David Jason was almost in Dad's Army and he can fly a helicopter...
David Jason, 79, is best known for playing Derek “Del Boy” Trotter in Only Fools and Horses and Granville in Still Open All Hours, which is currently showing on BBC1.
During his legendary career, David has also starred in a huge number of other hits including The Darling Buds of May and A Touch of Frost. But what about the man himself?
Here’s 7 things you didn’t know about Only Fools star Sir David Jason…
1. David Jason’s real name isn’t David Jason!
David Jason was actually born David John White on 2nd February 1940 in Edmonton, Middlesex. And like many actors he took a stage name. He once revealed during a television interview that he picked out the name David Jason due to his love of the classic 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts. David started out in amateur theatre in North London. “I just found, for some reason, that I identified with it, I was actually quite good at it, I enjoyed it” he once told us.
2. David was convinced The Darling Buds of May was going to either be a huge hit or a big flop!
David famously starred as Sidney “Pop” Larkin alongside future Hollywood movie star Catherine Zeta-Jones in ITV’s The Darling Buds of May, which was based on the books by H.E. Bates.
David once told us: “When I first read the book when I was first offered the part I think it’s fair enough to say I said to my agent at the time, ‘Well this will either be a huge success or it will be a huge flop” and she said: ‘Why?’ and I replied: ‘Because there’s nothing in it’.” It turned out David needn’t have worried!
3. He is a qualified helicopter pilot
David is an experienced helicopter pilot. He once told the Daily Telegraph that he started flying when he was only 28. “I never thought I was academically gifted at school. But when I started flying I found you didn’t need an academic mind – you just needed determination and dedication.”
4. David Jason has one daughter
David became a dad for the first time aged 61 in 2001 when his partner, now wife, Gill Hinchcliffe gave birth to a baby girl.
Talking about why they called their daughter Sophie Mae, David revealed at the time: “We didn’t choose her name until after she was born. She’s not named after anyone in either of our families, but we just liked the name and it seemed to suit her perfectly.”
5. David Jason kept some very special souvenirs from Only Fools and Horses
Who can forget the episode of Only Fools when Del Boy “discovered” Peckham Spring on his allotment and started selling tap water to the nation?! Well David revealed that he kept some as a souvenir! “I’ve got a couple of bottles of Peckham Spring water,” he once told The Mirror. “I’ll keep them for ever. I won’t drink them. After all, it’s BBC water and not only that, would you drink something Del Trotter had made?”
6. David’s older brother is also an actor!
David, whose twin brother sadly died during childbirth, has an older brother Arthur White, who’s also an actor. Must be in the blood! Arthur appeared alongside David in 27 episodes of A Touch of Frost as archivist Ernie Trigg and he worked alongside David again in the comedy fantasy The Colour of Magic. Arthur’s enjoyed numerous other parts in shows like Crossroads and The Professionals.
7. Don’t panic! David almost played Lance-Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army!!
David was a whisker away from playing Lance-Corporal Jones in classic comedy Dad’s Army. Clive Dunn, who famously ended up playing Jones, had been approached but initially couldn’t take the role due to a filming clash.
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David recalled on This Morning once: “I came up for the part in the morning and at 12 o’clock they said, ‘You’ve got the part’. I was elated. This was going to be a big deal for me.” But later David discovered he’d been ditched for Clive, who’d found out he was free after all. “They dumped me,” David recalled. It didn’t work out badly for David or Clive though!