Only Fools and Horses

The Harry Potter actor who was the ‘first choice’ to play Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses but turned it down

The actor ended up joining the show later in an entirely different role

To die-hard fans of Only Fools and Horses, it might be easy to believe there was never any dispute over who would play Del Boy. David Jason played the iconic lead character in the 80s sitcom for so long that his face has practically become synonymous with that of the wannabe-millionaire Derek Edward “Del Boy” Trotter.

So it’s pretty shocking to think that David Jason was actually not first in line to play the part. In fact, he wasn’t even second, third, or fourth, but actually the fifth favourite for the role of wheeler-dealer Del Boy. According to IMDb, the top choice for the gig was actually Jim Broadbent.

Harry Potter fans will know the 72-year-old actor best for his role as the hilarious Professor Slughorn in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – but his extensive acting portfolio also includes roles in Bridget Jones’ Diary (as Bridget’s Dad), Vanity Fair, The Iron Lady, Paddington and The Duke, to name just a few.

In a previous interview with the Sunday Post, Jim admitted he had in fact been offered the role, saying: “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.”

David Jason as Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses (Image: Don Smith/Radio Times/Getty Images)

Long-term fans will know that Jim did eventually join the OFAH cast, as recurring character Roy Slater, who first appeared in 1983. 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.”

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