Fools' paradise

David Jason glad to be back

Del Boy and Rodney last graced our screens, their wildest dreams came true, and they did become millionaires. But that was five ago, and now Only Fools and Horses is returning to BBC1, David Jason couldn't be more pleased.

"I didn't expect to be back but it's a very pleasant experience," he laughs during a break from filming in Weston-super-Mare.

"There's been tremendous pressure - from the public, mainly - to ask us to come back, so, after much deliberation, we said 'Why not?' Writer John Sullivan was for it and he's the main man, so we said, 'great'. We're delighted to be able to give people a laugh.

"It's five years later, one or two of us have got a little ... slower, perhaps Not including me, of course. But apart from that, it's like we've never been away. We just went like that," he says, clicking his fingers, "straight away - thank goodness."

Possibly the greatest draw for Jason, however, was the chance to work with long-suffering screen sibling Nicholas Lyndhurst again.

"Nick and I get on so well, it's a joy to work with him. He's extremely talented and he makes it fun, so because of that we're still here. If we didn't get on, I wouldn't be doing this. I wouldn't be sitting here and I wouldn't have been sitting here for a long time. It's too precious a thing than to be about just earning money. It's more important than that."

For Jason, returning to the role is "like putting on an old pair of slippers" and he puts his character's enduring appeal down to John Sullivan's scripts.

"I watch old episodes if they're on, for nostalgic reasons. Some of them are just timeless, they hold up so well. It's amazing. And that's mainly due to the writing. It is extremely clever.

"And Del and Rodney don't mean any harm to anybody, do they? The thing about them is, and it's what they used to say about Laurel and Hardy, that one is a knowing fool and the other is an unknowing fool.

"Everybody can watch the two characters - well, not just the two characters but the whole show - and know that everybody's a ruddy fool! We're just there to entertain people and it works. It's great - and we need a bit more of that in this day and age, don't we?"

Jason's pleasure at being back reunited with the cast with whom he has worked for 20 years is tinged with sadness.

Buster Merryfield, who played Uncle Albert, died in 1999, and Kenneth MacDonald, best known as Nag's Head landlord Mike, suffered a fatal heart attack in August.

"It changes the balance in the show - they're missed," Jason says. "Certainly Ken MacDonald was a tremendous funster. He never stopped laughing and playing practical jokes. He was just wonderful."

Filming the new episodes has also been difficult for a very different reason, the 61-year-old actor reveals. His partner, Gill Hinchcliffe, 41, gave birth to his first child, Sophie Mae, in February this year.

"So I'm getting fed up of living away from home so much. They look after you very well but it doesn't matter how well you're looked after, how nice the hotel is, if you're away from home constantly, the bloody dog savages you, thinks you're a stranger, the kid cries and the wife's stuck to your face!"

Only Fools And Horses will be shown on BBC1 at 9.05pm on Christmas Day. The remaining two special episodes will be screened in the new year. This interview was syndicated by the BBC to promote the show.

First published: December 10, 2001

Published: 22 Mar 2009

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