Sir David is probably best known for his role in the sitcom 'Only Fools and Horses' playing the part of Del Boy, a bit of a wide-boy whose schemes to get rich quick were never quite successful. But this famous British actor's rise to stardom was a long process.
Just a Lad from London
Born David John White on 2 February, 1940, in Edmonton, London, he first trained as an electrician upon leaving school. He joined Romney Repertory Theatre at the age of 25, changing his name to David Jason1, after finding out that there was already a David White signed up with Equity. He spent 20 years 'treading the boards,' before embarking, full time, on a television career.
In 1964 David appeared in Crossroads as Bert Bradshaw; he then went on to star in the children's comedy series 'Don't adjust your set' as Captain Fantastic2, in 1967. The sketches saw Captain Fantastic battle against the evil Mrs Black, (aided by her horrible handbag) with only his high-tech umbrella to help him. His co-stars were; Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. It was Humphrey Barclay who, because he liked David's sense of timing, recruited him for the show.
David also appeared with Dick Emery in some variety shows; this is where he was first seen by Ronnie Barker, who would go on to become David's mentor. Ronnie asked him to appear in 'Hark At Barker', where he played a gardener. Then in 1973 David took on the role of Granville, the down-trodden junior employee and nephew of Arkwright, the miserable and tight-fisted proprietor of a corner shop, played by Ronnie Barker, in 'Open all Hours'. He went on to star in four series of 'Open all Hours', until 1985. He has also starred in a number of radio comedies, including, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, playing 'B Ark Captain' in episode six.
'You Plonker Rodney'
In 1981 David took on the part that he is probably best known for, playing Del 'Boy' Trotter, a wide-boy who earns a bit of a dodgy living selling counterfeit goods. The series was written by John Sullivan and co-stared Nicholas Lyndhurst as Rodney, Del's brother, Lennard Pearce as Granddad and later after Lennard's death Buster Merryfield as Uncle Albert. The nation loved to watch Del's get rich quick schemes backfire each week, and Rodney's inept ways to try and chat up girls. Every week Del would proclaim 'This time next year, we'll be millionaires Rodders'. David also made popular several phrases during his time as Del; these included, dipstick, plonker and lovely jubbly. David, however, was not first choice for this part; Jim Broadbent, Enn Reitel and Bill Murry where all considered first. Luckily producer of the show, Ray Butt, saw him in 'Open all Hours.' There were concerns as to whether David could cope with the part as up until that point he had never had a leading role on television. David slipped into the part easily, basing the character on a trader he'd known when he was working as an electrician, even adding Del's famous camel coat and gold jewellery.
David went on to play several 'straight' roles from the success of 'Only Fools and Horses'. He played Pa Larkin in 'Darling Buds of May' along with Catherine Zeta Jones and Pam Ferries, where he made the phrase 'perfick' famous. He also starred as Skullion in Porterhouse Blue and then starred as Detective Inspector William Frost3 in 'A Touch of Frost'. He played Jack Frost as a down to earth 'copper', who is dedicated to his work. He has continued clashes with his superior, Superintendent Norman 'Horn-rimmed Harry' Mullett, who makes it perfectly clear to Frost that he is only tolerated on account of Frost being the Chief Constables 'blue eyed boy' after an act of bravery, had Frost being awarded with the George Cross. Most recently we saw him playing Albert, Death's butler, in 'Hogfather'.
David has worked with Cosgrove Hall. He supplied the voice for Dangermouse, the world's greatest secret agent, who could speak 34 languages fluently. He also provided voices for, Count Duckula, who started out as a villain on Dangermouse then gained his own spin off cartoon, Toad of Toad Hall, in Wind in the Willows and the BFG.
- 1993 awarded Officer of order of the British Empire (OBE)
- 2005 Knighted by the queen, many tabloid newspaper ran the headline 'Arise Sir Del Boy'
- 2006 was voted number one in ITV's TV's Greatest Stars poll