David Jason

Sir David John White OBE (born 2 February 1940),[3][4] known professionally by his stage name David Jason, is an English actor. He is best known for his roles as Derek "Del Boy" Trotter in the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses, Detective Inspector Jack Frost in A Touch of Frost, Granville in Open All Hours and Still Open All Hours, and Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds of May, as well as voicing Mr. Toad in The Wind in the Willows, the BFG in the 1989 film, and the title characters of Danger Mouse and Count Duckula. His most recent appearance in the role of Del Boy was in 2014; he retired his role as Frost in 2010. He voices Captain Skipper, the uncle of Pip in the preschool focused series Pip Ahoy!


David Jason

Jason in 2012
Born
David John White

(1940-02-02) 2 February 1940
OccupationActor
Years active1963–present
Spouse
Gill Hinchcliffe
(m. 2005)
[1]
PartnerMyfanwy Talog (1977–1995, her death)[2]
Children1
RelativesArthur White (brother)

In September 2006, Jason topped the poll to find TV's 50 Greatest Stars, as part of ITV's 50th anniversary celebrations.[5] He was knighted in 2005 for services to acting and comedy. Jason has won four British Academy Television Awards (BAFTAs), (1988, 1991, 1997, 2003), four British Comedy Awards (1990, 1992, 1997, 2001) and seven National Television Awards (1996 twice, 1997, 2001 twice, 2002 and 2011).

Early life

Jason's father, Arthur Robert White, was a porter at Billingsgate Fish Market, and his mother, Olwen Jones, was from Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Wales, and worked as a charwoman. She gave birth to twin boys at North Middlesex Hospital in Edmonton, London, in February 1940, but Jason's twin brother died during childbirth, making him a twinless twin. He chose the stage name Jason because he liked Jason and the Argonauts, as the stage name "David White" was already taken, and not in tribute to his dead twin as has sometimes been claimed.[6]

Jason lived at Lodge Lane, North Finchley, and attended Northfield Secondary Modern school after failing the 11-plus in 1951.[7] Upon leaving school, Jason wanted to be an actor, influenced by his brother, but their father advised that he first learn a trade. He trained as an electrician for six years, before retiring and becoming a struggling actor.

Jason's elder brother is the actor Arthur White, born in 1933. The two appeared together in the crime drama A Touch of Frost, with Arthur playing police archivist Ernie Trigg; and again in 2008, in the comic fantasy The Colour of Magic, where Arthur played a character called "Rerpf". He also appeared briefly with his brother in two episodes of The Darling Buds of May.

When Jason was 15 he spent a year working as a mechanic's assistant. When he turned 16 he was eligible to register for an apprenticeship, but decided against it.[8]

Radio and TV career

Early years

Jason started his television career in 1964 playing the part of Bert Bradshaw in Crossroads. In 1967, he played spoof super-hero Captain Fantastic, among other roles, in the children's comedy series Do Not Adjust Your Set (Rediffusion London/ITV) with Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Denise Coffey, and Michael Palin. Humphrey Barclay, who recruited Jason to appear in Do Not Adjust Your Set (partly to counter the more highbrow style of Idle, Jones, and Palin),[9] admired his sense of timing. The programme ended in 1969, and the character then appeared for a time in the Thames Television children's programme Magpie. Jason appeared in the BBC comedy series Hugh and I in 1967, which starred Hugh Lloyd and Terry Scott as two friends who lived together in South London. He appeared in the Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) episode "That's How Murder Snowballs" (1969) as Abel, a framed performer in a major London theatre.

In 1968, Jason was initially cast in the role of Lance Corporal Jones in the Jimmy Perry and David Croft BBC comedy Dad's Army. Croft had been very impressed with the actor and knew that he had the talent to play a man much older than his real age. However, BBC executive Bill Cotton overruled him, casting Clive Dunn because he was better known. According to Jason, "I was cast at 12 o'clock and sacked by three."[10] Jason also subsequently missed out on the starring role of Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em in 1973 because BBC executives at the time believed that he lacked "star quality".[11]

In the 1970s, he also acted in radio comedies, including the weekly topical satire Week Ending (in which he regularly played such figures as then UK Foreign Secretary Dr David Owen) and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (as the "B Ark Captain" in the sixth episode). Jason also appeared in The Next Programme Follows Almost Immediately and made appearances on panel games such as The Impressionists as well as his own series, The Jason Explanation. In the early 1970s, he appeared in Mostly Monkhouse.

Jason appeared on stage in the West End in the farce No Sex Please, We're British playing Brian Runnicles for 18 months in 1973. He also starred with Valerie Leon in a stage comedy "Darling Mr London" which toured in 1975.

Jason appeared in variety shows as the supporting act of Dick Emery and his performances caught the attention of Ronnie Barker. Jason was recruited to appear in Hark at Barker (LWT, 1969), starring opposite Barker's Lord Rustless, as Dithers, the 100-year old gardener. There was also a sequel, His Lordship Entertains (1972) for the BBC. Jason played idealistic employee Granville in the first programme of the comedy anthology Seven of One (1973), called Open All Hours (BBC) and starring Barker as the curmudgeonly proprietor of a corner shop.

Four series of Open All Hours were made from 1976 to 1985. He featured in Barker's Porridge (BBC), a prison comedy, as the elderly Blanco in three episodes. Jason also appeared with Barker in various disguises in The Two Ronnies, including providing the "raspberry" sound effect for The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town.

Jason starred in London Weekend Television's Lucky Feller (1975–76), written by Terence Frisby and produced by Humphrey Barclay. About two brothers in south-east London, the series was in many ways a forerunner to Only Fools And Horses, only Jason was in the more dopey 'Rodney' role with Peter Armitage playing the cleverer of the two. The brothers drove around in a comical bubble car, a precursor to the famous Trotters' van; and there was even the joke where, just as he was trying to impress the girl (Cheryl Hall), Jason casually leaned back against the bar, without his knowing that barman had just lifted it behind his back, and fell through. This situation was re-enacted in Only Fools And Horses.[12] He played the lead role of Peter Barnes in the ATV sitcom A Sharp Intake of Breath (1977–81), alongside Alun Armstrong and Richard Wilson. In 1979, he appeared as Buttons in the pantomime Cinderella at Newcastle's Theatre Royal, starring Leah Bell and Bobby Thompson, produced by Michael Grayson and directed by John Blackmore.

Children's television

In the 1980s, Jason developed a working partnership with Cosgrove Hall, and was a voice-over artist for a number of children's television productions. This included voices for Danger Mouse, The BFG, Count Duckula, Hugo from Victor and Hugo, and Toad from The Wind in the Willows, all produced by Cosgrove Hall for Thames Television/ITV. He provided the voice of Father Christmas in Father Christmas and the Missing Reindeer, Rola Polar in The Adventures of Dawdle the Donkey, Angelmouse, and did voices in animated films including Wombling Free and The Water Babies.[13]

Transition into a leading man

Jason with Corporal Oliver Kennedy and Hermione Norris at the Sun Military Awards in 2012

In 1981, Jason found his best known role, Del Boy Trotter in the BBC situation comedy Only Fools and Horses, created by John Sullivan. Del is a wide boy who makes a dishonest living in Peckham, south London, trading in broken, stolen, and counterfeit goods. He is assisted by his brother Rodney (played by Nicholas Lyndhurst) and Grandad (played by Lennard Pearce) and, in later episodes, Uncle Albert (played by Buster Merryfield).

In 1989 Jason starred as Ted Simcock in the ITV drama series A Bit of a Do, aired from January to December.

In 1999, Jason starred as Captain Frank Beck in BBC's feature-length drama All the King's Men about the Sandringham regiment lost in World War I. He earned acclaim for a string of serious roles. These include Skullion in Porterhouse Blue (for Channel 4), Sidney "Pop" Larkin in the rural idyll The Darling Buds of May (Yorkshire Television/ITV), based on the H. E. Bates novel, which also featured Catherine Zeta-Jones.

In 1992, he signed a golden handcuffs deal with ITV to star as Detective Inspector Jack Frost in the long-running TV series A Touch of Frost (Yorkshire Television/ITV). In September 2006, he was voted by the general public as No. 1 in ITV's poll of TV's Greatest Stars. In December 2006, he starred in Terry Pratchett's Hogfather on Sky1 as Albert. In early 2007, he starred in Diamond Geezer (Granada Television/ITV). This series ran for 3 episodes of 90 minutes each. There was a pilot in 2005. In March 2008, he starred as Rincewind in Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic, and in the two part ITV drama Ghostboat.

On 16 September 2008, Jason announced that he would step down from his role as Jack Frost after 16 years.[14] Three new episodes of the show were shown in autumn 2008, and were followed by a two-part finale in 2010. Approached by BBC1 controller Danny Cohen in early 2011, he read three scripts and agreed to shoot a pilot for The Royal Bodyguard, which was shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival. The pilot episode aired on the BBC on Boxing Day but received a poor critical response. The series was axed after six episodes. In 2010, Jason starred in a made-for-TV movie Come Rain Come Shine with Alison Steadman for ITV about an elderly Millwall supporter.[15]

Since 2013 he has starred in Still Open All Hours. It features many original cast members (and a portrait of Ronnie Barker as Arkwright) and is still written by Roy Clarke, the original writer and creator of the show. He has also starred as Captain Skipper, a sea captain, sea dog and Pip's uncle in the animated series Pip Ahoy!.

In December 2021, Jason made a surprise cameo appearance on the Christmas Special of Strictly Come Dancing in the role of Del Boy to pass on a special message to The Repair Shop's Jay Blades, who was performing to the Only Fools and Horses theme tune.[16]

Honours

In 1993, Jason was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and 12 years later, in the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 2005, he was knighted for services to acting and comedy.[17] On the day it was announced, many British newspapers used the headline "Arise Sir Del Boy" or similar, in reference to his most famous role. Upon receiving the knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on 1 December 2005, he said he was "humbled" by the "fantastic tribute".[18][19]

Personal life

Jason lived with his long-term girlfriend, Welsh actress Myfanwy Talog, for 18 years and nursed her through breast cancer until she died in 1995. It mirrored a situation portrayed in A Touch of Frost in which the character's wife died after a long illness.

On 26 February 2001, Jason became a father for the first time at the age of 61 when his girlfriend, 41-year-old Gill Hinchcliffe, gave birth to a baby girl, Sophie Mae, born in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury.[20] Jason and Hinchcliffe married in 2005 and live in Ellesborough, Buckinghamshire.

Jason is a patron of the Shark Trust,[21] a United Kingdom registered charity working to advance the worldwide conservation of sharks through science, education, influence and action. He has also been Honorary Vice Patron of the Royal International Air Tattoo since 1999, and on 29 May 2014, presented a cheque on behalf of the Fairford-based RAF Charitable Trust for £125,000 to the British RAF Air Cadet Organisation, to fund flight simulators for Air Cadets.[22]

Jason is a qualified helicopter pilot.[23] In October 2013, he released his autobiography called David Jason: My Life.[24] It was shortlisted for the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards "Best Book of the Year".[25] A second volume, Only Fools and Stories: From Del Boy to Granville, Pop Larkin to Frost was published in October 2017. Penguin Books announced A Del Of A Life, which is Jason's third autobiography and was published in October 2020.[26]

In September 2017, it was reported that a "credible threat was made to his life", although it is not known why Jason had been targeted.[27]

Works

Books

  • David Jason: My Life. Random House. 2013. ISBN 978-1448164202.
  • Only Fools and Stories. Century. 2017. ISBN 978-1780897950.
  • A Del of A Life: Lessons I've Learned. Century. 2020. ISBN 978-1529125115.
  • The Twelve Dels of Christmas. Cornerstone. 2022. ISBN 978-1529136142.

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1964CrossroadsBert Bradshaw
1965BBC Christmas PantomimeKing Goose
1966Softly, SoftlySmithEpisode: "Overtake"
1967–1969Do Not Adjust Your SetVarious
1968Randall and HopkirkAbelEpisode: "That's How Murder Snowballs"
1969CounterstrikeTaffy SadlerEpisode: "On Ice"
1969Canada GooseUnknown
1969–1970Hark at BarkerVarious characters
1970Doctor in the HouseMr. DrobnicEpisode: "What Seems to be the Trouble?"
1970Two D's and a DogDingle Bell
1971Six Dates With Barker(voice of the Phantom)Episode: "The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town"
1971Six Dates With BarkerOdd Job ManEpisode: "The Odd Job"
1971Doctor at LargeVictor BlighEpisode: "Let's Start at the Beginning"
1972His Lordship EntertainsDithers
1973Seven of OneVarious2 Episodes: "Open All Hours" and "I'll Fly You for a Quid"
1973 White Cargo Albert Director:Ray Selfe
1974Doctor at SeaManuel Sanchez
1974It's Only Me: Whoever I AmQuentin
1974The Top Secret Life of Edgar BriggsEdgar Briggs
1975; 1977PorridgeBlanco WebbEpisodes: "Happy Release", "No Peace for the Wicked", and "Pardon Me"[28]
1976Lucky FellerShorty Mopstead
1976–1985Open All HoursGranville
1977–1981A Sharp Intake of BreathPeter Barnes
1981–2003Only Fools and HorsesDerek "Del Boy" Trotter
1987Porterhouse BlueSkullion
1988Ariel Liquid (advertisement)Mrs BWith his co-star, Nicholas Lyndhurst, as Mr H
1989A Bit of a DoTed Simcock
1990Amongst BarbariansGeorge
1991–1993The Darling Buds of MayPop Larkin
1991Only Fools and HorsesDon Vincenzo OcchettiEpisode: "Miami Twice Part 2: Oh to Be in England"
1992–2010A Touch of FrostDI Jack Frost
1993The Bullion BoysBilly Mac
1998March in Windy CitySteven March
2001Dora the ExplorerThe Echo Bush (UK Dub) [29]Episode: The Chocolate Tree
2001MicawberMicawber
2002–2004The QuestDave
2005–2007Diamond GeezerDes
2005–2018 Doraemon Additional Voices[29]
2005–2009Little EinsteinsAdditional Voices [29]
2006GhostboatJack Hardy
2006Terry Pratchett's HogfatherAlberto Malich
2006Cartoon KingsNarrator
2006Prehistoric ParkNarrator
2008Terry Pratchett's The Colour of MagicRincewind
2009Albert's MemorialHarry
2010David Jason: The Battle of BritainPresenter
2010Come Rain Come ShineDon
2011David Jason's Greatest EscapesHimself
2011–2012The Royal BodyguardCaptain Guy Hubble
2013–2019Still Open All HoursGranvilleA revival of the original series, featuring original cast members Lynda Baron and Maggie Ollerenshaw.
2017The Story of Only Fools and HorsesHimselfSix-part documentary series about the sitcom Only Fools and Horses.
2017David Jason: My Life On ScreenHimselfThree-part documentary series where Sir David Jason embarks on a journey across Britain to explore his career in television.
2017David Jason's Secret ServiceHimself
2019David Jason: Planes, Trains and AutomobilesHimselfFive-part documentary series about motor vehicles.
2020David Jason's Great British InventionsHimselfFour-part documentary series exploring his favourite British inventions.
Flying For Britain with David JasonHimself80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain documentary.
David Jason: Britain's Favourite TV StarHimselfChannel 5 documentary; a retrospective look at David Jason's career.
2021The Lancaster Bomber at 80 with David JasonNarratorDocumentary celebrating the history of the iconic World War II bomber.[30]

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1972Under Milk WoodNogood Boyo
1973White CargoAlbert Toddey
1975Royal FlashThe Mayor
1977Wombling FreeWombleVoice
1978The Odd JobOdd Job Man
1999All the King's MenCaptain Frank Beck
2010All the Way UpDirector

Animation

Year Title Role Notes
1978The Water BabiesVarious characters
1981–1992Danger MouseDanger Mouse
Isambard Sinclair (narrator)
Buggles Pigeon
Count Duckula
Various characters
1983–1990The Wind in the WillowsToad
Chief Weasel
Billy Rabbit
1988–1993Count DuckulaCount Duckula
Various characters
1989The BFGThe BFG
1991–1992Victor and HugoHugo
Interpol
Count Duckula (1 episode)
Danger Mouse (1 episode)
1993The Adventures of Dawdle the DonkeyRola Polar
1994FelidaeJesajaEnglish dub
1995The Snow QueenEric
1997Father Christmas and the Missing ReindeerFather Christmas
1999AngelmouseQuilly and Character Voices
2005-2010Little EinsteinsAdditional Characters
2010Muddle EarthRandalf
2014–2018Pip Ahoy!Skipper
Pasty

Radio

Year Title Role Notes
UnknownMostly MonkhouseVarious characters
1970–1998Week EndingVarious characters
1977–1981The Jason ExplanationVarious characters
1978The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyCaptain of the "B" Ark
Caveman
2008Book at Bedtime: A Christmas CarolNarratorBBC Radio 4[31]
2016-7Desolation JestsBBC Radio 4

Awards and nominations

Jason has won a total of eighteen awards between 1986 and 2011. His hit comedy show, Only Fools and Horses won many awards. His crime drama, A Touch of Frost, has also won and been nominated numerous times. Porterhouse Blue, The Second Quest, All the King's Men and A Bit of a Do have won David Jason one award each.

YearGroupAwardFilm/ShowResult
1985 BAFTA TV Award Best Light Entertainment Performance Only Fools and Horses Nominated
1986 BAFTA TV Award Best Light Entertainment Performance Only Fools and Horses Nominated
1987 BAFTA TV Award Best Actor Porterhouse Blue Won
1988 BAFTA TV Award Best Light Entertainment Performance Only Fools and Horses Nominated
1989 BAFTA TV Award Best Light Entertainment Performance Only Fools and Horses Nominated
1990 British Comedy Award Best TV Comedy Actor A Bit of a Do Won
1990 BAFTA TV Award Best Light Entertainment Performance Only Fools and Horses Won
1992 British Comedy Award Best TV Comedy Actor The Darling Buds of May Won
1996 National Television Award Most Popular Comedy Performer Only Fools and Horses Won
1996 National Television Award Special Recognition Award N/a Won
1996 BAFTA TV Award Best Comedy Performance Only Fools and Horses Won
1997 British Comedy Award Best TV Comedy Actor Only Fools and Horses Won
1997 National Television Award Most Popular Actor Only Fools and Horses Won
1999 National Television Award Most Popular Actor A Touch of Frost Nominated
2000 National Television Award Most Popular Actor A Touch of Frost Nominated
2000 TV Quick Award Best Actor A Touch of Frost
All the King's Men
Won
2001 British Comedy Award Lifetime Achievement Award N/a Won
2001 TV Quick Award Best Actor A Touch of Frost Won
2001 National Television Award Most Popular Actor A Touch of Frost Won
2001 National Television Award Most Popular Comedy Performer Only Fools and Horses Won
2002 National Television Award Most Popular Actor A Touch of Frost Won
2002 National Television Award Most Popular Comedy Performance Only Fools and Horses Nominated
2002 TV Quick Award Best Actor A Touch of Frost Won
2003 National Television Award Most Popular Actor A Touch of Frost Nominated
2003 BAFTA TV Award BAFTA Academy Fellowship N/a Won
2003 National Television Award Most Popular Actor The Second Quest
A Touch of Frost
Nominated
2011 National Television Award Outstanding Drama Performance A Touch of Frost Won

References

  1. "David Jason marries in secret". Manchester Evening News. 1 December 2005.
  2. Morgan, Sion (13 October 2013). "Sir David Jason opens up on tragic romance with Welsh actress". WalesOnline.
  3. "Jason, Sir David". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. 2020. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. "David Jason". British Film Institute. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  5. "David Jason". bradleywalsh.co.uk. 9 September 2006. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  6. Hughes, Heather. "David Jason". TV.com. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  7. Jardine, Cassandra (4 August 2004). "The return of the secondary modern". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022.
  8. "David Jason on TV-am in 1984". Archived from the original on 26 January 2023 via www.youtube.com.
  9. Wilmut, Roger (1980). From Fringe to Flying Circus: Celebrating a Unique Generation of Comedy 1960–1980. Eyre Methuen. p. 181.
  10. "Jason to receive this year's BAFTA Fellowship". BBC Online. 7 April 2003. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  11. "David Jason rejected for lead role in Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em because BBC execs thought he lacked 'star quality'". The Daily Telegraph. 26 March 2021. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  12. "Del Boy Falls Through the Bar | Only Fools and Horses | BBC Comedy Greats". Archived from the original on 11 December 2021 via www.youtube.com.
  13. Jason, David (2013). David Jason: My Life. Random House. p. 1216. ISBN 9781448164202.
  14. "Sir David quitting Touch of Frost". BBC News. 16 September 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  15. "Come Rain Come Shine". IMDb.
  16. "Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Sir David Jason and Huw Edwards make surprise appearance during Christmas special". Metro. 25 December 2021. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  17. "No. 58099". The London Gazette. 15 September 2006. p. 12615.
  18. "Del Boy knighted in Queen's list". BBC News. 11 June 2005. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  19. "David Jason collects knighthood". BBC News. 1 December 2005. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  20. Alleyne, Richard (27 February 2001). "David Jason's new role as father at 61". The Telegraph. London, UK. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  21. "The Shark Trust – Sir David Jason". sharktrust.org. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  22. Leigh, Jane (30 May 2014). "'Del Boy' Marks Trust's £1 Million Moment". raf.mod.uk. Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  23. Deacon, Michael (11 October 2008). "David Jason: Interview". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  24. "David Jason shares his Only Fools and Horses secrets". The Daily Telegraph. 10 October 2013. Archived from the original on 13 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  25. "Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane named 2013 Book of the Year". 27 December 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  26. "A Del Of A Life". 2 April 2020.
  27. Deen, Sarah (24 September 2017). "David Jason pictured arriving on set with two security guards after 'credible threat' on his life". Metro. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  28. Hildred, Stafford; Ewbank, Tim (2012). Sir David Jason – A Life of Laughter. John Blake Publishing. ISBN 9781782190721.
  29. "David Jason". IMDb. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  30. "The Lancaster Bomber at 80 with David Jason". radiotimes.com. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  31. "Radio 4 Programmes – Book at Bedtime: A Christmas Carol". BBC. Retrieved 13 June 2012.

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