Only Fools and Horses

Only Fools and Horses: The four actors who nearly played Del Boy over David Jason

A number of other actors were originally considered for the iconic role

David Jason is well-known and much-loved as the iconic character Del Boy in the series Only Fools and Horses, but some fans might be shocked to know that he was originally not the first choice to play the role.

According to the actor’s memoir Open All Hours , he was actually the fifth choice to play Del Boy after a number of other actors were considered. It is hard now to picture anyone else as the brash and loud South London market trader and petty con man, who is one of British TVs most loved and iconic characters.

After considering a number of other actors the role eventually went to Jason, who was 40 years old at the time. The actor has previously spoken about how when he first auditioned they thought he was there to read for the role of Grandad.

David Jason played the iconic role of Del Boy (Image: BBC)

Speaking on BBC Breakfast he said: “When I went into the interview with the director and (writer) John Sullivan, because I’d played so many silly old fart parts, like Blanco in Porridge and the 100 year old gardener in Hark at Barker, they thought I’d come up for the Grandad part.

“When I said no, I wanted to read Del Boy, that’s the part, that is the part that I want, and so they said, well go on see if you can read that, and the rest I suppose is history.”

Take a look at the four other actors who were originally considered for the role of Del Boy.

Enn Reitel

The Scottish actor who was first choice to play Del Boy

Scottish actor Enn Reitel, who specialises in voice work, was reportedly the first choice to play the iconic character but he was unable to commit due to scheduling conflicts.

David Jason spoke of the actor when he wrote for MailOnline and said: “I wasn’t the original choice for the part: Enn Reitel, a great comic actor and voice specialist, was apparently the first port of call.”

He added: “He was busy on something else.”

Jim Broadbent

Jim Broadbent was originally offered the role of Del Boy (Image: Samir Hussein/Getty Images)

Academy-award winning actor Jim Broadbent was the second choice to play everyone’s favourite wheeler-dealer. The actor was unable to take on the role due to previous commitments and scheduling conflicts so had to turn it down.

He discussed how he was offered the leading role in an interview with The Sunday Post, and said: “Yes, it’s true. I didn’t feel that it was quite right for me. I was probably too tall for a start and the Jack the Lad character was not quite my style. As it turned out David Jason was perfect and he played Del Boy far better than I could have done.”

As many fans will know Jim Broadbent did feature in the show eventually, although he instead took on the role of copper Roy Slater, who was first seen 1983 but returned multiple times over the years.

Jim said: “I was happy as Roy Slater. I didn’t really expect to appear more than once, so I was delighted to get the chance to be the villainous copper a number of times.

“Only Fools And Horses was a great series and I was thrilled to be a part of it. Nobody expected that it would take off in the way that it did and in the very early days it did not look as if it would last very long. Once the viewers got interested though, it just went from strength to strength.

“For me it was an honour to have been part of one of the most successful comedy shows in television history and it was a sheer delight to work alongside David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst, a fantastic experience and a lot of fun.”

Billy Murray was considered for the role (Image: Getty Images)

Robin Nedwell and Billy Murray are also thought to have been considered for the role, but for reasons unknown they did not eventually get the part

David said to MailOnline: “I’m told that Robin Nedwell, of the Doctor In The House comedy series, and Billy Murray, who was later on The Bill and EastEnders, may also have been considered.

“There could well have been others. Why, perhaps you, dear reader, were offered the role, too, and turned it down. It would hardly come as a shock to me.

“By the most conservative estimate, I was merely the fifth option on the list headed: ‘People the BBC would be interested in talking to about playing Derek Trotter.'”

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