David Jason

Sir David John White, OBE, known by his stage name David Jason (born 2 February 1940), is an English actor, known for his comedy and dramatic roles. He is perhaps most famous for his portrayal of Del Boy in the BBC television situation comedy Only Fools and Horses which made him a household name in the United Kingdom, and for playing Inspector Jack Frost on A Touch of Frost. His elder brother, Arthur White, is also a character actor.

Early life and education

David Jason was born David John White in Edmonton, London, England. Brought up in Lodge Lane, North Finchley, he went to Northside primary school on the same road. After leaving school he trained as an electrician while negotiating his way into repertory theatre. On discovering there was already a David White on Equity's books, he took the stage name Jason from his favourite film at the time 'Jason and the Argonauts'. It has long been suggested that he took the name Jason from his younger twin brother who died in infancy, but David Jason himself has since denied this in an interview, and has claimed he finds the story upsetting.

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 a spoof super-hero Captain Fantastic (and also other roles), in the children's television sketch comedy series Do Not Adjust Your Set (Rediffusion London/ITV). His co-stars were Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Humphrey Barclay, who recruited David Jason to appear in Do Not Adjust Your Set (partly to offset the rather intellectual style of Idle, Jones and Palin), admired Jason's sense of timing. DNAYS had a very successful run on ITV and ended in 1969.

David was considered for the role of Lance-Corporal Jack Jones in the Jimmy Perry and David Croft BBC comedy Dad's Army. Although Jason had only played some minor parts in the series, Croft had been very impressed with the youngster and knew that he had the ability to play a man much older than his own age.

David Jason appeared in a comedy series for the BBC called Hugh and I, which starred Hugh Lloyd and Terry Scott as two friends who lived together in south London.

In the 1970s he also acted in radio comedies, including Week Ending (in which he regularly satirised 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 with Josephine Tewson supporting Bob Monkhouse.

In 1974, Jason also played the part of the inept spy Edgar Briggs in the television comedy series The Top Secret Life of Edgar Briggs (ATV/ITV).

Jason also appeared in variety shows in support of stars such as Dick Emery, and his performances caught the attention of Ronnie Barker, who soon became a mentor to Jason. In 1969 Jason was recruited to appear in Hark At Barker, starring Ronnie Barker as Lord Rustless, as Dithers, the hundred-year old gardener. There was also a sequel, His Lordship Entertains. That year he also made an appearance in the popular ITC show Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) in the fifth episode of the series That's How Murder Snowballs as Abel, a framed performer in a major London theatre. In 1973 he played junior employee Granville in the first programme of the comedy anthology Seven of One, called Open All Hours (BBC) and starring Barker as the miserly proprietor of a corner shop. Four series of Open All Hours were subsequently made from 1976 to 1985. He featured in Barker's Porridge (BBC), a prison-based comedy, as Blanco. He also took the lead role in the ATV sitcom A Sharp Intake Of Breath. In 1979 Jason appeared as Buttons in the pantomime Cinderella at Newcastle's Theatre Royal with Leah Bell and Bobby Thompson produced by Michael Grayson and directed by John Blackmore.

In 1976 Jason starred in London Weekend Television's Lucky Feller, 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 dopy 'Rodders' 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 gag where, just as he was trying to impress the girl (played by 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.

Years later, LWT approached Jason hoping to revive Lucky Feller but Jason, conscious that he was being over-exposed, refused to let it be shown again.

Maturity and success

In 1981 he found his most enduring and popular role, Derek 'Del-Boy' Trotter in the BBC situation comedy Only Fools and Horses (created by John Sullivan). Del-Boy is a wide-boy who makes a dubious living in Peckham, south London, trading in shoddy, stolen, and counterfeit goods. He is assisted by his brother Rodney (played by Nicholas Lyndhurst) and Grandad (played by Lennard Pearce) or, in later episodes, Uncle Albert (played by Buster Merryfield). In this role Jason popularised some slang words and phrases; examples being the mild insults "dipstick" and "plonker", and the celebratory "lovely jubbly".

He has also earned acclaim for a string of straight roles. These include Skullion in Porterhouse Blue (for Channel 4), Pa Larkin in the rural idyll The Darling Buds of May (Yorkshire Television/ITV) and based on the H. E. Bates novel, which also featured Catherine Zeta-Jones. He also appeared as Detective Inspector Jack Frost in the long-running TV series A Touch of Frost (Yorkshire Television/ITV).

In addition to these roles, he has also worked as a voice artist for Cosgrove Hall on a number of children's television productions, providing voices for DangerMouse, The BFG, Count Duckula and Toad from The Wind in the Willows (all produced by Cosgrove Hall for Thames Television/ITV), as well as several other cartoon voice-overs and advertising work including the DIY chain Do It All in 1988 and supermarket chain Morrisons in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1999 he starred as Captain Frank Beck in BBC's feature-length drama "All the King's Men".

David Jason more recently starred in the two part ITV drama Ghostboat (Yorkshire Television/ITV) and presented a special programme celebrating the work of Cosgrove Hall Films `Cartoon Kings' for ITV1. He peppered his narration with the voices of DangerMouse, Count Duckula, Toad from Wind in the Willows and the BFG.

In September 2006, he was voted by the general public as number 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 The Colour of Magic.

On 16 September 2008, Jason announced that he would retire his role as Det Insp Jack Frost after 16 years. Three new episodes of the show will be shown in autumn 2008, followed by a two-part finale in 2009.


In 1993, David Jason was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and twelve years later, in the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 2005, he was knighted for services to acting. On the day his knighthood was announced, many British newspapers used the headline "Arise Sir Del Boy" or similar, in reference to his most famous role. The Daily Mirror ran the headline "It's Sir Del and Sir Tel" (popular BBC Radio 2 DJ Terry Wogan was knighted on the same day). Upon receiving the knighthood from the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 1 December 2005, the actor said he was "humbled" by the "fantastic tribute".

Personal life

He nursed long-time girlfriend Myfanwy Talog prior to her death from breast cancer in 1995. He married Yorkshire girl Gill Hinchcliffe, with whom he has a daughter - Sophie Mae - in a secret ceremony at the Dorchester Hotel in London on 30 November 2005.






External links

Do Not Adjust Your Set
Denise CoffeyEric Idle — David Jason — Terry JonesMichael Palin

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