Sir David Jason — things you didn't know about the legendary actor

Sir David Jason
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Sir David Jason attends Cirque du Soleil's "LUZIA" at Royal Albert Hall on January 15, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images) (Image credit: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

David Jason was almost in Dad's Army and he can fly a helicopter...

David Jason is best known for playing Derek "Del Boy" Trotter in Only Fools and Horses and Granville in Open All Hours on BBC1.

During his legendary career, David has also starred in a huge number of other hits including The Darling Buds of May and A Touch of Frost.

But how much do you know about David Jason himself?

Most fans of the actor will know that:

  • He trained as an electrician before becoming an actor.
  • His first-ever TV role was in Crossroads in 1964.
  • He's acted in radio comedies and voices children's TV characters.
  • He was knighted in 2005 for services to acting and comedy.

But what else do we know about David Jason? Here are several things you probably don't know about the acting legend...

1. David Jason’s real name isn't David Jason!

David Jason was actually born David John White on February 2 1940 in Edmonton, Middlesex. And like many actors, he took a stage name. He once revealed during a television interview that he picked out the name David Jason due to his love of the classic 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts. David started out in amateur theatre in North London. “I just found, for some reason, that I identified with it, I was actually quite good at it, I enjoyed it” he once told us.

2. David Jason was convinced The Darling Buds of May was going to either be a huge hit or a big flop!

David Jason with Catherine Zeta Jones in their Darling Buds of May days

Perfick! David Jason with his Darling Buds of May co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones (Picture: Getty Images)

David famously starred as Sidney “Pop” Larkin alongside future Hollywood movie star Catherine Zeta-Jones in ITV’s The Darling Buds of May, which was based on the books by H.E. Bates.

David once told us: “When I first read the book when I was first offered the part I think it’s fair enough to say I said to my agent at the time, ‘Well this will either be a huge success or it will be a huge flop” and she said: 'Why?’ and I replied: ‘Because there’s nothing in it’." It turns out David needn’t have worried!

3. He is a qualified helicopter pilot

David is an experienced helicopter pilot. He once told the Daily Telegraph that he started flying when he was only 28. “I never thought I was academically gifted at school. But when I started flying I found you didn’t need an academic mind — you just needed determination and dedication.”

4. David Jason has one daughter

David Jason with his daughter

David Jason with his daughter Sophie Mae at a recent event (Picture: Getty Images)

David became a dad for the first time aged 61 in 2001 when his partner, now wife, Gill Hinchcliffe gave birth to a baby girl.

Talking about why they called their daughter Sophie Mae, David revealed at the time: "We didn’t choose her name until after she was born. She’s not named after anyone in either of our families, but we just liked the name and it seemed to suit her perfectly."

5. David Jason kept some very special souvenirs from Only Fools and Horses

David Jason in Only Fools with Nicholas Lyndhurst and Lennard Pearce in 1982

David Jason kept some prized mementos from his days as Del Boy (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

Who can forget the episode of Only Fools when Del Boy "discovered" Peckham Spring on his allotment and started selling tap water to the nation?! Well David revealed that he kept some as a souvenir! “I’ve got a couple of bottles of Peckham Spring water,” he once told The Mirror. “I’ll keep them for ever. I won’t drink them. After all, it’s BBC water and not only that, would you drink something Del Trotter had made?”

We can't mention Only Fools of course without mentioning the famous falling through-the-bar scene (below). A poll by TV channel Gold recently even named it as the funniest scene in British sitcom history.

6. David’s older brother is also an actor

David, whose twin brother sadly died during childbirth, has an older brother Arthur White, who’s also an actor. Must be in the blood! Arthur appeared alongside David in 27 episodes of A Touch of Frost as archivist Ernie Trigg and he worked alongside David again in the comedy fantasy The Colour of Magic. Arthur’s enjoyed numerous other parts in shows like Crossroads and The Professionals.

7. Don't panic! David almost played Lance-Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army!!

Dad's Army star Clive Dunn as Jones

Clive Dunn as Corporal Jones in Dad's Army, a part David almost played! (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

David was a whisker away from playing Lance-Corporal Jones in classic comedy Dad’s Army. Clive Dunn, who famously ended up playing Jones, had been approached but initially couldn’t take the role due to a filming clash.

David recalled on This Morning once: "I came up for the part in the morning and at 12 o’clock they said, 'You’ve got the part’. I was elated. This was going to be a big deal for me.” But later David discovered he’d been ditched for Clive, who’d found out he was free after all. “They dumped me,” David recalled. It didn’t work out badly for David or Clive though!

David Jason's Fact File 

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about the actor....

How old is he?

David Jason's age is 83. His date of birth is 2 February 1940.

Is he in a relationship?

David Jason has been married to wife Gill Hinchcliffe since 2005.

Does he have kids?

David Jason has a grown-up daughter called Sophie Mae.

Where was he born?

David Jason was born in Edmonton, Middlesex.

How tall is he?

David Jason's height is 1.68 metres tall.

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Main pic: Getty Images 

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!