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David Jason Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (131) | Personal Quotes (454) | Salary (2)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 2 February 1940Edmonton, London, England, UK
Birth NameDavid John White
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Sir David Jason was born in Edmonton, London, in 1940. He has become one of Britain's most famous and respected actors. He is a versatile actor who is most famously known for his role in Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) as Del Boy. He made his debut as DelBoy back in 1981 and was still playing the same role up to the Christmas special in 2002. His big break came in the 1967 children's comedy show Do Not Adjust Your Set (1967) starring alongside members of the Monty Python team: Terry Jones; Eric Idle, and Michael Palin.

Sadly, in 1990, he spent time away from work to nurse Myfanwy Talog, the Welsh actress who was his long time partner, before she died of cancer at the age of 49. He has come a long way from his days as an electrician and has won numerous awards for his work. He has managed to combine the comedy aspect of his career with rather more serious roles, such as that of Jack Frost in the highly-rated detective Series A Touch of Frost (1992) and has proved that he is a man of many talents. In the mid 1970s, he was convincingly made up as Blanco, an elderly prisoner, in episodes of Porridge (1974) with Ronnie Barker. He has also done voice work in children's TV.

He has not really concentrated on films, although he was very impressive in the TV film, All the King's Men (1999) in 1999, playing Frank Beck, the Commander of the Sandringham Company who mysteriously disappeared whilst in action in The Great War campaign in Gallipoli in 1915.

He lives in Buckinghamshire with his wife, Gill Hinchcliffe and their daughter, Sophie Mae, who was born in 2001. His hobbies are a little DIY and gardening.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Hasselbaink007

Spouse (1)

Gill Hinchcliffe (30 November 2005 - present) (1 child)

Trivia (131)

Younger brother of actor Arthur White, who appears in many episodes of A Touch of Frost (1992) with him.
Became a father for the 1st time at age 61 when his partner Gill Hinchcliffe gave birth to their daughter Sophie Mae White on 26 February 2001.
Worked as a self-employed electrician before becoming an actor, initially in the theatre and later moving to television.
Did not find out until age 14 that he had a twin brother who had died at birth.
He was considered for the role of Corporal Jones in the BBC series Dad's Army (1968), which eventually went to Clive Dunn.
Received two awards at the British Television Awards. He got the awards for "Britain's Best Actor" and "Britain's Best Comedy Actor".
After discovering that there was already a "David White" registered with Equity, he took the name "David Jason". It has long and popularly been rumoured that the name "Jason" came from his twin brother who had died in infancy. This is incorrect. His twin brother died without being named, and he chose "David Jason" as his stage name from his favourite book at school Jason and the Argonauts (1963).
Knighted in the Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Honours. He collected the award from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on 1 December 2005, having secretly married his long-term partner Gill Hinchcliffe at the Dorchester Hotel in London the day before. [2005]
He was awarded an O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of British Empire) for his services to drama.
Bob Monkhouse was enthusiastic about David Jason's comic potential and attempted to put together a pilot film for him called "Jason" in the late 1960s-early 1970s.
A qualified dive master, he was taught to dive in the Cayman Islands.
Appeared in juvenile court at the age of 14 for stealing lead. Ironically, in the Season 1 finale of Only Fools and Horses.... (1981), Del Boy steals three tons of lead, but for use as a fallout shelter. He then appeared in court when he was 18 for riding a motorbike without L-plates; he was fined 10 shillings.
Has worked as a teaboy and a grease monkey in a garage. He lost his enthusiasm for being a mechanic when during Winter, the cold always found its way up his overalls while under a car; his parents were very disappointed.
His first acting role was as a monkey in a primary school play at the age of 9, but his first lead role was in a Cromwellian play, Wayside War as a 17th Century Cavalier at the age of 14. He was forced to volunteer by the headmaster and wound up enjoying it. He then joined amateur theatre not long after and left it at the age of 25 - he joined just to pick up girls. The name of the acting troupe was "The Incognito Players", and he went on to be the most successful member; he was later asked to be a patron, which he accepted.
Didn't watch television until the age of 13, when he saw the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, she later knighted Jason. His family didn't hire a television until he was age 15, when ITV was first launched.
Attended Northside Junior School and than Northside Secondary Modern. He left school at the age of 15 to pursue acting.
Lots of his childhood clothes were hand-me-downs.
Penned his autobiography, My Life in 2013.
During World War II, a human arm landed on the roof of his childhood home; the family thought it was a chicken that would feed them for two meals.
Started smoking at the age of 14.
The first review of his work was "David White looked like a young James Cagney and played, though only 16, with the ease of a born actor". He still remembers it but thought it unlikely.
Born five months after the outbreak of World War II, he spent his infancy in war-torn North London, and lived at 26 Lodge Lane, Finchley. He was delivered at North Middlesex County Hospital. His childhood home is now a car park.
When he was 14, he worked as a grocery delivery boy at the local supermarket for almost no pay where he learned to ride a delivery bike. He always liked to ride a bike to work and home because it kept him at 8 stone and a 29 inch waist.
Although mostly known as a comic actor, this was not so at the beginning of his career. While in amateur theatre, he appeared in a production of "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams, and played one of Noah's sons, Ham ("the bad 'un").
A big fan of Ron Moody.
Once played a raven on stage and prepared for the role by studying raven behavior at the Tower of London. In the Season 6 premiere episode of Only Fools and Horses.... (1981), Del Boy mentions how he once had a job at the Tower of London.
Co-founded Topaz Productions in the late 1980s.
A big fan of Ruth Madoc.
His first experience of playing in the West End was as a pirate in a production of Peter Pan at the Strand; it was also his first experience of touring the country.
Learned to dive at the age of 18.
He went out with Phil Collins' sister when they were still unknowns. The first rock concert Jason went to was Genesis with Collins on drums and Peter Gabriel on vocals at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in 1974.
He first appeared on television in a BBC pantomime, Mother Goose (1965) on Boxing Day.
Although against illicit substances, he did smoke a joint for the first time when he was 40; it was his only one.
Was given advice by Jon Pertwee when first starting his acting career.
A mystic in the late 60s predicted he had a big future as an actor.
Turned down for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) when he was 27.
Has had a few brushes with death throughout his life, e.g. electrocution; drowning, etc.
One of the top leading men on British television, despite his diminutive stature.
Didn't do any televised drama until he was 26, when he had a recurring role on Crossroads (1964). Although the show has a bad reputation, he's defended it. After doing a guest spot, he was asked to become a regular but he declined because he didn't want to be tied down to playing just one character at this stage in his career.
His first public appearance with his changed name was on May 24th, 1965.
Quite timid as a boy.
His family as a young man had Christmas chicken instead of turkey because it was cheaper.
Worked as an electrician, which involved licking a finger and poking live circuitry to see how much of a shock you got. He considered a career as an electrician but then went to drama school at the age of 24. When acting dried up in the early years of his career, he went back to work as an electrician.
Didn't get an agent until his mid-20s.
Decided to make acting his career at the age of 20 after his first relationship went nowhere. He began professional acting at the age of 25.
Once owned a treasured autograph of Spike Milligan. Later, Milligan wrote the Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town for The Two Ronnies (1971), and Jason provided them (which he claims to be a master at).
His first car was a second-hand Ford Zephyr six-saloon with crimped fins and shiny chrome wing mirrors.
Changed his last name from White to Jason after there was already a David White in the acting profession. He at first tried David Whitehead but there was one of them too. He settled on Jason from Jason and the Argonauts, something he remembered from primary school.
West Side Story is his favorite musical.
Has a scar under his eye.
Was told he had what it took to make it as a professional actor at the age of 22.
A huge fan of The Goon Show, the first time he went to the theatre was to watch a recording of it.
A big fan of Dylan Thomas.
A big fan of The Prisoner (1967).
A big fan of Buddy Holly.
Had no formal education.
Always likes to set money aside, but admits he's not very good with numbers so his accountants handle his finances - he treats them as friends.
Once, while staying as a guest in Ronnie Barker's house, he got slightly drunk and couldn't sleep; he saw a door and assuming it led to a flat roof, decided to get some fresh air to help him sleep even though he couldn't see a thing beyond the door. He reconsidered after worrying about cutting his feet on any stones. The next morning he found the door led to nowhere but a 30ft drop to a disused mill wheel; Barker had a balcony built to prevent any more near tragedies.
Still owns the credit board Phantom Raspberry Blower - David Jason from The Two Ronnies (1971). He's enormously proud of his contribution to "that little moment of comic history".
Landed the part of Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) by making fun of director Ray Butt's Cockney accent with a pitch perfect imitation.
During a horse riding lesson, the horse stepped on his foot, dislocating two of his toes; his injury was written into a play he was doing where the character had gout.
Likes light and bitter beer.
A driver used to take him and Ronnie Barker out looking for bric-a-brac. The more offbeat, the smaller it was, and the further away it was, the more Barker liked the shop.
A friend of Darth Vader actor David Prowse since the beginning of his TV career.
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were the biggest stars Jason ever worked with in his shortlived film career.
Ronnie Barker's decision to retire at the age of 59 disappointed Jason but he respected his decision.
He used to get poetry sent to him from Ronnie Barker. Barker was constantly playing with words and was very quick at composing verses.
Ronnie Barker's nickname for Jason on Open All Hours (1973) was little feed. Jason claimed he was there to be Barker's stooge, and was frustrated when episodes ran long and his part had to be edited down just to feed Barker.
Plays the trombone.
For The Wind in the Willows (1984), Cosgrove Hall wanted Jason to play Ratty but he preferred Mr Toad. Everyone who had voiced Toad had made him unpleasant, but Jason made him into a lovable showoff. After Jason recorded an audition, he got the part.
Has done two sex scenes in his career.
Allergic to pollen.
Got his big break in television at the age of 27 on Do Not Adjust Your Set (1967).
Much of his early acting career involved physical comedy, but not much acting. He was afraid of becoming typecast as a comic actor.
The first time he went abroad was to Switzerland for a skiing holiday in 1970.
Became a big fan of the Bonzos after hearing "I'm the Urban Spaceman".
A big fan of Laurel and Hardy.
Began working in radio in 1970.
Lost the part of Corporal Jones in Dad's Army (1968) (to his chagrin) when the original choice became available after his show was canceled by the BBC and was offered Corporal Jones as compensation.
His first big West End role was in No Sex Please - We're British at the Strand in 1973, but his professional debut was in a Noël Coward production. He did No Sex Please - We're British for 18 months, six nights a week with two nights off for illness. After it was over, he was given a lighter and an engraved hollowed brick that he uses as a pen holder.
Can do voices and impressions, including Tony Benn, Julian Clary and John Wayne.
A big fan of Buster Keaton, he always tried to channel him whenever doing his own stunts.
Wanted to work with Ronnie Barker years before Open All Hours (1973). He believed it profoundly affected the course of his life. He always considered him a mentor whenever they worked together. He never understood why Barker left ITV for the BBC because he wasn't in the know. He considered working with Barker on an entire series a dream outcome. The two became close friends. He claimed Barker was very wise and if he thought something was OK, that was good enough.
Close friends with animator Brian Cosgrove, he's also a big fan of cartoons. Jason didn't know that Penfold from Danger Mouse (1981) was a hamster until a chagrined Cosgrove told him. Jason read for Dangermouse and Penfold, and Cosgrove almost named the character Supermouse. Of all the work he did with Cosgrove Hall, he considered The Wind in the Willows (1984) classic, successful and the most exciting. He loved the cast Cosgrove had managed to assemble, and said he was deeply dedicated to his craft.
Has size 7 feet.
Friend of the late Bob Monkhouse. They used to like winding each other up. Monkhouse wanted to do a silent movie with Jason but his workload kept him busy. They both hail from Weston-Super-Mare.
A huge fan of Alistair Sim ever since he saw him in A Christmas Carol (1951). Jason considers Sim the definitive Scrooge.
He kept some of Del Boy's shirts and sweaters after Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) was finished. It would have felt wrong to throw them away.
When the pilot episode of Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) went through a chaotic production, including going through three directors at one point, Jason privately felt the BBC were trying to sabotage the show.
Del Boy's core business in Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) is fly-pitching, although it was rarely seen. Jason loved doing the patter, the banter and the rhythm. He learned about fly-pitching from watching illegal street traders when he was living in London and doing theatre work. It was good research, and all his fly-pitching scenes were ad-libbed.
While waiting to do some gliding, somebody spotted him, and that led to people with cameras and their kids and even their dogs posing beside the glider, while he was strapped in, embarrassed and frustrated with this unwanted attention. It put him off gliding.
Once, he and Nicholas Lyndhurst brought a bag full of bangers into rehearsals on Only Fools and Horses.... (1981); they loaded stacked chairs with them and the cubicle doors in the toilets. When production assistant Tony Dow unstacked the chairs, they went off, making him afraid to touch them. Jason and Lyndhurst thought it funny until a cleaning lady tried to mop the gents and nearly died of fright. They never pulled that prank again.
When he was first handed the script for the pilot episode of Only Fools and Horses.... (1981), Del Boy was the character that jumped out at him. He was expected to play Grandad but he had his heart set on Del, even though the show' creator and writer John Sullivan felt he was wrong for the part; Sullivan envisioned Del a winner, whereas Jason was known for playing life's losers.
He could forget lines he knew the night before.
Owns a house in the countryside to live but keeps a flat in London whenever he's working.
The BBC weren't sure about casting him in the lead for Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) initially because he and Nicholas Lyndhurst looked nothing alike; John Sullivan disagreed. Del Boy needed to be shorter to remove any sense of physical intimidation between the brothers, and to imply the suspected illegitimacy of the Trotters.
The famous scene from Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) where Del Boy fell through the open bar flap derived from John Sullivan watching the exact same thing happen to a man in a wine bar, except he grabbed onto the fixed part of the bar so he didn't fall right over. Sullivan thought it funny for the man's body language, trying to recover his cool. Sullivan wanted a slip, stumble and a tree like fall; Jason thought Del should go all the way over - start to go sideways, and than go over without looking in the direction of the fall, which Jason thought was the key to the scene. There was a hidden crash mat, but it was a hard shot to get because it was hard not to look where Jason was falling; Jason had done a number of falls in the theatre so that came in handy. Just as funny was Trigger's baffled reaction to Del's sudden disappearance. Jason gets people asking him about that fall all the time, and some never like to talk about anything else, but he's happy to be remembered for something so iconic.
He only ever called in sick once during an episode of Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) for A Royal Flush. He lost his voice and needed three days to recover, putting it behind schedule.
Did Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) and Open All Hours (1973) concurrently with occasional theatre work.
In 1989, after the end of the sixth series of Only Fools and Horses.... (1981), he won a BAFTA award for Best Comedy Performance. He put the award on his mantelpiece, next to the one for Best Actor he had already.
Always before a live studio recording of Only Fools and Horses.... (1981), he and Nicholas Lyndhurst used to go to the canteen and have the same meal, almost like a ritual or a superstition, because they used to get so nervous.
Went on a tribute show to mark the BBC Television Centre's closing in 2012, as well as Ronnie Corbett, Miranda Hart and John Cleese.
Before the start of the sixth series of Only Fools and Horses.... (1981), Jason was annoyed about something and went to see John Sullivan. Sullivan was writing terrific scripts that were too long and had to be edited down to 30 minutes. Jason felt they were cutting more funny material than most sitcoms manage in a full episode. One edit that had particularly vexed Jason was during the Series 5 episode Tea For Three. After Del Boy returned from a disastrous hang-gliding session, he originally had a speech Jason described as "beautifully constructed, full of suppressed rage" about all of the places Del had visited. Jason considered it a comic masterpiece, but because the episode had overrun, half the speech got cut. Sullivan agreed with Jason that the episodes needed to be longer. Jason and Sullivan approached Gareth Gwenlan while he was producing Series 6 with the plan to extend the episodes from 30 to 50 minutes. Gwenlan didn't think that was possible since sitcoms were traditionally 30 minutes in length, and couldn't sustain a longer running time. Jason said that would be true of an average writer, but not one of Sullivan's caliber. And yet they still keep cutting great material. Gwenlan than okayed the idea.
Close friends with his Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst. He liked to call Lyndhurst Nick. They struck up an instant rapport in a motor-home while waiting to film any location shoots, and would mess about at every opportunity. They used to play pranks on the set, e.g. pretending to have fallen out to worry the crew, or nailing Lennard Pearce's shoes to the floor or turning his costume inside out. Although Pearce mostly saw the funny side of things, that day he refused to work until director Ray Butt talked him around and Jason and Lyndhurst apologized. Jason claimed it was the only time Pearce lost perspective.
Yorkshire Television wanted Jason to play Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds of May (1991). He admitted he was amazed the show went on to be a national, award-winning success. He had never read the book so went away and did so before accepting the part; he pronounced it a charming read, as well as lovely, but not much happened and didn't go anywhere. But the characters were strong, especially Pop Larkin, and he would be fun to play. Jason's condition was to shoot the series on film, because he didn't want it to be a studio production. At least on film, it would look good and have some quality about it, even if nothing happened.
Owns two two-seater sports cars.
Ronnie Barker and John Sullivan attended his 50th birthday party; they parked their cars in neighboring drives and roads so as not to spoil the surprise. On the birthday cake in icing was the scene from Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) where Del Boy and Rodney end up with blowup dolls. Jason's wife thought it in poor taste and Jason saw her point, but he considered the baker an artist with the marzipan. Barker delivered a speech at the party, and Jason said it was a lovely, high-spirited evening, and the nicest of surprises, but he wasn't surprised though, because all the lights were off when he came home - something his wife never did.
On The Darling Buds of May (1991), there was a famous scene where Jason shared a bath with Pam Ferris while eating supper. Jason thought about turning up to the set in a frog mask and flippers but couldn't go through with it. Jason and Ferris both wore swimming costumes and the water was colored up to protect their modesty's. Jason considered that scene their icebreaker.
When Jason was cast as Detective Inspector Jack Frost, the character had to be cleaned up from the books, where Frost was a chain smoker, but Jason recently gave up smoking. He used to smoke four or five cigarettes a day, or in the evening with a drink, and didn't want to start again, and smoking was taboo on TV in 1992.
In the early days of The Darling Buds of May (1991), Catherine Zeta-Jones was very nervous due to her lack of experience with television. Jason used to advise her to keep her eyes still while doing dialogue in closeup, something he used to do.
Jason grew a mustache for the role of Detective Inspector Jack Frost; it was his idea as he imagined Frost grew one in his youth to give himself a few extra years and more maturity. He lost the mustache between series to play other parts and than needed four weeks to grow it back as well as stop shaving at the right time ahead of shooting. Sometimes Jason missed the mark and had to help it along with a bit of "coloring-in", but it was always ready for filming.
Jason put on weight when playing Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds of May (1991). It was because of all the food in the show; bread and ham, cheese, pickled onions, roast dinners, chocolate, etc. It was meant to show the Larkin family's generous spirit and carefree love of life. There were also fried breakfasts cooked fresh on the set on a little stove. One day on the set, the shooting schedule meant Jason sat down to breakfast five times, which meant it was piled with bacon and eggs. Jason asked if he could skip the fry-ups, so they switched to kippers, which was just as bad. The extra weight he put on meant he couldn't wear a dinner jacket to that year's BAFTA's that fit the year before. He had to go on a few months of dieting to regain his former, "sylph-like" weight. A Touch of Frost (1992) also had a tough food regime that was hard on Jason's stomach, because Frost wasn't a healthy eater, e.g. bacon sandwiches, chips, fry-ups, etc. People used to remark on it to Jason, that he was eating badly.
On The Darling Buds of May (1991), Jason once smuggled a cucumber into a bed scene with Pam Ferris. She had to deliver most of the dialogue and even though she knew it was there, she did the scene perfectly. It was only after the cameras stopped rolling that she wanted to know what the corpsing Jason was up to. Ferris is known for being very professional.
Jason was never asked if he wanted to pursue a personal project until the end of The Darling Buds of May (1991). He decided he wanted to play a detective, which culminated in A Touch of Frost (1992). Before he got the role, five books, all crime fictions in different areas by different authors were posted to him. Jason took them on holiday to Florida and read them over the next fortnight by the pool. Before Jason settled on Detective Inspector Jack Frost, he considered a Sherlock Holmes type detective because it was different from anything else he had done. Jason called from Florida saying he wanted Frost.
Knows how to milk cows, which came in handy when playing farmer Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds of May (1991).
Owns a house in Buckinghamshire.
Neither Jason nor Tessa Peake-Jones were parents during the episode of Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) when Raquel gave birth to Damien, so to make the scene realistic, they took advice from midwives at the West Middlesex Hospital while filming the scene.
Nicholas Lyndhurst couldn't attend Jason's after party for fifty people during his knighting ceremony in 2005 but John Sullivan did as well as Brian Cosgrove; Jason took the opportunity to announce his second wedding, to rapturous applause and table thumping.
When alone in a caravan on a film shoot for A Touch of Frost (1992), Jason turned it into a workshop, making models from plastic kits, or during the evening to relax. He liked to build ships and planes which than developed into rockets and than launchable rockets between two and five feet tall, with an engine and an explosive component that could fly between 500 and 900ft in the air; Jason liked the rockets best because you could get a performance out of them. Jason assembled them with tools packed in an old makeup case and from specialist parts from obscure sources across Yorkshire. Jason launched them for cast and crew at the back of Leeds Hospital for three years when they filmed in the mortuary; sometimes to great acclaim, sometimes not. Jason later built a launch pad from an old lighting stand and added a launcher with a key, lights and a 2-tone alarm. They were the campest thing you had ever seen in your life. The masterpiece was a Saturn V replica with one of the biggest engines so it was a complex build. It launched like the real thing by hovering above the pad and set off into the sky. Jason liked launching that one most, especially when they came back, which was never a sure thing, with a parachute that emerged from the nose cone. After constant use, it failed to launch at all, and was reluctantly retired.
On The Royal Bodyguard (2011), the series had an armorer who looked after all the weaponry. He along with his platoon in Afghanistan watched The Jolly Boys Outing, an episode of Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) to cheer themselves up, and it did. Jason was staggered and moved.
Filming A Touch of Frost (1992) meant spending a lot of time away from home, at the studios in Leeds or on location in Wetherby, Harrogate, Dewsbury and all local stations. Yorkshire Television made it easy on Jason by renting out a cottage rather than pay for a hotel, especially since Jason could cook for himself; he just wanted somewhere simple to go at the end of the day to clear his head. Yorkshire Television found Jason an old farmer's cottage without central heating, so he had to light a fire; on warm evenings he sat out in the garden which was always a pleasure. When asked did he get lonely, he said he didn't, because he enjoyed the quiet time. He also had his own driver, on call 24hrs a day, who collected Jason from Buckinghamshire for the 3hr drive to Yorkshire while he worked on his scripts, stopping along the way for a bacon and egg roll and a cup of tea ("a very Frost-like meal"). Jason lived in a spartan farm cottage while the cast stayed at a hotel.
Jason liked the darkness of A Touch of Frost (1992) after the lightness of Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) and The Darling Buds of May (1991) because it showed audiences he could play both, but lightness became a part of Frost too.
Didn't name his son David so things wouldn't get complicated around the house.
Jason got a letter from someone saying they saw a house on the market identical to Toad Hall from The Wind in the Willows (1984); it was three miles from Jason's house. He went looking for it and found it. He said it was wonderful and seemed to go on forever, it even had a lake, fed by its own spring. It wasn't Toad Hall, but he could imagine living in it. It was twice the value of the house he owned then. He thought about it but had to pay full price when he lost a coin toss (despite his reputation as a wheeler-dealer). But just driving up to the house made him realize how much he wanted it.
Behind the cottage where Jason lives is the River Taff and a grassy mountain where he can have a think about things. It has a wonderful view.
Used to go to a hotel periodically for seminars to go through scripts, plot developments and story ideas for A Touch of Frost (1992).
In September, 2008 a press release went out about Detective Inspector Jack Frost's retirement. Not because of lack of storylines or Jason losing interest in the character (he would have happily played him forever). The problem was Jason's age: at 68, Jack Frost was the oldest copper on the force. He would have retired ten years before or sooner, so he bowed out.
When his daughter Sophie-Mae was born (named after the girl from The BFG, where Jason voiced the title character in the movie), he thought about doing what Del Boy did when Damien was born from Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) but didn't.
Filmed episodes of A Touch of Frost (1992) with Christmas Specials of Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) concurrently in 1996.
Former PM Tony Blair sent a letter to Jason asking if he would like to become a knight bachelor. Jason suspected a prank, considering it may have been Brian Cosgrove who hired Jason to play Dangermouse, Count Duckula, Mr Toad and the BFG, but the offer was genuine.
During the Gulf War, Jason met someone in a pub who worked at RAF Command Headquarters. He told Jason they race 3-wheel vans against each other, paint them yellow with Trotters Independent Traders down the sides of them, like the van from Only Fools and Horses.... (1981). Jason went down to have a look, but he didn't see a race. Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Buster Merryfield all sent a Trotters van out to Kuwait. They slipped it into a Hercules plane among other stuff on a supply run and when it was unloaded the crew would find the van, filled up with chewing gum, toothpaste, cake and Danger Mouse (1981) and Count Duckula (1988) tapes from Brian Cosgrove with labels saying Debbie Does Dallas and Unzipperdedoodah and all sorts to amuse them. Jason didn't ask for any publicity because he didn't want anyone to think it was just for that, but a private joke between the RAF and the Trotters. The van was put in the hold and covered up with medical supplies and ammunition and flew to Kuwait, where it's discovery brought some light relief.

Personal Quotes (454)

I've been fascinated by deep sea diving since watching Jacques-Yves Cousteau's TV programmes as a lad.
Marriage is like throwing yourself into a river when you only wanted a drink of water.
I've never ever 'felt my age', whatever that means. I think that there are a lot of people who feel 22 when in fact they're 62, and there are a lot of youngsters out there who behave as if they were four times their age. It's an attitude of mind, isn't it?
I've done my fair share of waiting on tables in restaurants, cleaning cars, whatever. I was even an electrician at one time, and I've done my fair bit of decorating, too. But slowly my fortunes changed.
It was a long time before TV wanted me - I would have had to commit murder to get a part on the box at one time.
Perhaps being a character actor on radio was, in retrospect, the best training I could get.
When you had just three and then four channels, I could always find something that was watchable because the standard of TV was much higher. In those days they had so much more money to put into so many less programmes. I feel sorry for ITV, who are finding it difficult because of the recession and lack of advertising and they're in a bit of a spiral. One thing follows the other, of course, and if you don't have advertising revenue, you can't put it into programmes, so you end up with the shows that will generate the most ads, like The X Factor (2004) and Britain's Got Talent (2007). Personally, I'm not sure if I like those shows, but other people do, so I suppose, from ITV's point of view, it's good programming. But I'm an actor and so of course I want to see TV companies making good dramas. I want that to be a priority.
A show like the Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) Christmas special got 24 million viewers, so practically everyone in the country was watching. But of course it's a different world now, with so many channels. And those kind of figures are really difficult to achieve. It doesn't help that channels try to split the audience by putting their best shows head-to-head. Recently the BBC moved Strictly Come Dancing (2004) to compete with The X Factor (2004) which, quite rightly, annoyed a lot of people. Why play silly buggers with the audience, especially in the case of the BBC, who don't need to do it at all? In the end the motive is just plain power hunger and empire-building and it's unnecessary; it doesn't serve the audience.
When I worked with Ronnie Barker, who was very well known himself at the time, I always remember him saying, 'You don't have to be a shit to be a big star, David.' I've always tried to remember that.
When we did Only Fools and Horses.... (1981), it was a five-day week. You'd rehearse for four days and record on a Sunday, but it was much more laid back. The Royal Bodyguard (2011) has been extremely intensive. I think that's because today's budgets are so tight, not just at the BBC, but for everybody. It's been really hard work.
[on missing out on the part of Corporal Jones in Dad's Army (1968)] Bill Cotton was having drinks with Clive Dunn and hired him. Co-writer/producer David Croft protested. But Cotton said, 'David Jason? Who's he? Clive Dunn has a much better reputation.' What a blow that was, I tell you. I was bitterly disappointed, but that's showbusiness.
Everything I've done has been a pleasure, touch wood. I love my job. Ronnie Barker said to me, 'Aren't we lucky: being paid very well for making ourselves laugh?'
John Sullivan's scripts were always very funny, and cast and crew got on well. You can't convince an audience if you're not enjoying it yourself.
The trouble now is we have stand-up comedians who have forgotten about innuendo. In music-hall days, and especially at the BBC, you were never allowed swearwords, so they came up with brilliant wheezes in Beyond Our Ken, The Goon Show and Round the Horne - 'Hello, I'm Jules and this is my friend Sandy'. Everyone knew what it was about and the audience filled in the gaps.
Today they push down barriers. Take the 'f' word. It's become commonplace. Stephen Fry - I'm a great fan and think he's clever - puts up a good argument for using all swearwords as a rich part of our language. But he couldn't persuade me. Language has implications and it's offensive if it's meant to denigrate something or someone. Only Fools had nothing unpleasant, really. I shouldn't be telling you this, but when Del Boy calls Rodney a dipstick, BBC executives thought it was OK because, 'He's so tall and thin, how terribly funny,' so it slipped past. Had they known the cockney rhyming slang they might have taken it out.
Comedy is a funny business, which you have to take seriously. It requires a lot of thought, energy and adrenaline, so when you return home you want to calm down, recharge your batteries and not be the life and soul of the party.
I'm not perfect, though. Any woman who takes on someone in this business has a bit of a handful.
People have high expectations. You enter a room and know they're thinking, 'He'll be funny,' and you go, 'Leave it out, love. I'm having a day off.' You then become a disappointment.
The most important thing for me is that I can sit back and watch it with my ten-year-old daughter, Sophie, without thinking, 'Whoops, why did they say that? Oh blimey' - and then unable get to the 'off ' knob fast enough. I try to protect what she sees on television, but you can't. Take the adverts: I was watching SpongeBob, a favourite cartoon of ours, but suddenly a scent advert came on with this girl stripping off as she walks towards the camera. It's done for mums but they forget a lot of girls are watching these powerful images. There wasn't much on telly the other night so with Sophie and her friend we watched Laurel and Hardy, made in the 1930s, and these kids laughed like drains. That's humour - doing what funny people have done since comedy began without being edgy and pushing boundaries.
[on amateur theatre] This was where I cut my teeth - the first stages of my acting journey.
[on his first job center interview] The whole setup felt fantastically, bowel-liquidisingly intimidating to me. When asked what kind of thing do you have in mind for yourself, my answer was I don't know.
Hell hath no fury like a man spurned and on a motorbike.
[on needing stitches several times as a boy] I probably only needed to go one more time to qualify for my own set of needles.
[on the late 1950s] A period I remember with great affection. My life seemed to be coming together in this period, or settling into a rhythm.
[on failing his first audition] It was dead man walking - one of the longest walks I'll ever make. I felt about as foolish as I have ever felt.
I was a person who rather liked his home comforts.
Learning wasn't really my thing, and it was fairly clear from an early stage that I would be unlikely to be troubling the scorers at Oxford.
Many of the world's leading film stars are shorties, mentioning no Tom Cruises.
I was going to do the unsteady thing. I was going to become an actor.
The real dream for me was acting. I felt time creeping on. I couldn't bear the idea of getting to 35 and not having given it a shot - and then maybe living with the regret and the sense of what if for the rest of my life.
The self-taught among us have our own particularly strong strain of the common actors' virus - and somehow no amount of success and acclaim ever quite squeezes it out of you.
[on his first audition] My tongue had taken on the thickness of a can of Spam.
Comments about my height were water off a not very tall duck's back.
One thing which I definitely had in my favor was determination.
My two favorite activities in the world: diving and flying. I am rarely happier than when deep in the water or high in the sky. Psychiatrists: help yourself.
I had been one of those people who didn't quite have the courage or the know-how to take the future into their own hands, but who were waiting for it to happen - waiting to be discovered. And waiting to be discovered wasn't necessarily going to work. You needed to find to make it happen, or you needed something, or someone, to give you a shove.
[on returning to work as an electrician when acting dried up during the early years of his career] It kept my feet on the ground.
[on his height] I was made to realize very early that however this acting life of mine panned out, romantic leads were probably going to be hard to come by.
All actors are a mix of confidence and doubt - of bulletproof self-belief one minute, and trembling insecurity the next. Its what makes us such a joy to be around.
[when his first agent got him work in an ad] Visions of Hollywood movies danced in my mind, but Hollywood would have to wait.
[on his first professional role] I could hardly breathe with the thrill of it. But it was completely tiddly. And I was completely green and oblivious.
I was in the traditional catch-22 that traps so many performers when they first set out on their fumbling way towards a career: you can't get any work unless you've acted before, and if you haven't acted before, you can't get any work.
If you're a comic actor, the idea of people laughing at absolutely anything is actually rather worrying. You want to know why people are laughing. You want to be in control of the reason they laugh. You want to know it's coming from something you've done - something you could do again if you had to.
(Alan) Ladd was one of my earliest cinema heroes.
Lots of actors wait tables while 'resting' between jobs. Not me. I did electrics while 'resting', and waited tables while I was working.
Sometimes you take your life in your hands just walking up the street.
[on his first car] I thought that was going to be the passport to international jet-set pleasure with members of the opposite sex. In fact, I mostly ended up playing taxi driver for all my car-less male mates.
[on telling his parents that he was going to drama school] They couldn't have been less enthusiastic if I'd just proposed setting up a commercial newt-breeding operation in the bathroom.
[on going to drama school] Performing what we might call a reverse Nelly, I unpacked my trunk, metaphorically speaking, and said hello to the circus.
No actor, to my knowledge, has ever been described as steady.
Comedy lies in how you draw out that time and fill it - edging gradually closer, almost committing, backing off, starting again, and hoping to pull the audience in and out with you.
What else is the gift of acting, if not the ability to convince other people that you are something other than what you actually are?
[on working in the electrical business] Quite grubby and uncomfortable work. At the end of the day, I was quite often entirely blackened, like some poor Victorian kid who'd been sent up a chimney.
[on his first apartment] It was the first rung on the ladder to independence. At last, no doubt to my parents' immense relief, I had flown the nest - and at the age of 26, probably not a moment too soon.
Me and alcohol learned to be careful around one another. Tales of tippling actors are legion.
I was used to directors helping an actor to draw the nuance out of a character, as tended to happen in the theatre. In television, you were supposed to know that already.
[on Dad's Army; Are You Being Served; It Ain't Half Hot Mum; Hi-De-Hi; Allo, Allo] More than three quarters of the most successful sitcoms made for British television in the 70s and 80s and an extraordinarily high proportion of the greatest comedy hits of all time.
[on seeing someone roll a joint] It was a total novelty for me, and I have to admit, it rather fazed me. Alcohol I could happily entertain the concept of, but the thought of illicit substances made me nervous.
Lofty ambitions aside, what I loved about acting was the chance it gave you to adapt.
[on Terry Scott] He didn't suffer fools. Fame had temporarily exhausted his patience with lesser mortals, as fame sometimes will.
[on people during World War II] Physical affection and displays of emotion were rare, and moments of intimacy, too. That was how people were.
[on his childhood home] So tiny that when you opened the front door, you almost fell up the stairs.
[on Do Not Adjust Your Set] Whatever else you wanted to say, there was nothing like it at the time and all the kids locked onto it. It spoke to them - they could feel proprietorial about it. It was the humor: none of the adults got it. Mums and Dads would say I don't know what you're watching this rubbish for and that just elevated it higher in kids estimations. It was mad.
[on Dick Emery's talent for face-pulling] He'd start pulling the most horrendous faces - faces in which his lower lip seemed to pass up over his nose, faces wherein his eyes seemed to grow to the size of tennis balls and his chin to drag along the ground, faces which seemed to express the most alarming of sexual intentions...the worst faces you have ever seen.
[on Do Not Adjust Your Set] Suddenly I was a budding star of children's television. It wasn't the route I'd imagined when I set out and I'm sure the same was true of Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Eric Idle. But none of us were complaining.
[on Do Not Adjust Your Set] We were out, being paid to make films and behave like idiots, and wherever we went, the tab was picked up. I couldn't have been more blissfully happy, really. There was a wonderful freedom to it all. I was doing something I loved but under no pressure. I was an unknown actor, so there were no expectations. No one was expecting me to deliver. That came later. I was free to bury myself in work and enjoy it. I learned from this why so many people find solace in painting and drawing.
It amuses me that the conversation which gave rise to so much of my career in television took place in the tiny, run-down bar of the Bournemouth Pier Theatre.
[on first meeting Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones] They seemed a bit posh. Absolutely sure of themselves in a way I could never have imagined being in those days. They were highly educated, very articulate and quite experienced. They were very chummy with each other and a bit cliquey.
[on his fear of commitment] I got frightened about going down a road that would lead to responsibilities - responsibilities that might, in turn, take me away from the theatre. When the person I was with got too close or I felt that I was getting too involved, I drew away. I was very adept at snuffing out the spark, I'm sorry to say. An absolute expert at it.
[auditioning for a musical] It was my duty to be up for absolutely anything at this crucial formative stage in my professional life.
[on working with the Dulux sheepdog in an ad] He was just a lovely dog with an unusually keen interest in interior decorating. I thought he looked slightly smaller in the flesh. But then people often say the same about me. He was a total nightmare.
[on being rejected for Dad's Army] Well, that knocked the wind right out of my sails, while at the same time, removing the bottom from my world. Ah, well, bet that show doesn't come to anything anyway.
[on his character on Do Not Adjust Your Set] The whole point of Captain Fantastic was that it was a parody of the silent era. If you lost that, you lost everything about it.
[on Bob Monkhouse] He was the first person I knew who had satellite television, presumably so he could plunder the airwaves for gags 24 hours a day. Bob was an early adopter of new technology.
If I had followed the money and not my heart, I wouldn't have got to work with Ronnie Barker. It profoundly affected the course of my life thereafter.
I have never been a naturally assertive or confrontational person. But I knew what I wanted and I made sure I stood firm and got it.
When you're out of work, unsure where you're headed, or even headed anywhere at all, and you're looking at the success that people are having without you...well, I was pretty bitter about it.
[in the 70s] There was no way that I was a name you could put up outside a theatre and expect it to bring in the crowds.
[on the 70s] Those were thrilling times altogether. I was acting in the West End, living in the West End, drinking in the West End - I couldn't have got much more West End without changing my name to "West End".
[on hang gliding] It was a wonderful way to relax and get away from the job. The cheapest way to get into the air, and the cheapest kind of aircraft money could buy.
[on shooting a sex scene] When you go to the pub after a day like that, and you tell someone with a proper job that this is how you spent your working day, they tend to look at you slightly askance. But what you've got to remember about experiences like these is that they take place in excruciating circumstances: witheringly, belittlingly, in a roomful of people and with someone popping up every minute or so with a bit of powder on a puff. It's not uncomplicated, is what I'm saying.
If any actor tells you their idle contemplations haven't turned longingly, at some point or other, to the prospect of a major American film deal, they're almost certainly fibbing.
[on radio] I love the immediacy of it.
Don't be such a fool as not to use things that work when they're offered to you. If someone has blazed a trail, don't muck about in the long grass: follow them up it. If it works, and has been proved to work, you'd be an idiot not to help yourself.
[on acting in the West End] This whole period was a huge learning curve.
[on Bob Monkhouse] I was very impressed by his professionalism, his knowledge of comedy, which was vast. Bob's house was even more vast than his knowledge of comedy. He had a deep respect for the physical comedy of the silent stars. With regard to comedy, he was a student as much as anything else, and a collector of it.
I could perform a reliable pratfall.
[jokes] Some fall on stony ground - beware the in-joke.
You have to have been in a film to be considered for a film. It's a catch-22 and equity all over again. So if you somehow do break through and get to make a film, you're off and running. That's how it works, isn't it? How far from the truth can you get?
It wasn't about Ronnie (Barker) being the big star, the needy comedian, having to get the laughs. It was about what Ronnie, as an actor, thought worked best for the piece. That was his fundamental philosophy. He saw the bigger picture at all times.
It's hard to explain what makes two actors sit comfortably opposite one another on camera, and come across well together, and no doubt there are many contributing factors; that shared sense of timing, which can take a verbal form as well as a physical one. Sometimes you can find that rhythm with someone over the course of time.
I turned up when I was told to turn up, I stood where I was told to stand and I said the words I was told to say - the definition of film-acting.
Very few people blow a raspberry as well as I do; an area of expertise in which I could be described as a world leader.
Diving grew into one of my great passions.
[on Ronnie Barker] It wasn't just the depth of his comic gift, it was the way he conducted himself, the kind of man he was. I've always tried to emulate him a bit and to feel him on my shoulder. You would have been hard-pushed to find someone less grand or starry. The trappings of show business and the attention that it brought him were of no interest to Ronnie.
[Danger Mouse] I loved that mouse.
[on his Hollywood days] An unforgettable period for me. I was constantly pinching myself to check that it was really me. Seven days of tourism. I was a wide-eyed innocent throughout that trip. It didn't occur to me to network or mingle or put myself about or turn the trip to my commercial advantage. For all the fantasies about a life in film, I lacked the belief. I thought it was far, above and beyond me. I suppose I wanted someone to tell me I was good. I was incapable of telling them. I was the wrong way round in LA.
A good comedian is never on holiday.
[Nicholas Lyndhurst] My mate.
[Del, Rodney and Grandad Trotter, the original trio from Only Fools and Horses] The Three Stooges.
[Lennard Pearce, who played Grandad in Only Fools and Horses] Lamented.
[his raspberry version of the 1812 Overture] Anyone interested in seeing me re-stage this performance at the Royal Albert Hall any time soon, get on to my agent. Jobs don't come much more profound than going into a BBC studio to spend a morning making farting noises into a microphone.
There's a motto we Dive Masters know well: 'Stop. Breathe. Think. Act'. I had that thoroughly drilled into me.
I don't want to die alone. I don't even want to die in company. I want to be alive. I've got stuff I still want to do. Reasons to live.
[World War II] Those five years of global conflagration had nothing to do with me. I associate my earliest days with the smell and taste of brick dust.
[being strapped into a gas mask as an infant during World War II] An infringement of my liberty. A rubber deep-sea diver's helmet.
[Richard Beckinsale] A handsome, friendly guy with something rather effortlessly glamorous about him. He could spin a story so well that you had no choice but to believe it. Richard's attitude was, if you've got it, spend it, because there's no point hanging on to it. Richard's life ended tragically early. He had barely started. It was so shocking. We were devastated for him. It caught all of us completely off guard but it hit Ronnie (Barker) particularly hard. He couldn't work for a number of days because he was so upset.
[having your lines DLP] Dead Line Perfect.
[the 70s] These were years when I felt like I was learning all the time. The industry was certainly more patient in those days than it seems to be now - but even then, patience had its limits. The most important thing was not to think too hard about the longer term, but just to enjoy the work when it came up, and for as long as it continued to do so. The journey, not the arrival, as they say. They do say that, don't they? Ah, well. If they don't, they do now.
[Only Fools and Horses] A series that definitely did work.
[having an article written about him in TV Times for the first time] It made me feel pretty special - like some kind of top gun.
Filming television in front of an audience requires you to serve two masters: the audience in the studio and the audience at home. When the audience laugh, you have to find a way to ride that laugh and absorb it and then choose the right moment to continue with the show. You mustn't crash into the audience but you mustn't look like you're waiting for them to stop laughing, either. There's a technique to interacting with the audience's laughter that you only pick up by doing it.
[the ability to stay in character] Why not, if it helps you. Ronnie Barker could slip in and out of character effortlessly.
[a delivery bike] Not as straightforward as it may look. Riding a bike is like...well, riding a bike.
[BBC2] The backwater for a brand new comedy series.
Why Ronnie (Barker) left ITV for the BBC, only those in the know would know, and as I wasn't in the know, you know, I wouldn't know. You know?
[Ronnie Barker] He didn't collect things because they were valuable, particularly. He collected them because they appealed to him and he liked to have them around. His place was like a house of wonders. The walls were covered with wonderful pictures, of all shapes, sizes and styles. Ronnie's house in Oxfordshire was a treasure trove.
[having a stuntman] Where's the fun in that? I was happier being given the chance to channel my inner Buster Keaton.
[playing the Phantom Raspberry Blower in The Two Ronnies] I'm enormously proud of my contribution to that little moment of comic history.
[Open All Hours] The chance to play opposite Ronnie (Barker) in an entire series was a dream outcome.
[himself and Nicholas Lyndhurst] A pair of silly Buddhas.
[the makeup chair] Quite uncomfortable and not a little boring, but you lump it.
[the ability to slip in and out of character] The sign of true comfort in a role. Some actors never come out of character.
Mr Nobodies with rich fantasy lives: are we beginning to detect a certain theme emerging in my professional roles?
Could I do a convincingly suave and appealing phone manner? Yes, I have to say I could.
Ronnie (Barker) wasn't playing to win. He was playing simply towards the end of getting the laugh. He knew where the laugh was - the winning shot at the end of the rally.
[getting to carry a series] A real vote of confidence.
[after the Daily Mirror compared him to Buster Keaton] As comparisons go...well, I was ready to accept that one.
People always say that the essence of a sitcom is people trapped by their circumstances.
[going with Ronnie Barker to antique and junk shops] The tinier and the more offbeat the shop was, and the further it was into the middle of nowhere, the happier Ronnie was.
In the mid-70s, phone calls were only made possible by someone sitting at a switchboard with a fistful of plugs.
cking] Going through the script and working out all the positions on the set during the scenes.
[industrial action] Very 1970s.
[his career] A pretty good stretch. A lot of luck in there. A lot of good times, with some truly great people. And some really amazing success. Only Fools and Horses, The Darling Buds of May, A Touch of Frost, a few BAFTAs on the mantelpiece - not too shabby as CV's go. A busy and fulfilling life, and not bad at all for a working-class lad from North London.
Any way you could find to save money while out on tour was always welcomed.
[finding somewhere to hide in a hurry] Not uncommon in farces, or certain draconian bed & breakfasts too, as I well knew.
[John Sullivan, the creator and writer of Only Fools and Horses] He had a warm personality and was extremely easy to like.
etly spoken] That's often been a surprise to me, with comedy writers. You expect people who write funny things to be loud and constantly saying things. Often it couldn't be further from the truth.
[single beds] Narrow as a plank.
[scantily clad] Popular phrase.
Richard (Wilson) had great timing and I admired him enormously and was very pleased for him with the success he went on to have.
[student beds] Monastically narrow.
[hapless characters in the first part of his TV career] The parts I was getting at this time.
[a sharp intake of breath] The noise people make, sucking air past their teeth.
A wonderful feeling, being part of the creative process.
[encephalitis] I had no idea what that was, or even how to pronounce it.
[the old silent movie] The attitude was: here's what you've got to do: see what you can get out of it; and hope you survive.
[playing Mr Toad in The Wind in the Willows] I just about managed to hold my own.
[a hotel room] A sterile environment.
[watching cartoons as a kid] The color and the vibrancy and the silliness made a wonderful impression on me.
[spilling a drink on someone] What larks.
[Cosgrove Hall] That first connection was the start of so much pleasure for me.
[the Wind in the Willows] Classic. Very successful. What a cast Brian (Cosgrove) had managed to assemble.
[a large brandy] Poison. Even the smell of it made the head swim.
[Brian Cosgrove] Deeply dedicated to his craft. Good company.
[Sir Michael Hordern] One of the theatrical greats and a real hero of mine. I could never have stood on a stage with him doing Shakespeare and been competitive.
[going bald] Time had performed its evil depredations.
If the thing you most love about acting is the chance to inhabit other characters, and disappear into them, how could you not love voicing animations? The secret, is to treat the drawing as you would treat any other character you might be asked to play. You don't think of yourself as adding a voice to a cartoon; you think of yourself as playing a character.
[Ronnie Barker] Very wise, and if he thought it was OK, that was good enough.
[Maureen Lipman, Hattie Jacques and Roy Kinnear] Distinguished company.
It was easier to carry a quill around than a typewriter.
[comics relying on alcohol to function] There have been many over the years and it's my fortune that I've never been one of them.
Be careful with a Flymo on a slope.
Everyone in a new play gets nerves on a first night.
[Hong Kong entertainment] As far removed from a matinée performance of Aladdin in Wimbledon over the Christmas period as it is possible to get.
[never knowing where you are in a play] Not an especially useful trait in that line of work.
[at the Jakarta Hilton] It was like being in some kind of fairytale.
[watching an exotic dancer in Hong Kong] I had no idea that you could use an unpeeled banana for quite those purposes, or press a ping-pong ball into service like that - nor that it would shoot quite so high into the air when you did so. Table tennis has never felt the same to me since.
[cling film] It will keep you extremely fresh.
The makeup department is a wonderful thing.
[while wearing slippers with leather soles] You don't walk downstairs so much as ski down them.
It's always best to confront things, actor to actor.
[Open All Hours] I was there to be Ronnie's stooge.
[Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubah, Kuala Lumpur and Egypt] Places that were just a vague rumor in a distant atlas.
[getting lost in Hong Kong] Happens from time to time.
[himself] The idea that acting could open up experiences to someone from a terraced house in Lodge Lane seemed staggering to me.
[while flying on a 747 over Iran and Iraq] Somewhere way below us, people were firing rockets and bombs at each other. We, meanwhile, were suspended at 35,000ft, in our unworldly little bubble, sipping cocktails, chinking glasses and saying chin-chin.
I loved traveling and seeing new places, and I was also of the firm opinion that the opportunity to travel and see new places at someone else's expense and while being paid should never be batted away lightly. Wages in the bin, living like a king - what could be better?
Funny how a certain kind of calm can descend on you.
Life is notoriously short.
[his knowledge of art history] Fairly minimal.
My grasp of music is not the best.
The most impolite thing you can do is point your foot at somebody's head. It's the worst kind of insult.
[the eyes going back and forward and the eyebrows going up and down] The manner of someone contemplating magic.
[his character Granville from Open All Hours] Seemingly eternal shopboy. The shop had become the full extent of his world and he didn't have time for anything beyond it.
In Dubai, the Sheikhs seemed to be going in for competitive airport building - fantastically constructed, you wouldn't want your airport to be smaller than anyone else's, would you?
I like a practical project.
[old fairground slot machines] Great, historic machinery.
[Leslie Philips] A legend of British comedy.
[the song Singin' in the Rain] Long and complex.
[being a team player] What you need to be in a touring production, unless the whole thing is going to implode horribly.
[flying for 23 hours] You get a bit stir-crazy, stuck in a tube that long.
[£500 a week] Handsome money.
[derived from Ronnie Barker's nickname on Open All Hours] There was only one Guvnor.
[Ronnie Barker] He was constantly playing with words and was very quick at composing verses.
[egg and bacon sandwiches] Salmonella on legs.
[his childhood home] There was very little for burglars to help themselves to.
[Ronnie Barker's retirement] For all that it disappointed me that he stopped producing work, I respected him so much for it. It gave him 16 relaxed and contented years before his terribly sad death in 2005.
[reading the script for the first episode of Only Fools and Horses] It was one of those ones where, within about a page and a half, you realize it's got you hooked. It had characters, it had some zinging lines, it had warmth - it seemed to have all the necessary ingredients.
[Wellington boots] A fantastic breakthrough.
[as a 7-year old] I've been going to the house of God all these weeks, and every time I go He's never at home.
Actors don't really retire: there isn't usually a formal moment. You don't give up the business, the business tends to give you up.
[his first radio] I kept it in my bedroom, twitching the whiskers of wire to find voices or music, and lying in bed in the dark, listening to the great wide world.
[the Trotters in Only Fools and Horses] A cross-generational trio.
[Noel Edmonds' hair] Enduring abundance.
[BBC Television Centre] The fabled donut building. I miss that building and was sad to see the BBC leave it, although of course, life teaches us that nothing is permanent. Apart, obviously, from Noel Edmonds' hair.
[Del Boy, his character from Only Fools and Horses] He had a Cockney accent you could have rolled up and beaten someone over the head with.
[the BBC sitcom Citizen Smith] Highly successful.
[becoming a Sir] Heady, heady times.
[BBC coffee] Famously filthy.
[he and Nicholas Lyndhurst getting nervous before a recording of Only Fools and Horses] Why do we do this to ourselves?
Some audiences would be worried for you.
[the script for the pilot episode of Only Fools and Horses] Bright and full of life. The more I thought about Del (Boy), and the more I thought about the script I had seen, the more I felt there was something potentially wonderful there for me.
[Del Boy's sweaters and shirts that he kept] I can't throw them away. It would feel wrong.
[during location shoots on Only Fools and Horses and when the actors took a break in filming] We sat in the back of a cheap second-hand motor-home, with the sink and the stove stripped out, and in their stead, a battered sofa, a knackered chair and a rack for your clothes. The smell in the place was a heady mix of damp carpet, petrol fumes and the aroma of 10,000 previously smoked woodbine cigarettes. An underfunded housing project. The drivers of these motor-homes couldn't do anything because they were unionized and would have got into trouble if they did any work. Driving them was a job I could never have done. I would have been banging my head against the windscreen in frustration after about 40 minutes.
[remembering the first read-through for the pilot episode of Only Fools and Horses] When the three of us (he, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Lennard Pearce) began to put our voices to the lines, the magic was in the room. All the component parts just fitted. The whole thing was sounding like it had been written for us. When we reached the end of our read, silence fell on the room.
[his TV awards] A fistful. Mantelpiece getting a little crowded.
[being knighted] Awards don't get any bigger than this.
[The Jolly Boys' Outing, an episode of Only Fools and Horses] Everyone acted their socks off.
[Only Fools and Horses] Happy days.
[creating the character of Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses] I was doing my best to think comedy-drama, not sitcom.
[Nicholas Lyndhurst] Nick.
[Kenneth MacDonald, one of his co-stars on Only Fools and Horses] Jovial.
[Del Boy] He only appeared to have won things which it subsequently turned out he had lost. But he was a winner by mentality.
[appearing in The Color of Magic] Waiting for a better job to turn up.
[his career] A player of life's losers.
[the cast of The Darling Buds of May] One big happy family.
[filming Only Fools and Horses] You couldn't not be nervous. You were presenting a new play every week to an audience. There was so much to go wrong. There will be retakes and cameras have to be moved, and sets altered, so the pressure of time was always hanging over you. It took two hours to film an episode. If I could sense that the audience wasn't responding, I would do something stupid or dry on purpose, and then share it with the audience. Then the audience would relax. They knew they could laugh and not get into trouble, and by the same token they knew we weren't taking it too seriously. And then they'd be off. And once they were off, there was generally no holding them.
[The Darling Buds of May] Even more happy days.
You are trying to inhabit the character's body, not let the character inhabit your body.
[you can't be funny on an empty stomach] It's one of the great truths of comedy.
I hate shopping for clothes for myself and would rather shut my fingers in a kitchen drawer than stand in a store on Oxford Street holding up shirts against myself and saying "what do you think?" Shopping for clothes for a character, on the other hand, was something different. I utterly loved it. It was a total escape.
Nick (Lyndhurst) and I recognized in each other a kindred urge to mess about, whenever possible.
[firecrackers] Quality entertainment.
[his first impression of Nicholas Lyndhurst] Shiny-faced.
[his first impression of John Sullivan, the writer and creator of Only Fools and Horses] He was very quiet.
[his opinion of Del, Rodney and Grandad after the pilot episode of Only Fools and Horses] They were real people who just happened to be very funny. I felt very, very excited indeed.
[Lennard Pearce, one of his co-stars on Only Fools and Horses] It wasn't like him not to see the funny side.
[Only Fools and Horses] I don't think this is a sitcom. I think this is a comedy-drama.
[Only Fools and Horses] Heady days.
[Del Boy's fashion sense] A bit bright, a bit Jack the lad.
[fashion] Not really my area of expertise, and never has been.
[Terry and June] Designed for sitcom figures.
Only Fools and Horses got off to a ragged and inauspicious start.
[Only Fools and Horses] The series grew into something better.
Ken (MacDonald) loved the show (Only Fools and Horses) and the people in it and could become quite emotional about his attachment to everyone. His character wasn't especially big, but he was utterly committed to it because he just thought it was one of the funniest shows ever and he wanted to be a part of it. I think we all felt the same.
His performance as the fabulously dim Trigger (from Only Fools and Horses) was so good that one tended to come to the conclusion that Roger (Lloyd Pack) must be genuinely like that as a person. He wasn't at all. He was quiet, unassuming, totally easy-going - and a consummate actor.
[gin and tonic] Medicinal.
John (Challis, one of his co-stars on Only Fools and Horses) was charming, well spoken, an actor of great weight, and an absolute gent to work with - another proper team player.
[Only Fools and Horses] We had the makings of a tight team.
[after the pilot episode of Only Fools and Horses went through a chaotic production] I think they must be trying to sabotage us.
[Boycie from Only Fools and Horses] Oh-so-superior.
[cigarettes] Equally medicinal.
[A Touch of Glass, the famous chandelier episode of Only Fools and Horses] There was a lot of pressure on that piece of filming.
[Series 1 of Only Fools and Horses] Under-the-radar. We all knew there was a massive potential here, but early in a sitcom's life you never really know what they're thinking upstairs, in the big rooms where the decisions are made. Only Fools and Horses could have been canceled there and then, and we would have been gutted, but not entirely surprised.
[a director yelling Cut] The magic word.
[Series 2 of Only Fools and Horses] The series in which the show broke through the glass chandelier.
[Tuesday evenings] Isn't always the best night to drag in the big numbers.
The prospect of commitment, solid commitment, troubled me.
The closer to London, the more expensive the house.
I have always been very driven and determined to fill the hours.
[A Touch of Glass, the famous chandelier episode of Only Fools and Horses] Classic.
[Only Fools and Horses in its second series] We had lost the BBC a million of the viewers who had previously been happy to watch the channel at that point in the week. Those are the kind of statistics which make television executives start to get twitchy with the trigger finger. We all had to think, 'well, it's been fun, but that's probably it'.
[the East] It was so tricky to get out of London in that direction.
I liked the country life. As much as I loved London, I found the quiet and isolation of the countryside had started appealing to me really strongly.
The traditional paranoid actor's frame of mind: 'will I ever work again?'
[moving in with a partner] All my life I had always resisted any such thing. Indeed, traditionally this was the point in any relationship at which I had always run a mile, causing no little distress along the way. But now I didn't run away. I felt ready.
[Only Fools and Horses avoiding the axe] Suddenly, deep in the heart of the BBC, faith was renewed, the candle re-lit, the flag run back up the flagpole. Order du jour! as Del might have put it. Only Fools had been granted the time to grow.
[Grandad in Only Fools and Horses] A silent presence.
[Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses] Lovable.
[mistakes during filming a sitcom] Every time, I blame someone and make it into a joke. If you can make the audience think you don't care, the audience relax and they like you and they feel part of it.
Life was a bit topsy-turvy but no less enjoyable for that. I was very busy and very content.
The pressure on you in front of an audience and cameras is very high and if you've never done it before it can really get to you.
[Strained Relations, the Only Fools and Horses episode where Grandad died] I knew John (Sullivan) wasn't frightened of hitting things head on, but what I hadn't realized before was just how extraordinarily adept he was at moving from comedy to drama and pathos. The funeral scene was dark and sad, but shot through with bright shafts of humor, like "Always in our Foughts", or dropping the vicar's hat into Grandad's grave. When I read that, I collapsed. It was just so...Trotters. What a bleak day that was. The weather matched our moods and it fed into the scene: the drama of the dark glasses at the graveside. It was was all very hard to do, with Lennard's memory so fresh. I was very emotional. It was an episode written by John out of respect for Lennard. So I wanted to get it right for Lennard, and at the same time, I wanted to get it right for John. He just wouldn't let television dismiss Lennard's passing, in the way that television might have done, if television had been left to it's own frequently fickle devices. It was a wonderful thing - and something that nobody had done in situation comedy.
[Lynda Bellingham] Great and lovely.
[Buster Merryfield] He had been a fit young man.
[losing Lennard Pearce] Only Fools and Horses seemed set fair and sailing steadily in the right direction. We could have no idea of the scale of the setback the show was about to endure. Those of us on the show had grown to think of him as family too, though. We mourned his loss as you would mourn the loss of a family member.
[Buster Merryfield] Much like me for a while, he had combined a day job with amateur dramatics and he became a bit of a leading light in his local group. He always lusted after turning professional and (again, like me) he had picked up a couple of bits and pieces by responding to ads. He didn't have an agent, or anything sophisticated like that. He just had his enthusiasm.
[Only Fools and Horses losing its first BAFTA nomination] We were the nearlys, but not quites. We were stoic enough about it, though. And also, thoroughly refreshed.
[when Buster Merryfield joined Only Fools and Horses] Happy years to come.
I was happy to have my substance exploited.
[Lennard Pearce's death and Buster Merryfield's arrival on Only Fools and Horses] Out of adversity grew something really positive. The arrival of Buster led John Sullivan into a new rich vein.
[seeing a picture of Buster Merryfield for the first time, who would play Uncle Albert on Only Fools and Horses] This guy with bright eyes and pink cheeks and a bushy Captain Birdseye beard. He wasn't actually wearing a sailor's cap, but when you looked at him, you felt he ought to be.
Buster (Merryfield) must be just about the only person who wrote away for a role in an established television sitcom (Only Fools and Horses) and got it.
[crashing into the audience on a sitcom] Delivering lines without waiting for the laughter to die down.
[Lennard Pearce on Only Fools and Horses] Nick (Lyndhurst) and I used to tease him, saying he was a lazy sod and that we were basically a 20-minute warm-up act for his one killer gag. Lennard would just say, 'I'm old - I'm allowed."
[Buster Merryfield, one of his co-stars from Only Fools and Horses] He was funny by instinct and he knew where the laugh was and how to get it. He had that amazing look about him - an eccentric face, the face of someone whom you immediately wanted to like.
Who would have thought that Jim (Broadbent) would go on from here (Only Fools and Horses) to make The Borrowers and then on to Hollywood? I could never work out why he didn't take me with him.
[Ray Butt, one of the directors on Only Fools and Horses] He did love a gin and tonic, that man. Purely recreationally of course.
[fly-pitching on Only Fools and Horses] Del's core business. I loved doing them - the patter, the banter, the rhythm.
It stands to reason that you can't go on television over and over again and not get recognized every now and again.
Fame would operate to restrict my life.
[on Only Fools and Horses and Minder] A kind of rivalry between the two programs was easy to connect by the press. Minder was a show I loved to watch, so the rivalry didn't feel particularly hostile to me, but I guess it was a good story for the papers.
[John Sullivan's writing on Only Fools and Horses and elsewhere] Classic.
There was a (Second World) war on. There was a lot of death about.
[he and Nicholas Lyndhurst after Only Fools and Horses became a giant success] Both of us were beginning to learn some lessons about fame and beginning to make adjustments.
As a baby, I was given a carrot as a pacifier.
[his height] Less than statuesque.
[he, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Buster Merryfield appearing on the Royal Variety Performance in 1986] The nerves between the three of us would have powered a wind turbine.
[on Only Fools and Horses] The show was capturing the nation's attention to an extent that none of us had conceived it would, even in our wildest and most optimistic imaginings.
[the day he was born] My memories are bound to be a bit patchy.
[a glider] A glorified Perspex tube.
I was to get most of my growing done by about the age of fourteen when I reached five foot six and my body decided that it had had enough of lengthening and left it at that.
[Buster Merryfield refusing to join him and Nicholas Lyndhurst for a drink] All the more for me and Nick.
[the answer to questions during the production chaos on A Royal Flush, a notoriously troubled episode of Only Fools and Horses] Fuck knows.
You want to be watching television on Christmas Day, not appearing live on it.
[he and Bob Monkhouse at the Royal Variety Performance in 1986] That night I'm sure we both felt like we were a long way from Weston-Super-Mare.
[nerves evaporate] They will when an audience is immediately responsive.
[the Royal Variety Performance in 1986] A lovely interlude.
[Bob Monkhouse] My old colleague.
[on filming] The peculiar sights you would see and walk past and find people taking absolutely for granted, as if they were the most normal thing in the world.
In television the money has always gravitated towards drama.
[on a proper theatrical exit in a Shakespeare play] You go, you pause, you slightly come back, you go again. Play it right, and you could virtually guarantee a round of applause, no matter what had happened in your exit speech.
I loved being part of huge set pieces. It enabled me to give some rein to my film-actor fantasies. It was certainly very different from the slightly grab-it-and-run Only Fools and Horses shoots.
[his reply when people doubted that Only Fools and Horses could work beyond 30 minutes in length] Yes, that's true of average writers. But we're talking about John (Sullivan). And you must agree: we keep cutting gold.
[one of his most famous scenes from Only Fools and Horses] Olivier had his Othello, Gielgud his Lear, Branagh has his Hamlet; I have my falling through a pub bar flap. And do you know what? I'm perfectly happy with that.
[extending the running time for episodes of Only Fools and Horses] This was the point where Only Fools and Horses really came into its own as a comedy-drama, rather than as a sitcom. It wasn't just that there was now time to get more of John Sullivan's great lines in; there was now more space in which things could unfold.
You should never hold an artist back from realizing his vision.
[winning BAFTAs] This, to my astonishment, was getting to be a bit of a habit.
[playing on bomb sites as a child] The (Second World) war had gifted us the perfect playground.
[winning a BAFTA for the first time] That felt incredible. My knees were shaking - but, even so, they felt like the bee's knees. I felt like I had arrived - like I was finally someone who counted. It was nice to be a winner. I had always been very insecure about my abilities as an actor, but that night, sitting among my peers, I allowed myself to feel very proud of what I'd done.
[his childhood scrapes] If the wounds didn't get you, there was a decent chance the treatment would. It's a wonder I made it through this period at all.
[The Darling Buds of May] I don't suppose any of us had even the faintest inkling at that stage of exactly how mind-bogglingly successful this project would be. I certainly didn't.
The world of entertainment was moving on rapidly.
Black-tie showbusiness occasions don't make me very comfortable. It was a bit like going willingly to your own execution.
[The Darling Buds of May] I didn't want it to be a studio production. If they did it on film, I knew the series would at least look good and have some quality about it, even if nothing happened.
The characters I tended to be known for playing - Del Boy merely the most prominent among them - had their foibles but were meant to be essentially forgivable and lovable. They were great seekers of the audience's sympathy.
[his first thoughts after reading the novel of The Darling Buds of May] I thought it was charming - a bucolic piece about a ramshackle, convention-snubbing farming family who woo the tax inspector into moving in with them in order to deflect him from inspecting their rather dodgy tax situation.
[waiting for the next acting job] Like Mr Micawber, I was hoping for something to turn up.
[his first thoughts about the series, The Darling Buds of May] It'll either be enormously successful or it'll fall flat on it's face. It was enormously successful.
[during his childhood] Girls might as well have been another species for all that we had to do with them at that stage.
As occupied as I was, there was always the drive within me - the basic actorly thing. Be someone different. Be someone else. And take the work while it's there to be taken.
A Bit of a Do ran to two series, went down well with critics and viewers, and put me on Yorkshire Television's radar - to the extent that, in the event of a part coming up in...I don't know...let's say a family drama series set in rural Kent in the 1950s and destined to become a national, award-winning smash hit (The Darling Buds of May), then I would be well placed to be considered for it.
[the baker who did his 50th birthday cake] The man was an artist with the marzipan.
If I hadn't got a part in A Bit of a Do, I might not have ended up appearing in The Darling Buds of May. And if I hadn't got a part in The Darling Buds of May, I might not have ever ended up appearing in A Touch of Frost.
[Tessa Peake-Jones and Gwyneth Strong, two of his co-stars from Only Fools and Horses] Those two knew what they were doing and fitted straight into the team.
[his 50th birthday party] It was a lovely, high-spirited evening, and the nicest of surprises.
[best actor at the BAFTAs] Even to be shortlisted in that category was an honor.
Times have changed, and customs with them.
A baby couldn't upstage you or tell you your lines.
[The Darling Buds of May] The set constantly hummed with the smell of frying bacon and the crew would be walking around with drool hanging out of their mouths.
[on putting on weight playing Pop Larkin, he couldn't fit into a dinner jacket for the BAFTA Awards] I looked like Hardy wearing something belonging to Laurel.
[Catherine Zeta-Jones in The Darling Buds of May] The show's big discovery.
Normally, in the real world, your eyes range a bit around the face of the person you're talking to, but in a closeup of someone's face, that natural eye movement gets exaggerated and can look a bit odd, as if your eyes are shooting around in their sockets. If you fix your focus on one place on your interlocutor's face, it holds your eyes steady in the shot.
[Pop and Ma Larkin from The Darling Buds of May] Loving, cheeky, generous, trusting.
[Pop Larkin] The role made a few unusual demands on me.
Altogether the cast (of The Darling Buds of May) felt like a family off the set as well as on it. We genuinely liked each other and I think an extra degree of warmth came through because of that.
[Catherine Zeta-Jones' Hollywood success] It was exclusively down to me. Thanks to my careful tuition, she was ready for her closeup. She got her part as Mariette (on The Darling Buds of May) dead on, with just the right mix of innocence and coquettishness. Hollywood stardom couldn't have happened to anyone nicer.
[Catherine Zeta-Jones] She was extremely beautiful, and you knew the camera was going to love her. She was also as lovely a person as she looked.
[Pam Ferris, one of his co-stars on The Darling Buds of May] She was down-to-Earth, which I immediately liked about her, and we relaxed in each other's company very quickly.
Philip (Franks in The Darling Buds of May) was so perfectly cast. He had sent most of his career in the theatre and he was a great team player because of that.
[before he got cast as Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds of May] If someone ever asks you if you would be interested in milking a cow, say yes. You never know when it might come in handy in your professional life.
Kids have minds like sponges.
[driving an old Army vehicle, painted up to look like a Rolls-Royce in The Darling Buds of May] Largely unrelated to what we generally think of as driving these days. It had a crash gearbox, with a lever that virtually tore your shoulder out of its socket, and steering which provided a comprehensive upper-body workout.
You rarely knew, at the end of a series (of Only Fools and Horses), whether there would be another, because commissioning normally happened subsequently. So you just had to hang on and hope and see what the stars and (the show's creator) John Sullivan came up with.
[being helped into bed, pajamas and with a plastic bottle] The indignity that the elderly know.
[The Darling Buds of May] The series was a high-quality piece of work altogether. We owed a lot to the whole team put together.
[after Barry Gibb's cameo in an episode of Only Fools and Horses set in Miami] Barry was wonderfully self-effacing. His house was a palace.
[after Richard Branson's cameo in Only Fools and Horses] I assumed, that a happy lifetime of free rides and regular upgrades lay ahead of me. Alas, I was wrong. Showbusiness can be a very cruel industry.
[Richard Branson's cameo in Only Fools and Horses] The great publicist. Charming, but would it be unreasonable to say that I've seen better actors?
[The Darling Buds of May] It was very much the way of things on that show. We all looked after each other. Which stands to reason: we were one big (and overfed) family.
[his ideas for Heroes and Villains, when Del Boy and Rodney dress up as Batman and Robin] They had to be tired, tatty and ill-fitting, but to get the full comedy out of the moment, they should look like Batman and Robin. When we finally got that shot of them running through the smoke, it just lent itself even more to the ridiculous.
The message of (The) Darling Buds (of May) was the message of Only Fools (and Horses) too: that the most important thing is what happens at home and with the family.
[playing Batman in Only Fools and Horses] The dream role, satisfying the burning aspiration to play a superhero which had been planted in me by the Dan Dare comic strips of my childhood.
[doing Only Fools and Horses Christmas Specials] It was as if we hadn't stopped. You just fell straight back into the way of things. I would put on Del Boy again and find that he fitted like a pair of wonderful old carpet slippers.
[on Heroes and Villains, the Batman and Robin episode of Only Fools and Horses] One of the rare occasions on which Batman has been cast shorter than his crime-busting partner. Still, that was Only Fools and Horses for you - never inclined to do things conventionally. That episode is still one that people go back to and talk about. The sight of Del Boy and Rodney running through the streets in full costume, the least likely world-savers you have ever seen, struck a loud bell with viewers which just carried on ringing.
[Al Capone] A kind of (Del Boy) Trotter in his way, albeit a bit more violent.
[gaining more and more control over his career] The form had always been: 'we're going to produce x, would you like to play y? To find myself in the position where someone was asking me what I wanted to do - effectively sitting opposite me with a blank sheet of paper in front of them and an expectant expression...well, this was a shock and it was a pretty stunning indication to me of the giddy heights to which I had somehow ascended.
[when asked for the first time what he'd like to do as an actor] The thing I like watching is detective shows. I'd love to play a detective.
[meeting Michael Douglas] My first sight of this great Hollywood star was as he came towards me, hand extended, just out of the pool, dripping wet, with Bermuda shorts on. All very relaxed.
Only Fools and Horses seemed to be about as popular as it was possible for a television show to get. Perfick!
How hard it is and how unfair it seems, letting go of someone you know so well.
[on The Darling Buds of May] The idyll it depicted spoke very directly to people - and to people of all ages. It was a kind of television show that was already falling out of favor and which has continued to decline - a program that families watched together. And what they saw was this wonderful loving family, with kids they adored, sitting round at Sunday dinners, piling into the back of a truck and singing...people watched it and thought, "wouldn't we all love a little bit of that, if it were possible?"
[the Batman and Robin episode of Only Fools and Horses] If I go back to Bristol, the one they all remember is Batman and Robin. That's the one they always come up and say, "I was there". It really seemed to chime.
I was a young lad who had lived among the bricks and mortar of London.
A fairly deep streak of eccentricity ran through the family.
I was a sucker for sitting down in front of Poirot, Inspector Morse, Inspector Wexford, Dalgliesh, Prime Suspect - any of those police procedural dramas. I loved all that - people like to unravel a mystery, don't they? That's what I like to do, when I'm watching - try and beat the detective to it.
[Paddington Station in London] A stunning scene of noise and smoke.
[on convincing the Yorkshire Television executives he was the right actor to play Detective Inspector Jack Frost] I launched into a spontaneous paragraph about how popular the genre was and how I saw the chance to explore a slightly darker edge in the character of Frost, while throwing in a bit about the superiority of the English approach to TV detective shows (audience attempts to solve crime in tandem with the detective) to the American approach (audience is shown the crime and the criminal at the start of the story, and then follows the detective's trail to the guilty party).
A Touch of Frost was contemporary, clever, dark and revolved around unpleasantness like murders of drug addicts and robberies at strip clubs. Frost was shabby, bitter, caustic and a commanding character, unlike Pop Larkin.
[The Darling Buds of May's wrap party] It was a very jolly affair.
[watching the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at age 13] You've never seen such a crowd gathered in a single sitting-room.
[watching TV for the first time at age 13] Unthinkable levels of magic. I rather liked the look of television. My hunch was that it had a great future ahead of it, if it ever managed to catch on.
[18 years as Detective Inspector Jack Frost] A long time to spend in the skin of a shabby detective. But, boy, I did love playing that part.
They don't call me Derek Trotter for nothing.
[paying full price for a house like Toad Hall after losing a coin toss] So much for my standing as a wheeler-dealer.
[lonely after his first wife's death] How I felt.
[Detective Inspector Jack Frost] I would have happily played him forever.
[Detective Inspector Jack Frost] He bowed out pretty spectacularly.
[the end of Only Fools and Horses] It was very emotional and difficult to compute. We all knew this wasn't the kind of experience that comes twice in your life. What a series. So many brilliant moments and lines; such clever writing. (John) Sullivan was a traditionalist, in a way: he made the characters do the work and they didn't need to resort to extremities of language or action. Yet there was such tremendous light and shade. Only Fools had a death, it had a miscarriage, it had a birth...the more John saw how we worked together, the more he felt he could push into areas where comedy didn't ever go. It was great, honest stuff and it touched people's lives. We had most of the nation behind us, really, when we properly got going.
[Only Fools and Horses] It was just a TV sitcom, and yet how the tentacles of that program reached out.
[the second Only Fools and Horses trilogy from 2001-2003] A few critics felt we shouldn't have gone back to it - that the bow neatly tied in 1996 was now undone again. But people seemed to want it, the BBC definitely wanted it, and that weight of anticipation is very hard to resist. And John (Sullivan) was writing it, so all of us had no hesitation in saying yes.
[his homemade rockets] You've never seen anything so camp in all your life. The masterpiece was a Saturn V replica with one of the biggest engines so it was a complex build. It launched like the real thing by hovering above the pad and set off into the sky.
[the Only Fools and Horses Christmas trilogy from 1996] For many people, the story's true conclusion. The moment when the curtain came down. Everything about the narrative pointed to these being the last ever episodes.
[the RAF] I was in awe at what they do and their bravery at spirit.
[the 24.3 million viewers who watched Time on our Hands, the original ending to Only Fools and Horses where the Trotters became millionaires] A staggering number. It made me dizzy to think about it. You simply couldn't get it into your head how popular this show had grown to be.
I needed other people. People who must so often have tried unsuccessfully to attract my attention while I was sunk fathoms - deep in work, but who, to my unending gratitude, were loyal and still there now that I was thrashing around on the surface. I felt as needy as a baby in those times - utterly lost - and they took care of me.
[John Sullivan, the writer and creator of Only Fools and Horses, after his death] Too soon. His loss devastated us all. I could only meet his death with disbelief. You can't believe you're never going to see that person again, that they're just gone. It's the most difficult thing in the world.
The impact of Only Fools and Horses and the way that people responded to it was constantly surprising to me and continues to do so.
The problem with film shoots was that there were bound to be some portions of empty time - time when all you could do was sit around and wait. And if left hanging about in my caravan too long, I would sometimes fight the urge to nod off. I needed something to keep myself going in those downtimes.
Nobody has ever written to offer me a flat in Peckham, on the grounds of my expertise as Del Boy, nor indeed a corner shop in Doncaster, on the grounds of my expertise as Granville.
[watching the Only Fools and Horses episode A Jolly Boys Outing in Afghanistan with the troops] Watching these wally-brains on the screen, mucking about, being ridiculously British, took those battered lads out of themselves. Somehow it lifted their morale out of the dust and it began to stand them the right way up again. It was the start of the healing process, after which they could go on. It made me realize that I had no idea how far what we did carried, and only the vaguest sense of its true repercussions. Yes, Only Fools was just a sitcom - and what could be more frivolous or irrelevant? You're just arsing about in front of a camera and getting paid to make yourself laugh. Yet what you do goes out there and has effects beyond any you could ever have imagined at the time.
Breast cancer is such a blight.
[the war in Afghanistan] Bad times.
How life came round full circle.
From a purely practical point of view, smoking is a nightmare for continuity - you've got to watch the length of the ash all the time, otherwise it looks like someone has sucked down three-quarters of a cigarette in the time it takes someone else to come through the door. The less smoking you've got going on in a scene, the easier life is for everybody.
[A Touch of Frost] As a man who passed from his fifties deep into his sixties during the course of this show, I wasn't likely to be knocking my pipe out until four in the morning, was I? I figured it was better to put my head in a paint pot for a couple of hours and wind down that way.
[seeing a house like Toad Hall] It was wonderful and seemed to go on forever, and even had a lake, fed by its own spring. It may not be Toad Hall, but I could imagine myself living here. Pretty much twice the value of the house I already owned. Just driving up to the house again made me realize how much I wanted it.
Whenever I'm out and about and I see a film unit at work, I still feel that glow of excitement I used to get, driving onto the set to work.
(A Touch of) Frost was also the show on which I started doing rocket launches - to great acclaim, I must say. Well, sometimes.
Drinking other people's teas and coffees became something of a habit for (Detective Inspector Jack) Frost - a little humanizing moment which chased through the series to make him more than just an efficient cop.
[the mountain behind his cottage] Wonderful view.
Once, there had been a time when I could work to the exclusion of everything else. Oh, I could immerse myself in work the way I could immerse myself while diving. I could let it fill my ears and sink right down into it until I was entirely absorbed by it, and until it was the only thing that was going on and the only thing that mattered.
[the death of a loved one] It's not a thing I would want anyone to go through, nor a thing I find easy to go back over.
[the end of Time on our Hands, the episode of Only Fools and Horses where the Trotters finally became millionaires] The Trotters now officially on their way to wealth.
You can fight age hard, but unfortunately age hasn't lost a battle yet.
[losing his first wife and meeting his second wife] I didn't expect to find someone new and settle down. I thought I'd had my chance of that and it had gone. How fortunate for me that I was wrong.
[Del Boy coming back at 65 and what had become of everyone from Only Fools and Horses] I was up for it. I thought anything was possible in (the show's writer and creator) John Sullivan's hands.
[using work to ease the pain of losing his first wife] Even though work was no longer the great healer, I still had work to do.
[A Touch of Frost] One of the country's favorite drama serials. We had come on a bit of a journey. It was nice to reach this point on the road.
I don't think any television show I've done, with the possible exception of Only Fools (and Horses), prompted quite so much mucking about on the part of the people involved in it as (A Touch of) Frost did. Certainly no show I've ever done prompted quite such elaborate mucking about.
Everybody who's moved house knows how stressful that is.
[A Touch of Frost's popularity] The hunch had well and truly paid off.
[Detective Inspector Jack Frost] A detective to whom sergeants got seconded, to learn the trade. There were a couple of regulars, but new assistants kept A Touch of Frost fresh, gave Frost new characters to bounce off and challenge his slightly set view of the world.
[David] A good name for a boy - kind of resolute, and noble.
[naming his child Sophie after doing The BFG] The name had extra resonance for me.
[his first baby] The baby was now a date in the diary which I at least found reassuring amid the mounting anticipation.
[the perfect wedding] A way that wouldn't create stress and fuss.
The good fortune showered upon me in these recent years is, I am truly aware, more than any man would have a right to dream of. Oh, and the knighthood. I nearly forgot the knighthood.
[becoming a father at the age of 60] Something else I thought I had missed, something else for which I thought the time had swept by while I was below the surface, at work. How lucky is that?
[when he was offered a knighthood] There had been no word of warning of this. It was totally out of the blue. Naturally, I assumed a wind-up and checked for evidence of the hand of the usual suspects.
[on the birth of his baby] I put on the gown and mask and was admitted to the inner sanctum to watch as the doctors delivered a 9lb 6oz girl; my Sophie Mae. She was handed to me and the room seemed suddenly very still and I had my first moments with my daughter. The press arrived the next day and stayed there a whole week until we left the hospital in a flurry of snow without any PR people to help. Everyone who has done it knows what it's like to bring a newborn baby home for the first time - knows the nervousness and the anxiety and warmth and wonderment.
[naming his daughter Sophie Mae] It sounded nice when you put the two together.
[starting a family] I quite liked the idea of continuing the line.
[flying by helicopter for the first time] I really loved it and I decided to learn to fly one myself. It's the most difficult thing I've ever mastered: your hands and your feet have to work in contrary motion to one another. It's a bit like playing the drums, I guess, although with greater risk of death. Yet I did it, and I did it when I was in my sixties, and I'm very proud of that.
With helicopters, you work your way up gradually: a little solo trip around a field at first, and then, as part of your exam, a solo cross-country flight to designated points. The first time I attempted that, I managed to get lost and I had to land in a field to ask a farmer for directions. Poor bloke. He was surprised enough to see a helicopter come down on his land and even more surprised to see Del Boy get out of it. I failed the exam, needless to say, and by next week the story of the bozo who got lost on his cross-country test was all around the airfield. Still, I passed eventually, and with the need I now had to get to meetings and locations up and down the country, I managed to rationalize buying my own little machine - a four-seater Robinson 44, my mechanical pride and joy.
[the end of Only Fools and Horses] Now the show really was over. While it's up and running, a program such as that is like this complete world that you exist in. But when it's done, the sets get packed up and removed, and the costumes go away, and the whole thing lives on only on a piece of tape. You can't actually go back there. So you have to consign it to the list of those things that were great and wonderful and fun...and utterly gone. I do miss it badly.
[a red carpet film premiere or an awards ceremony] You should linger in front of the photographers, smile graciously and lap up the attention, for it may not be yours forever, not even next week. But I'm normally clammy-palmed with a combination of fear and embarrassment, rushing along the carpet, blinking blindly into the flashlights.
I was made a Sir in the Queen's Birthday Honors of 2005. I felt very humbled - and maybe even a little awkward about it. For me, those kinds of titles go to heroes in battle or to heroes in charity. To get one for acting, which doesn't seem to me to have any parity with those things...well, I found that a bit hard to get my head around. Still, it was on offer. I was hardly going to turn it down, was I? The date was set for my investiture on 1 December. On its own, it was a thrilling and momentous prospect for me.
I get recognized and it can get a little out of hand.
If it's a nice day, I might fly my helicopter. Which sounds a bit flash, I suppose: a bit 'TV's man of action', as the TV Times once had it - you might even say a bit 'celebrity lifestyle'. But there it is.
[starting a family at the age of 60] Older than people conventionally are when they think about these things.
On a hot Summer's day in Wales, and just occasionally, you did get one of those...
Wales was a magical place to my boyhood self.
Now, who's the bigger star, do you suppose: me or Jack Nicholson? Well, naturally, it's Jack Nicholson. But he's such a big star that there's something slightly intimidating about him. People kept their distance. Whereas I'm Del, I'm Pop Larkin: I'm approachable. Which is lovely of course, and better than having people cross the road to avoid you, I'm sure. And better still than having people cross the road to your side in order to poke you in the eye with a burnt stick. And yet...well, sometimes you end up deciding it'll be more comfortable for everyone if you stay at home. Inevitably, it affects my life a little. There are things I can't do. I just have to accept that. Legoland, Thorpe Park...but people gather.
I spent an awful lot of the Summers of my childhood determinedly crossing my legs clenching my buttocks, evacuating my bowels and bladder only as a very last resort.
[his second wedding and his impending knighthood] The marriage took place at 5pm in a beautiful room at the hotel. It was intimate and romantic and just the happiest time. Afterwards everyone came back for cocktails and canapés and to cut the cake. The following morning, I arose a married man and went straight off to become a bachelor. Or, at any rate, a knight bachelor.
The garden, the workshop - those are the places I'm happiest. I like to have a project on the go - something to restore, something to fix. The pond needs cleaning? That's my idea of a good time. I love anything in the garden, actually. I've built two steam engines which you can sit astride, and a raised five-inch gauge track in the garden, which travels between two stations, with a bridge over the pond and a tunnel. I used to sit there with my knees up around my ears, stoke the coal in the tender, sound the whistle and steam out around the perimeter of the garden.
[when he announced his second wedding at a party to celebrate his knighthood] The place erupted with cheering and thumping on the tables.
The general trend was for the London part of the family to visit the Welsh part, rather than the other way around.
[on becoming a knight and getting married all in the same day] Amazing. A married man, a Sir, and all inside twenty-four blissful hours. I would have loved Ronnie Barker to have been there that day and shared this with us all. He was a man whom I thought more deserving of a knighthood than me. Alas, Ronnie had died two months previously. But earlier in the year, when my knighthood was announced, he had, typically sent me a poem to commemorate the event, and at the lunch I declaimed it, so at least he was there in word: Congratulations, little feed/her gracious Majesty decreed/that Granville, little errand lad/and Del Boy, Frost, and others had/ all served their nation passing well/so here's to Granville, Frost and Del! The old ex-Guvnor's proud to see/his comrade reach such high degree/knight of the realm, and TV star/who never thought he'd get this far. 'Arise, Sir David', she will say/the sword upon your shoulder lay. I raise a glass filled to the brim/and truly say, 'Good Knight from him.'
[his brushes with death] Sundry.
I don't know if you have ever been attacked by a cockerel, but if you haven't, then allow me to tell you that it's an experience with very little to recommend it.
[on becoming a Sir] Completing the totally implausible journey from Lodge Lane to Buckingham Palace. I went down on one knee on the foot stool and the Queen stepped forward and touched me on both shoulders with the sword. I'll let you into a little secret here: she doesn't actually say 'Arise, Sir David'. The whole 'arise' thing turns out to be an urban myth and not a part of the ceremony. Shame, really. It's a good line. She should use it. However, afterwards, I stood and the Queen said, 'You've been in the business a long time'. I don't know why, but I found myself telling her I hoped I hadn't done anything to offend her at any point. She laughed and said that so far as she was aware, I hadn't.

Salary (2)

Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) $69,000
All the King's Men (1999) 250,000 pounds (UK)

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