The Repair Shops Jay Blade reveals taking acting advice from Dawn French

He's used to giving things a second lease of life on The Repair Shop – and now Jay Blades is revamping his career by taking acting lessons on the advice of Dawn French.

The furniture restorer turned TV presenter met the funnywoman when he starred in a skit with her and double act partner Jennifer Saunders.

Jay says: “After we did Comic Relief, acting is something I spoke to Dawn French about and she said she thought I’d be really good at it, so I’m having one-to-one lessons.”

He got a video message from his idol David Jason when he jived to the Only Fools And Horses theme tune on last year’s Strictly Christmas special.

So would he ever like to act in a remake of the telly classic?

He laughs: “You know that answer – that’s a big fat yes. My bottom lip went when David came out of retirement to send me a message. I haven’t met him yet but am in contact with him through his wife.

“I’d never say never to doing a full series of Strictly either, but right now my schedule is insane.”

Del Boy and Rodney’s rags-to-riches story echoes some of the challenges Jay himself has faced to get where he is today.

From a humble council estate upbringing, the 52-year-old hit rock bottom when his furniture restoration charity for disadvantaged young people failed.

Suffering from a breakdown, he disappeared from home for a week.

His life turned a corner when another businessman took him under his wing, which led to the BBC seeing a video about his charity and offering him presenting opportunities.

Last week Jay was presented with an MBE at Windsor Castle by Prince Charles, for whose Prince’s Trust charity he is an ambassador.

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Jay says: “He’s a really cool geezer and so passionate about crafts. It was someone from the council estate and someone from the royal estate coming together.

“I didn’t take him anything up-cycled or for the Queen’s Jubilee – they have enough.

“I see myself as a glorified community worker. You don’t have to have the abs and Love Island smile to make it.”

While he might be one of the most in-demand hosts on the box, Jay is determined to continue giving back to communities.

He’s teamed up with adhesive brand Loctite, which is hosting free Second Chance Shops this month with upcycling and repair workshops, upcycled items to buy, food and drink made from food waste and donations going to their charity partner IMPAKT.

He said: “Throwaway culture is unsustainable. Loctite research found on average British households currently have four broken items sitting around the house with 38% destined for landfill.

“If upcycled, households could save £176 a year, which is more important than ever with the cost of living rising.”

The event will give Jay a chance to meet his fans, something he relishes, adding: “Everybody loves what I do because I’m promoting sustainability.

“On my book tour this week I met a lady with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair who stood up for 10 minutes and gave me a hug. It really humbles you talking to people.”

Even with The Repair Shop returning for a new series this week, Jay has no plans to slow down.

But he vows to only take on telly jobs he truly believes in, adding: “Something really big is happening next week, which I’m over the moon about – it’s going to make a change in society.

“Offers come in but I’m all about empowering people so if it’s not along those lines I’m not interested – call a taxi and I’ll get in it.”

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