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Sir David Jason: Only Fools and Horses probably wouldn't get made today

Sir David as Del Boy.

Sir David Jason has said his most famous show Only Fools and Horses probably wouldn't get made today.

The actor told ITV News when the popular sitcom first aired in 1981 it "probably got one of the worst audiences in the entire history of television".

But it went on to become a success as there was much less emphasis on audience figures then - and having fewer channels helped.

"It's very sad from a creative point of view," Sir David said.

"Now it's more about selling a product that will pay our wages and pay for programming. That ideology now dominates the industry.

"But with only three or four channels, they then had the finances to nurse shows, and if it didn't work they could say 'wait a minute let's give it a chance' because the audiences are not going anywhere else."

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Speaking to Arts Editor Nina Nannar ahead of the release of his new book Only Fools and Stories, Sir David said it was sad how much the industry had changed.

The 77-year-old said when he started acting he "loved it so much it became a vocation".

But nowadays, he said "so many people want fame for fame's sake".

"It's not for the love of the actual creative process, and also the wish to entertain.

"One of the reasons is the X Factor, it shows people with talent certainly - but it shows them that they can be rich and famous for the wrong reasons.

"My success, if you like, is one that has come not because I want it, but because it's been a natural process."

The veteran actor also revealed who the inspiration for his infamous Del Boy character was - a builder he met while he was working as an electrician.

"He totally fascinated me because he was the total opposite of what his accent was.

"His accent was so East End...hardly pronounced any of his words proper. But he was dressed immaculately, like some sort of toff from the West End."

Sir Jason said Only Fools writer John Sullivan had the idea Del Boy should be "the stereotypical flat cap, beer belly, rough diamond, and all of that".

"But this guy Derek Hockley was stuck in my mind, because also he was a real sharp character. He really was up and running, and that impressed me.

"So I just thought this has got to be; he's one of those. He's got to be with it, he's smart, he's bright, and he dresses accordingly.

"So that's the way that I took Del Boy, and it worked marvellously."