We talk to David Jason as he guides Middlesex amateur dramatics group The Argosy Players towards their West End debut in The Show Must Go On! on Five (Monday, June 7)…

So what appealed to you with this project?
“My entire career has grown from my time in amateur theatre. It’s what gave me my dedication and love for the theatre. I still don’t know why I had this desire to act – I suppose it’s because in my own life I was very shy, so I liked to express myself through characters, through being somebody else. Acting gave me the confidence.”

Did you always want to become an actor?
“There was never a moment that I decided it was an actor’s life for me. It just grew and grew and grew and got more and more important. The only time I really enjoyed anything was when I was going out of an evening to act at the theatre. I got less and less inclined to work and more and more inclined to be in the theatre. So here I am!”

It was a long time ago that you did the play, but did the lines pop back into your head watching rehearsals??
“No, they had completely gone. Well, I have done quite a lot since then! But one thing I can say is that even though I was very, very young, I played it very differently to the chap who is playing it now. I played him as a very old character – and I suppose have played those characters ever since.”

So amateur dramatics is as popular as it has even been?
“What is not known is how many people are involved in amateur dramatics in this country. Why do these people do it? Who are they? You have bank managers, doctors, students, every walk of life – and yet, for some strange reason, they want a hobby where they get up on the stage and perform in front of an audience.”

What surprised you the most about the Argosy Players?
“I was surprised to find out how much social activity the theatre gives amateur performers. So it is becoming a very interesting journey, more about people and their aspirations, rather than just putting on a play. The social side didn’t interest me much. You got to have an almost monk-like attitude to the theatre if you want to make it your life story.”

Do you think a lot of your success is down to your amateur theatre roots?
“I owe the amateur theatre a lot. If they had told me then about the career I would have, I would not have believed them in a million years. But I didn’t do it for that, I did it because I loved it.”