Both Only Fools and Horses and Dad’s Army are two of the most-loved British comedies of all time but things could have been very different if Sir David Jason landed the role of Corporal Jones. Dad’s Army fans will know Clive Dunn accepted the role but initially he wasn’t keen and Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter star David was lined up as a potential replacement.
In Only Fools and Horses – The Official Inside Story, David opened up on the iconic role that was nearly his.
He recalled: “After I lost the part in Dad’s Army and it started to become really successful there were times when I’d watch it and see Corporal Jones and I’d say: ‘I was offered that b****y part!’”
“You can’t help thinking like that,” he mused in Steve Clark’s book that takes fans behind the scenes of Only Fools and Horses.
“At the time I thought it would have changed my life because I would have been recognised as a television actor, which I wasn’t at that stage.”
Only Fools and Horses star David Jason was considered for Dad’s Army’s Corporal Jones (Image: GETTY)
Dad’s Army star Clive Dunn wasn’t keen to sign up to the comedy at first (Image: BBC)
“Back then I was winning and losing parts like any other average actor,” David continued.
“You’d go in and meet people who you didn’t know and they didn’t know you from Adam and they didn’t really know your work and it was a struggle.
“But that’s the way it is for anybody who is trying to forge a career and live as an actor.
“I was quite happy to go and so summer seasons, I was really happy on stage, I really enjoyed it.”
Only Fools and Horses is one of Britain’s most-loved comedies (Image: GETTY)
The actor explained he may never have landed the role of Del Boy if he’d starred in Dad’s Army.
“That’s all history now but not getting that [the Corporal Jones] part had a major effect on my career,” he noted.
“When I think about it, the whole thing that led me to getting the part of Del is littered with ifs and buts.
“Obviously if John Sullivan’s other show hadn’t been cancelled then he would never have written Only Fools.”
Although it’s hard to imagine David not playing Del Boy, the actor wasn’t the first choice for the role.
He added: “If Jim Broadbent or Enn Reital had been free to play the part of Del then I would have never done it.
“And if Ray Butt hadn’t been determined to cast me then I would have never got the job at all.”
Meanwhile, Channel 5’s Dad’s Army: Secret Lives & Scandal explored the reasons for Clive Dunn being sceptical to take on the role of Corporal Jones.
In the documentary, comedy writer Emma Kennedy explained: “He didn’t really want to do it.
“But John Le Mesurier also didn’t want to do it unless Clive Dunn did it and Clive Dunn didn’t want to do it unless John Le Mesurier did it.”
Clive eventually agreed to star in Dad’s Army alongside John Le Mesurier who played Sergeant Arthur Wilson.