James Buckley: ‘I take playing Del very seriously’

James Buckley returns as a young Del Boy in a Christmas special of Rock and Chips. And he reveals this is where Del’s wheeling and dealing begins…

What makes this episode, Five Gold Rings, really Christmassy?

“There’s a bit more fun in it than the first episode of Rock and Chips, shown earlier this year, but I think that’s just because it’s Christmas time and everyone’s a bit jollier anyway. And there’s FAR too much knitwear.”

How does the story unfold?

“It’s Christmas 1960 and a young Del, Boycie and the gang are living in south-east London at a time when there’s a lot of poverty and they’re all just trying to make a living. But it’s really about the love story between Del’s mum Joan (Kellie Bright) and Freddie the Frog (Nicholas Lyndhurst) – it’s their relationship that people will be interested in.”

Tell us more about 16-year-old Del?

“At 16, Del’s already involved in his wheeling and dealing. Del’s had to take responsibility because his mum’s just had baby Rodney and his dad’s basically useless. He’s taken it upon himself to make sure there’s money coming into the house and that he pays the rent and puts food on the table. Family is very important to him.”

Do we see more of Del’s relationship with mum Joan?

“Del and Joan do have this really close relationship, they do care a lot about each other. Del idolises his mum, she’s his hero really. You do see a lot of Joan in Del.”

And we hear that Del tries his luck with the ladies…

“Del comes up with a little scheme to try and woo the girls – with little success! He has a few fiancees, but I’m not sure that he genuinely wants to getting married… He just wants to have some fun.”

What’s it been like playing the younger version of such an iconic character?

“I did take playing Del very seriously, he has a huge fan base and I didn’t want to let anybody down. When I met Sir David Jason, he never said what I should be doing or anything. Sir David is a national treasure and you feel that when he’s around; he has that special aura about him.”

As you’re such a fan of Only Fools and Horses, was it strange working with Nicholas Lyndhurst?

“It was very odd to begin with because when you see Nick you obviously think of Rodney, who was a great character and brilliantly played. I think Nick is one of the best comedic actors this country’s ever produced and really underrated.”

What was it like working with the rest of the cast?

“As a young actor, it’s been such a good thing for me to learn from the likes of Nick, Kellie and Phil (Daniels). On The Inbetweeners, I’m used to working with three other boys of the same age and we’ve all been doing the job for a similar amount of time. Plus, it’s good to work with actual professionals… rather than amateurs [laughs]!”

Speaking of Simon, Joe and Blake, what’s happening with the Inbetweeners movie?

“We’ve filmed 20 seconds of footage in Malia. The film is about a lads’ holiday so we had to rush out there just to get a shot of us walking up the strip. We’re all ready to start shooting in January – and if people like the film hopefully we might make another one.”

*Rock and Chips: Five Gold Rings can be seen on Wednesday, December 29 at 9pm on BBC1