Sir David Jason is instantly recognisable as the man behind one of the most iconic TV characters of all time. Across seven series Sir David brought Del Boy to life as the star of Only Fools and Horses, which was voted Britain’s greatest ever sitcom in a BBC poll.
The star, now 82, was born Edmonton in North London in 1940, where his dad was a porter at Billingsgate Fish Market and his mum was a maid. From a young age Sir David had dreams of being an actor but his dad told him he should learn a trade first. He trained as an electrician for six years before quitting the profession to pursue his dream.
In his early years he took what roles he could get, from children’s shows to radio comedies. For the first 15 years of his career he struggled to be seen as a leading man and was once turned down by Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em bosses for not having ‘star quality.’ The BBC producers said he was thought to be “only funny in supporting roles”.
Despite this set back, Sir David pressed on with roles in the West End alongside performances in big shows such as Open All Hours and Porridge.
It was during this time that Sir David and his Only Fools and Horses co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst met for the first time, five years before the show even began. In 1976 Sir David, then aged 36, was working on a TV series for ITV called Lucky Feller, in which he played the star Shorty Mopstead.
Doing some promotional work for the new show though, David was invited for an interview on the LWT Kids morning talk show, Our Show. On the day David Jason was being interviewed though, who should be his young interviewer other than a wide-eyed 15-year-old called Nicholas Lyndhurst.
Later in 1981 the pair met again, this time as Del and Rodney Trotter and the rest is history.
Outside of his career, Sir David lived with his long-term girlfriend, Welsh actress Myfanwy Talog. The pair dated for 18 years, during which time tragedy struck as she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Describing the devastating moment when the cancer diagnosis was first confirmed the actor, who was baptised David John White, said: “You can imagine: tears. It was terrible. She had a specialist who said she should have an operation to remove her breast because radiotherapy wasn’t going to shrink the cancer on its own. That was so hard for her to take.
“Neither of us had known anything like this in our lives before. It was a whole new reality to get used to. It was a very stressful time, a terrible, difficult emotional time.”
Sir David nursed her through her treatment until she died in 1995. In 2001 he became a dad for the first time at the age of 61, when his girlfriend Gill Hinchcliffe the mum. They named their baby girl Sophie Mae and Sir David and Gill later married in 2005.
The pair remain happily married and live in Ellesborough in Buckinghamshire. Sir David has some interesting passions away from acting. He is a qualified helicopter pilot and is also a patron of the Shark Trust which campaigns to protect sharks across the world.