He trained as an electrician after leaving school while negotiating his way into reperatory theatre.
He started his career at the same time as Michael Palin in At Last the 1948 Show and appeared in variety shows in support of stars such as Dick Emery. He appeared, most notably, as a spoof super-hero Captain Fantastic, in Do Not Adjust Your Set, and co-starred with Denise Coffey in End of Part One. He was somewhat ahead of the Austin Powers and Johnny English film genre in an inventive TV series about an inept spy called The Secret Life of Edgar Briggs. Humphrey Barclay, who recruited David to Do Not Adjust Your Set partly to offset the rather intellectual style of Idle, Jones and Palin, admired David's masterful sense of timing. This was of course in an era when British performers such as Peter Cook, Marty Feldman, Tony Hancock, Benny Hill and Kenneth Horne were all regularly demonstrating superb timing skills to humorous effect. His eye-catching performances would also attract the attention of Ronnie Barker, who would become a mentor to Jason in the next era of his career.
Jason was recruited to play Dithers, the hundred-year old gardener to Barker and co-worker of a maid played by Josephene Tewson, in Hark At Barker, then Blanco in Porridge, a prison-based comedy also starring Barker, then junior employee Granville in Open All Hours, starring Barker as the miserly proprietor of a general store. He also took the lead role in ITV sitcom A Sharp Intake Of Breath.
This was followed by his most enduring and popular role, that of Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses, a wide-boy who makes a dubious living in Peckham, south London, trading in stolen goods with the assistance of his brother Rodney (played by Nicholas Lyndhurst) and Grandad (played by Lennard Pearce) or, latterly, Uncle Albert, played by Buster Merryfield. In this role David popularised some slang words; examples being the mild insults dipstick and plonker and the celebratory lovely jubbly.
He soon earned acclaim for a string of serious roles, for example as Detective Jack Frost in the TV series A Touch Of Frost and acted with Catherine Zeta-Jones in the rural Kentish tale The Darling Buds of May (based on the H. E. Bates novel).
He has also worked as a voice artist for Cosgrove Hall on a number of children's television productions, providing voices for Dangermouse, Count Duckula and Toad from The Wind in the Willows, as well as several other cartoon voice-overs and advertising work.
Jason has never married. He nursed long-time partner Myfanwy prior to her death in 1995 after a long battle with cancer and then found happiness again with current partner Gill, with whom he has a daughter who was born in 2001.
David Jason Facts
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