you can't look too closely at some of the Bad Girls storylines, which are wonderfully over the top. It's Jacobean TV - I'm sure it's what Webster would be doing if he wrote now.

'Everyone asks whether Fenner will finally get his comeuppance. I think they felt cheated by him getting banged up. They won't rest until he's properly punished - and that means being hung, drawn and quartered.'

James has been married to Deborah for seven years. They were supposed to meet when friends arranged a blind date but she stood him up. He asked her out again and, after dating for three years, he proposed in a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice.

When James first joined Bad Girls, Deborah hated the thought of him having sex scenes with his female co-stars.

'So she was over the moon to discover Neil is gay! Sometimes our daughter says 'What are you doing at work today Daddy?' and I say 'You don't want to know!'.

'When I was on Stars In Their Eyes, I asked her if she had any advice for me. She said 'Yes, don't dance'. She's only five and I'm already embarrassing her with my 'dad dancing'!'

WHO ARE YOU?

NAME: James Gaddas

AGE: 44

FAMILY: James has a five-year-old daughter, Cate, with his dancer wife Deborah.

APPEARS ON: Bad Girls, ITV1, Tuesdays.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: James's TV break was in Medics, he spent six months in Birmingham making the BBC police drama Backup and played barman and builder Vinny Sorrell in Coronation Street. Vinny cheated on Natalie (Denise Welch) with her sister Debs (Gabrielle Glaister). He has also sung on Abbamania and Stars In Their Eyes (as Robert Palmer).

FANCY THAT: James's father Tom was a wrestler who fought under the name Earl Warwick.

AND ANOTHER THING: One of James's first jobs was a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-

Avon. He remembers: 'I thought people were joking when they said they were just a spear-carrier. But my first role was carrying a hunting spear in King Lear. Still, I didn't complain about being on the same stage as Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi, Anthony Sher and Jenny Agutter.'

CAPTION(S):

TAKE THAT: disgraced Jim Fenner loses his temper with governor Neil Grayling TEAM WORK: James Gaddas, third right, with his Backup colleagues
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 15, 2005
Words:981
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