‘Hardly a shock’ Only Fools and Horses star David Jason on how he landed Del Boy role

Only Fools and Horses: Del Boy and Rodney are Batman and Robin

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The iconic BBC Only Fools and Horses star Sir David Jason opened up about his days filming the comedy sitcom from 1981 to 1991. Desire airing 25 years ago, Only Fools and Horses continues to be the nation’s favourite TV show, with its wit and hilarious jokes. Sir David opened up about his time on the show and revealed he wasn’t first choice for the role when auditioning.

It comes as no surprise that casting the right actor for the iconic character was a hard task, making sure the right person portrayed the character the way it was intended.

Speaking on how he was “merely a fifth option”, Sir David revealed there were many others in the running for the character.

“Why, perhaps you, dear reader, were considered for the role, too, and turned it down. It would hardly come as a shock to me,” he teased.

The actors who were first thought of for the role before Sir David included Enn Reitel, Jim Broadbent, Robin Nedwell and Bill Murray.

Sir David joked that the other actors would have been “terribly sniffly” about being offered the part of the brash and sometimes loud South London market trader, however, he was flattered.

He thought it was more important to be “the best you can be when you get to the front of the queue,” rather than the “first in line”.

Speaking on the other actors who were in the running for the role of Del Boy, Sir David revealed he believed Jim would have been “a much more plausible” casting as Rodney’s brother.

This thought came along as Jim and Nicholas were of a similar height, however, Sir David’s shortness fed into the underlying plotline that the Trotter brother didn’t share the same biological father.

He described it as a “wonderful insinuation” through the series and was never overplayed, but it was just simply “hovering in the background”.

Sir David also thought it was more comical to have a “smaller man punching up”, and if Del Boy was taller, it “could have looked a bit like bullying”.

The Sun ran an exclusive poll, which saw the misadventures of Del Boy and Rodney Trotter (played by Nicolas Lyndhurst) dressed a Batman and Robin voted the nation’s favourite Christmas special.

The Christmas special was such a highly anticipated episode; the storyline was a closely guarded secret, however, newspapers and even the public were eager to find out what happened.

So much so, the episode had to be moved from London to Bristol to keep out of view of prying public and photographers.

The team hired security guards who cordoned off the area to avoid anyone getting close to the set whilst they were filming, keeping the Batman and Robin duo a secret.

Speaking on the troubles they went through to keep the episode a secret, Sir David explained: “A picture in the paper could have spoiled it. A trailer would have killed it stone dead.”

Ahead of the episode, the BBC “nearly ruined Christmas” as they were eager to release a trailer for the episode.

The corporation revealed they wanted to “get out ahead” and ensure the viewers would tune in by releasing a teaser trailer before the episode aired.

However, they planned to show the episodes big reveal, which was Del and Rodney dressed as Batman and Robin.

“Even a glimpse of Del or Rodney in those stupid costumes before the episode was broadcast, indeed at any moment… would have been ruinous,” Sir David wrote in his memoir A Del Of A Life.

Thankfully, the team managed to demand to the BBC: “Nothing showing Del and Rodney in those outfits should be leaked.”

Only Fools and Horses is available to watch on BBC iPlayer. 

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