David Jason: ‘I felt Ronnie’s influence in Still Open All Hours’

Sir David Jason tells TV Times magazine why he wants Ronnie Barker to be proud of Still Open All Hours and why they just had to bring back that temperamental till…

Hi David. Open All Hours is a real classic. After nearly 30 years did you have any misgivings about returning to a show that people so fondly remember?
“Yes and one felt quite a responsibility to try and ensure that it would be as entertaining as when Ronnie Barker had made it. When we filmed the outside scenes in Doncaster it was a bit like stepping back in time because the shop we use was exactly the same and so was the whole street.”

Was it hard filming without Ronnie Barker, who died in 2005?
“We did feel Ronnie’s influence when we were filming and when people first saw the photos of me standing in the shop doorway they said that for a second they thought it was Ronnie. I wear the same gear Ronnie wore and for a minute it’s like, ‘God, the old man is back!'”

Was it good having the script written by Roy Clarke – the show’s original writer?
“Roy Clarke wrote it in a very whimsical manner originally and that wonderful style hasn’t changed.”

How has the premise of the show changed?
“It was Arkwright and Granville, now it’s Granville and Leroy (played by James Baxter, pictured). So the pecking order is I’m at the top and he’s at the bottom and that’s all there is to it!”

And the till is back too!
“You couldn’t do Open All Hours without the till! For some reason everybody loves that till.”

How does Granville run the shop?
“He’s been so trained by Arkwright that he’s adopted his ways of running a shop. Like Arkwright, he’s locked in the past and knows that the cheapest way to deliver goods is by bike, so he tries to sell the idea to Leroy of how wonderfully nostalgic making the deliveries by bike would be. He tells him it has tradition, elegance and style, just like Harrods, but I’m not sure this gets through to Leroy.”

Was it hard getting back on the bike again?
“That bike was a pain in the butt in more ways that one because the gears hadn’t been sorted out properly and it was quite difficult to ride, but it was wonderful to see it again.”

Why do you think Still Open All Hours has come back for Christmas?
“We’re out to entertain and I think the BBC felt there was a gap in the market for family viewing and that’s why this is aimed at the Christmas period. We want to make people enjoy all these silly characters again.”

Still Open All Hours can be seen on Boxing Day at 7.45pm on BBC1.