‘I’ve got to!’ David Jason on how Only Fools and Horses bosses were against casting him
David Jason reveals bosses were against casting him as Del Boy.
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David Jason has looked back on his time playing Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter in Only Fools and Horses. On Saturday night, BBC One aired a documentary entitled The Story of Only Fools and Horses, which took a look at the making of the hit comedy series. The special programme featured interviews with the cast and creators of the show. David, who played the lead in the series, reflected on how he came to be a part of Only Fool and Horses. However, he revealed before the show began, many people were against casting him.
Only Fools and Horses producer Ray Butt explained that getting the right cast for the show was key.
“The first important thing is to get the right script, the second most important thing is to get the right cast,” he remarked.
The producer revealed that Nicholas Lyndhurst, who played Rodney Trotter, was the first actor to be cast in the series.
“He was 19-years-old at the time, but such a mature, superb actor,” Ray said of Nicholas.
“Our next problem was the lead,” he said, as he reflected on the casting process for the character of Del Boy.
Ray explained how he had first thought David would be a good fit for the role after seeing him in another sit-com.
Ray said: “They were doing a re-run of a series called Open All Hours and I saw David, David Jason, doing a sort of virtuoso piece in the back storeroom.
“I said ‘that’s it, that’s Del Boy.’ I rang John and said ‘I think David would be good’,” he recalled.
David reflected on the moment he first got his hands on a script for the show and how eager it made him to secure the role of Del Boy.
He remarked: “When I read Only Fools and Horses for the first time I saw this character, Derek Trotter, that was an amazing, amazing go-getter – a winner!
“Albeit he was in fact a loser, but a really brash, upfront character,” the actor added.
David explained how he was keen to be cast in the role, but there were some who believed he wasn’t the right fit.
“The writing was so good and the character I thought was so different, I thought ‘I’ve got to play this part!’
“There was at that time, a number of people who were against casting me as the lead role.
“One of them was in fact John Sullivan himself, which he openly admits!” David exclaimed.
John Sullivan was the writer behind the show, and confessed that David was right in saying he had his doubts about casting him.
He explained: “My only concern with David was that I’d never seen him play a sharp, kind of tough, man.”
However, he revealed that producer Ray managed to convince him that David was the right choice for the part.
“Ray assured me. Ray knew him, knew David well, and he said ‘yeah he can do that’,” John said.
The Story of Only Fools and Horses is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
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